One of the most arguable and heavy metals clashing debates among this generation of fans is, IS ANDRES INIESTA THE GREATEST OF HIS GENERATION ? Though it depends on every individuals’ point of view and understanding of the sport, most of the fans, not just the Barcelona fans, also other club’s fans agree on Iniesta’s class and legacy. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever midfielders football has ever seen but is he the greatest of his generation? There are some points to be discussed, let’s see them now.
PS: Before you continue further, please have this in mind that I have the utmost respect for Iniesta and did not mean to defame the player. The Sport Football is very fortunate to have this magician.
IS ANDRES INIESTA THE GREATEST OF HIS GENERATION ?
The El Anti-Galactico, the El Cerebro (The Brain), the El Ilusionista (The Illusionist), El Caballero Pálido (The Pale Knight) and recently nicknames as THE DON ANDRES is just unbelievable when he has the ball in his feet. He just mesmerises people, even his opponents with his sheer brilliance. When the fans of Santiago Bernabeu gives a standing ovation to a Barcelona player, you should understand how great the player was. Iniesta is only the second player to receive a standing ovation from the Bernabeu crowd and is the one and only La Masia player to receive such applause from his fierce rivals Real Madrid.
Not just for his club, Iniesta is carrying his national team on his shoulders for quite some time now. After the retirement of World Cup heroes Xavi and David Villa, Spain National Team suffered big. If not for Andres Iniesta, the Spain national team may not have got their form back. He is the outstanding player for Spain in the ongoing Euro Championship 2016.
Andres Iniesta’s silverware collection for both and club outbids the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldinho, Paul Scholes, and so many other greats midfielders of the game. “He will retire me, he will retire us all,” Pep Guardiola said these words to Xavi when the former Barcelona manager met Iniesta for the first time on the pitch, at that time, Pep Guardiola was playing for Barcelona as a central midfielder. Just as he said, Iniesta replaced Guardiola and then formed an unimaginable partnership with Xavi to win silverwares after silverwares to Barcelona and Spain. “Sometimes without looking, I know where he is,” said Iniesta about his partnership with Xavi and they were just unimaginable. Those type of plays were not seen before their time and will not be seen in the future.
Iniesta was something very special but can he be called the greatest of his generation just like that? Can he be rated higher than the likes of, let’s say, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard? The English midfielders too had a great career with their respective clubs and have won quite a good collection of silverwares. Though Gerrard was unfortunate not to win an English Premier League title as a player, he is widely considered as the best of his generation of English midfielders along with Frank Lampard.
If a comparison is made among these three great midfielders of this generation, who will win the battle? Most probably the answer will be ANDRES INIESTA but I beg to differ. Here are my reasons:
The one best thing about the English duo is their ability to crack goals from long ranges. They both have scored amazing long rangers for their respective clubs and have won many games with the help of their powerful yet accurate feet. Frank Lampard is the best scoring English Premier League midfielder of all time. Lampard has mastered the dead balls who also is a specialist in taking Penalties. Throughout his career, Lampard has played different roles under different managers. Lampard can play various roles according to the requirements of the team and has excelled in all the three central midfield roles. He has played as a No.10 for most of his career but is also equally good when played as a No.8 or as a No.6.
Lampard has spent the majority of his career with Chelsea, making more than 500 appearances for the Londoners scoring a record 211 goals in all competitions which is way ahead of what Andreas Iniesta has managed at Barcelona. Iniesta is known for his brilliance with the ball, his control, his vision, his awareness of the game whereas Lampard is a box-to-box midfielder with amazing stamina along with the prementioned skills. Maybe not as good as Iniesta with the ball, but Lampard’s awareness for goals and his ability to score from free kicks is something Iniesta has not done in his glorious career.
Just like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard is also very good with long range shots and is arguably a better free kick taker than Lampard. Though he has not scored as many goals as Lampard, Gerrard’s sheer power and technique to get goals from set pieces have served Liverpool very well. 190 goals in total for Liverpool, a handsome tally for a midfielder. And Gerrard’s contribution to Liverpool can not be simply expressed by words, he had good chances to leave Liverpool and join one of the giants of Europe and win lots of silverwares, just like Luis Suarez who recently left Liverpool for Barcelona and has won a treble with Barcelona in his very first season. But Steven Gerrard stayed put, though he has not won many titles, he has won more hearts and is Mr.Liverpool for the very same reason.
Gerrard’s ability to control the game, deliver crucial passes from the center, his physical presence on the pitch, the way of moving the ball around the pitch, his awareness, his instincts are nothing less to Iniesta’s or Lampard’s and he is a way better LEADER on the pitch than the other two. Gerrard can make any player give his best for the club on the pitch, just his presence alone can inspire a player to give his 100%, his mental strength is something can not be beaten. Add to that, Gerrard is a Member of the Order of British Empire, not at all an easy step for a footballer.
In the case of passing, vision, technique, skills, versatility, the variety of passes, game awareness, and working ethic, the three players were almost equal. Though Iniesta has a very big leap in his dribbling abilities, short passes, link-up play with his teammates, bringing the players’ together to create a goal scoring opportunity, Gerrard and Lampard can do that with their sheer physical presence. Both Gerrard and Lampard are box-to-box midfielders with a dominating stamina and can score from any range in which they just overshadow the Spaniard.
In the case of titles won, Iniesta can never be matched by the English duo who have not won any major title for England. Iniesta’s influence with his national team is phenomenal, Spain will go clueless against solid defensive teams if not for the magician in Andres Iniesta. Lampard and Gerrard both played together for England along with the likes of Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney who all have their own legacy to write about, but yet they did not achieve anything big, this is where Iniesta can never be matched.
Except the international success, Iniesta has very less to be ranked above the other two, Both Lampard and Gerrard can match Iniesta’s brilliance but the fact is they were not as successful as Iniesta in both and country level. If not for the TITLES WON, Iniesta can not be ranked as the GREATEST of his generation, along with Gerrard and Lampard there are some other players like, Andrea Pirlo, Ricardo Kaka, Paul Scholes who can also be compared to the price we are discussing.
Without an inch of doubt, Iniesta is one of the greatest ever midfielders to ever grace the beautiful game, but he can not be called as the best midfielder of his generation. He has equally good players who can also be ranked alongside him. Iniesta is one of the best midfielders of his generation and of all-time but is never the greatest of his generation.