As a diminutive midfield maestro, Andres Iniesta has had to deal with bigger and tougher tackling opponents. The former Barcelona and Spain legend spoke to FourFourTwo about his tricks of the trade to deal with them.
Drawing a foul
“Make the opponent think that you are going one way, then go the other. Confuse him. And when your opponent has the ball, close him down quickly. Put him under pressure before he’s even had time to think about an attack. Another thing: if the attack has gone, don’t waste energy playing catch-up. You can be as much use to the team as a defender if the ball comes back. Or you can move up more slowly and still be in a position to shoot if the ball comes back to you.”
Dealing with a giant
“If I play against a big player, I play the ball quickly on the ground. Playing a quick one-two is also very effective as bigger players are slower to react and turn. I also keep a distance from them so that I can turn quickly and we don’t find ourselves going for the same ball. I only weigh 63 kilos so I don’t have weight to throw around. If you can get the ball past them a few times using a one-two they will be more reluctant to rush in and tackle, so you have more space to play.”
Shooting from distance
“I’m not a natural scorer, but if I see an opening, I’ll shoot. I shoot if I think I can score and I’ll aim for the part of the goal that’s most difficult for the goalkeeper. That’s what I did in the World Cup final – the corner near the post. And against Chelsea too [Champions League semi-final in 2009], because I saw a space through a crowd of players. Opposition players in front make it more complicated – for me but also for the goalkeeper – because they can’t see properly. And if there’s someone in a better position, I’ll pass. So you need to know who is around you all the time and where they are.”