Xavi and Iniesta can prove there’s life after Ronaldinho

July 22, 2008

Brothers in arms: Xavi and IniestaAs we all saw during Euro 2008, Xavi and Iniesta are two of the best ball-playing midfielders in Europe. Now it’s time they showed it for Barcelona.

Don’t get me wrong — the two little midfielders have been good enough for the Catalans over the past few seasons. But now that Ronaldinho has gone, along with Deco and possibly to be followed by Eto’o, this is the moment for the two gifted midfielders to show they can really carry the team.

They certainly have the skill but do they have the charisma?

Will we see them urging on their team mates, demanding the ball and getting forward into goalscoring positions? Will they take on more responsibility under new coach Pep Guardiola, who certainly led by example as a player.

I’m in Spain at the moment, taking a break between Euro 2008 and Beijing, and expectation is obviously growing about how Guardiola’s new-look Barcelona are going to cope without Ronaldinho and co.

The coach apparently still wants a new centre-forward — Adebayor, Drogba or Berbatov, by all accounts — but I wonder if the inspiration couldn’t come instead from those newly crowned champions of Europe in the midfield.

After all, they already have Henry, Messi, Bojan and conceivably Eto’o to play up front.

Kevin Fylan, taking advantage of the wifi at Bar Alcala, Cullera

PHOTO: Xavi and Iniesta celebrate a Barcelona goal against Levante during at Camp Nou, Feb 24, 2008. REUTERS/Albert Gea

14 comments

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Barcelona are going to find it tough unless they find a player like ronaldinho (or the ronaldinho of his prime a couple of years ago). They need to sign kaka or cristiano ronaldo or someone like that.

Posted by Rafael | Report as abusive

Rafael, um, have you ever heard of a player by the name of LIONEL MESSI??? have yu even watched barcelona over the last few years, messi does all that ronaldinho did, and last season he did more, he virtually carried the barca attack himself. why buy kaka or ronaldo when youve got messi? younger, more potential etc. if you doubt him, look at bojan. barca dont need to sign a flair player, they need some leaders as kevin fylan has so rightly pointed out. i hope someone stands up, cos otherwise it would be a shame to see so much talent wasted…

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive

Hi Daniel. That’s true about Messi. Without Ronaldinho and co he should have a bit more room to impress. And if Bojan continues his improvement it could be a very interesting year. I’ll also be interested to see how Giovani gets on in England. I hope they’re patient with him.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

I believe Messi will prove that he is better than Ronaldinho.Barcelona will come back next season with the help of Xavi and Iniesta.

Posted by rg11mfl | Report as abusive

It’s time for them to play as a team and not as a team and one susperstar. with or without messi, messi should not be the focal point but part of the strategy and I hope Pep can do it just like Cruyff was able to do with Hritso, laudrup, Koeman, Goiko, Salinas, Amor and bakero. All great players and if one had a game, they still won.

That’s what this team should be again.

Posted by IBES | Report as abusive

Personally, I think it’ll take Messi at least another year before he can really become the focal point of Barca. He’s an exceptional player, but what he lacks is the playmaking ability of a true central player. I mean, he can’t really create opportunities for other players like Ronnie and Deco could. He also has problems with injuries and inconsitencies; there are many games in which he becomes a non-factor. He should become better at those things as he matures and gains more experience, but until then, I expect Xavi and Iniesta to be the central players.

Posted by KHO | Report as abusive

There is no doubt at all that Barcelona have enough talented players to win everything there is to win. For the most two seasons, maybe the problem was that too many of those playres thought they’d already proved themselves. What’s interesting this time is that there are plenty of players who have much still to prove. As KHO says, messi still has more to offer. Then there’s a rising star like Bojan and Henry, who by all accounts has come back to training with a new attitude. Should be an interesting season, anyway. I just hope they’re patient with Pep.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

We should know that there is no substitute for anybody,
even on the -ve part of it.For this reason,that is why
you are trying(you know it is impossible) to compare two
different people.Ronaldinho is and will continue to be
of his kind for this decade,do not cheat yourself.

Posted by mahunda | Report as abusive

They play the game the way it should be played. I think they will do very well without ronnie. check out totalfootballnews.com.

Posted by nesta32 | Report as abusive

I haven’t been on for a while. But once again the rounds of rich kids swapping clubs for the most cash is upon us again. How sad is it that footballers these days are only interested in putting in a good performance so as to add to their commercial value and not because they have a passion for the club paying their wages,
On another note the comment by Red nose that Chelsea are too old, at 67/68 he would have been pensioned off years ago in any other job.

Posted by aidy p | Report as abusive

Xavi & Iniesta have learnt quite alot from Deco & Ronaldinho, and after wining the Euro they shoul now establish themselves fully. Where i perceive there might be a problem is loosing Eto. The partnership Eto & ronaldinho had is what made Barca the exciting & domineering team they were. This was evident last season where the 2 players had injuries and barca failed to shine. Messi was left alone to bring the sparkle we knew barca had.

Posted by Obidike | Report as abusive

I think Messi does have more to offer, but not as a central player or playmaker. It seems like everyone expects great midfielders to be playmakers. While playmakers are essential or any team, they do rely on other players to be part of the move. What I’m saying is theres no point playing the perfect ball if theres no winger/striker to run onto it. I think Messi’s a player who isn’t necessarily a playmaker, don’t get me wrong he could be, but for me you get the most out of him and utilize his talent best when hes used as a winger. I mean we know him best for his scintillating runs down the wing and his trademark pause before skinning a defender to cut in and shoot or crossing. So for me hes a winger, not a playmaker but this is taking nothing away from him in terms of quality.

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive

Interesting game last night, by the way. You can’t read much into a 6-0 win over Hibs in pre-season but I enjoyed watching them pass the ball around (without Xavi and Iniesta, incidentally) and Messi looked pretty good. The other player who looked very, very comfortable was Pique. Maybe an astute piece of business bring him back…

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Well, Barcelona certainly has always had a pretty strong midfield. What I am concerned is not the lack of Ronaldinho, though an incredible player indeed, one of the players who truly held that midfield together was Deco. He not only was a great playmaker but also a pressure on the opponent’s midfield and opposition. Messi can surely fill in Ronaldinho’s shoe if given enough time, but neither xavi or iniesta seem to be able to play like Deco. Then again, they proved to be essential players in Spain’s campaign, so I guess we’ll see.

Posted by Elijah | Report as abusive