opinions | 2016-10-27
What are Barça's alternatives on the midfield while Iniesta recovers?
Barça lost one of its most important players until 2017, discussing the alternatives Luis Enrique has
Our captain Andrés Iniesta got injured on last match against Valencia at Mestalla, thanks to a disloyal challenge by Enzo Pérez. He will be out between 6 and 8 weeks. Less that we initially thought, but we will miss him. Messi knows it: "It was the worst thing about the match, Iniesta's injury. It left us with bad vibrations".
When we couldn’t count with Messi, many culés thought that without him on pitch, we'd need Iniesta for creative reasons. Now, who is the best option to replace him? Before talk about our different options for left midfielder, we have to understand what Iniesta means for our midfield.
He is not only our captain, he is also one of our best and important players. Throughout each season Iniesta grew and adapted his skills. Maybe he doesn’t control the game as Xavi or score goals as Fábregas, but none can change the outcome of a match as quickly as the Manchego.
In the last few seasons, Iniesta has reinvented himself to recreate his role in our team. He provides solutions in each match, breaks lines and why not, assist or score an amazing goal now and then. Andrés now gets the ball on our own half, and stays limited to a short stretch of pitch, rarely approaching the box. So, maybe he can’t produce the same amount of chances, through passes, and shots he used to, but continues to be crucial for Barça.
Last week, I read a curious tweet: “When I see Messi was defending, I finally understood the saying the Lord is everywhere”. In this case, I’d like to say the same about Andrés. He knows we need the entire team defending; he is our example, our leader. Amidst tackles, fouls, cards, provocations, taunting, and fighting, Iniesta is always above it all. Setting an example for the rest to follow and that is easily overlooked.
A key player like him is not easy to replace, but Luis Enrique will manage. What are our options? I’m going to consider some things first. Right now, we count with André Gomes and Denis Suárez, while Arda Turán and Rafinha are injured, but will return soon.
Rafinha is a special player, especially for Luis Enrique. He has earned a chance to a one of the replacements in the right side of the starting line-up. He contributes in defense and attack, quickly connecting both attack and defense. Not our best passer, but he can become important for the team. Still, I prefer Rafinha as a winger. We need someone who can control the game, pause it and breaks lines at the same time. I do not think Rafinha is the best option for it.
Arda Turan has improved this season. He replaced Neymar perfectly in August. Barcelona signed him for this particular situation, to be a backup whenever needed. Arda is a good offensive player, but he doesn’t work very well when Barcelona loses possession. Like Rafinha, I prefer the Turk as a winger, as he's lost on pitch when he has to defend or fill spaces.
Maybe André Gomes is the Luis Enrique’s favorite option. He is a physically strong player who helps a lot in defensive and offensive work. He accomplishes to pause the game occasionally and manages to runs across all whole pitch covering spaces. Very intelligent in his passes. Not offensive like Rafinha or Arda, but provides more defensively. Who can take advantage of it? Iván Rakitic. My problem with André is that we need a good connection between Digne and Neymar. A more creative player.
I’d like to watch Denis Suárez in our line-up. I really like what I watched on preseason and first official games and he ticks all boxes defensive and offensive wise. I do not why Luis Enrique looked away him in these last matches. Perhaps he doesn’t help much in defense as Lucho wants, but Denis can do associate with his teammates and quickly built a solid connection with Messi, and we can hope for the same to happen with Neymar. Also, Denis could play perfectly on the right side of the pitch; so he, with a little liberty, can destroy an opponent's' defense, like his assist to Piqué against Celta.
We have a lot of options to replace the Andrés Iniesta’s absence, although we never can replace him totally. All our players are excellent and I am confidence about Luis Enrique’s decision. For any doubt, we have Messi in our side.
Anything wrong? Send your correction.
WRITTEN BY: María Viloria
María's a law student and a die-hard Barça fan since the Ronaldinho days. She is football fanatic who especially loves La Liga.