Barcelona vs Sevilla: Copa del Rey final all about Andres Iniesta
The Barcelona legend looks set to depart for China. He’s got one final left.
It has been widely reported in the Spanish media that Barcelona’s current longest-serving player and club captain Andres Iniesta is due to depart for an unnamed Chinese club at the end of the season.
Speculation has been rife about the veteran Spanish midfielder for weeks, but it appears that he has already decided to leave, as per AS.
Looking on from the bench with a forlorn expression as Kostas Manolas headed in the goal that eliminated Barcelona from the Champions League, he won’t be getting a dream departure.
But he’s already won four Champions League titles, and with the league title all but wrapped up, can end his Barcelona career with a domestic double by defeating Sevilla in Saturday’s Copa del Rey final.
Always the player for the big occasion, Iniesta has one final left.
Sevilla wary of another Iniesta masterclass
The final is a repeat of the final from two years ago. Unai Emery’s Sevilla, cup experts who were about to secure a third straight Europa League, took on Luis Enrique’s Barcelona, back-to-back league Champions and the holders of the Copa del Rey.
Sevilla were granted a golden opportunity when Javier Mascherano was sent off for denying a goal-scoring opportunity in the first half.
Iniesta was vital in wrestling control in the middle of the pitch for ten-man Barcelona, who overcame the deficit in personnel by putting in one of their finest performances of recent times.
After 0-0 over 90 minutes, Barcelona eventually found the breakthrough in extra time through Jordi Alba. There was no conservatism or caution from a team who only knew one way to play. Iniesta’s runs from midfield were key in Barcelona taking the game to their opponents.
This was a Man of the Match display from a player who some were whispering was past it.
That’s a familiar story this season. He‘s been unable to play his best football with regularity, but from time to time he rolls back the years with performances of supreme personality. On his day, he’s still a Rolls Royce of a footballer, as he demonstrated last weekend against Valencia in a 2-1 win.
Stephen N’Zonzi and Ever Banega could barely lay a glove on Barcelona’s midfield that day. They’ll be hoping for something different this time around.
The man for the big occasion.
Such a performance was nothing surprising for Iniesta – who has earned man of the match awards in Euros, Champions League and World Cup finals. Time and again, he has turned up when needed for Barcelona and Spain.
Henrik Larsson and Juliano Belletti are often credited with turning the game against Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League final. But it was another substitute, Andres Iniesta – having turned just 22 earlier that week – that set the template for the second half as Barcelona lay siege to Arsenal’s stubborn defence and eventually found the breakthrough.
That was Iniesta’s first final win as a senior player. Three more Champions Leagues for Barcelona, as well as two Euros and a World Cup for Spain would follow. He was indispensable as his club and country enjoyed their greatest eras of their histories.
For a player without a prolific goal-scoring or assists record, he has a stunning highlights reel on the biggest stage. An extra-time winner for his country’s first and only World Cup. The last-minute winner against Chelsea in 2009, the defining image of that treble-winning campaign.
The through-ball that forced the equaliser against Arsenal in 2006 and assisting Ivan Rakitic as Barcelona opened the scoring against Juventus in 2015 to secure their second treble.
History’s in the making – so savour it.
No player has been as much of a constant in Barcelona’s domination of the sport as Andres Iniesta.
He’s tied with Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez on four Champions Leagues but he’s the only player to feature in all four finals, as well as prominently throughout each campaign. Soon to win a ninth league title, and possibly a sixth Copa del Rey, he’s had an unparalleled career.
There are so few games left and no others with this importance. This is a player who undoubtedly will be remembered as a legend, so sit back and appreciate him while you still can. There’s not long left.
Will Andres Iniesta make the difference in the Copa del Rey final? Let us know by commenting below.