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Iniesta, Spain's orchestra leader par excellence
Published : 18 Jun 2012 00:47:28Rss feed
Not sated by having helped Spain conquer the world in 2010 with his goal in the final, Andres Iniesta is once again proving his weight in gold for titleholders Spain at Euro 2012.
But the Barcelona dynamo is typically the lightning rod for danger when the Spanish are in full flow 'the orchestra leader' if you will as Ireland's veteran Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni designated him.
After two full rounds of group games at the championship one would have to put Iniesta right up alongside the likes of German pair Mario Gomez and Mesut Ozil as a candidate for player of the tournament even at this comparatively early stage.
Although Spain were not at their best against the Italians in their opening draw it was Iniesta, along with partner in tiki-taka rhyme Xavi Hernandez, who put the Spanish back on track in the second half after a staid opening.
Then in the 4-0 drubbing of Ireland it saw him lead not least Glenn Whelan a merry dance with his tight dribbling and repertoire of tricks.
His boundless energy means the 28-year-old appears in no way blunted by a long and in many ways disappointing season at Barcelona, who ended up with only the consolation prize of the Spanish Cup for their pains.
Though he does not say so in so many words, Iniesta gives the impression of wanting to use Barca's failure to best Real Madrid at home and Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final to spur him on, using those frustrations as an extra reason for wanting success here.
"I feel I am enjoying an ideal patch of form right now," he insisted going into the tournament.
Iniesta is at pains not to portray himself as a leader as such - merely a cog in an effectively turning machine.
"I have always tried to play my role in this team - but I do not feel myself a leader - I simply feel comfortable in my position," he says modestly.
Against Croatia on Monday, the little Catalan, Xavi and Silva will once again combine as Spain look for the win which will confirm top spot in Group C.
That would mean a potential quarter-final with England - or perhaps France.
A draw would take the Spanish into the last eight in any case - but their winning mentality means they have ruled out a stalemate of convenience - not least knowing that Italy would cry foul as any arrangement, real or imagined, would put the latter out.
With Iniesta and company in this form a draw will be asking a lot of the Croatians.