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Xavi’s understated brilliance deserves recognition
The shortlist for the Ballon d’Or got shorter this year, but there was still room for seven members of the Spain squad that restored a bit of faith in football at Euro 2008.
A lot of news reports focused on the big-named absentees, including Thierry Henry, Fabio Cannavaro and Ronaldinho, but I don’t suppose too many people would argue for their inclusion after disappointing seasons.
No, the real surprise, and shame, is the absence of Andres Iniesta, to my mind the most skilful of Spain’s little men in midfield. If he wasn’t quite at his best at Euro 2008 he was still better than most and he deserves a place in the top 30.
One thing to consider about the award is the weight given to performances over a season against form shown over a few weeks in the summer.
For many Premier League watchers, it will be hard to see past Cristiano Ronaldo but when Portugal needed him he was outshone by Bastian Schweinsteiger. Again. Where does that leave us?
Xavi won the player of the tournament award at Euro 2008 for pulling the strings in that beguiling Spanish midfield and despite the fact that Barcelona won nothing last season, he would be my choice. It would at least recognise that brilliance can be understated as well as flash.
PHOTO: Xavi joins his team mates to celebrate the matchwinning goal from Fernando Torres in the Euro 2008 final, June 29, 2008. REUTERS/Christian Charisius