Andres Iniesta isn’t retiring, but the end to the Barcelona chapter of his career is a perfect opportunity to look back at the two defining moments of his career – his 2009 Champions League goal against Chelsea, and his 2010 World-Cup winning goal for Spain against the Netherlands.
May 6, 2009, at Stamford Bridge. The night that without it, the Guardiola era of Barcelona doesn’t get the validation beyond its aesthetic, but the practical one too. After a 0-0 draw in the first leg, Chelsea took an early lead through Michael Essien. Iniesta scored in the 93rd minute to send Barcelona to the final. That match also helped cement the ‘Uefalona’ tagline, thanks to the officiating of Tom Henning Øvrebø of Norway. Barcelona beat Manchester United 2-0 in the final, and the Guardiola experiment kicked off perfectly, winning every trophy in its first season.
July 11, 2010, Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa. The final of the World Cup. Spain, two years after winning the Euro, were favorites to win this trophy too. Despite an opening loss to Switzerland, things went on as progressed. Not as exciting as two years ago, but three 1-0 wins over Portugal, Paraguay and Germany placed La Roja 90 minutes away from winning their first World Cup.
In the way? Netherlands under Bert van Marwijk. This led to one of the more violent finals in World Cup history, including 13 booked players on both sides, one send off (John Heitinga) and the famous Nigel de Jong karate kick to Xabi Alonso’s chest.
And there was Iniesta. Iker Casillas made a couple of saves that denied Arjen Robben eternal Dutch glory, but it was Iniesta, with his 116th minute goal, that turned him from a Barcelona & Catalonia hero into a Spanish legend.
His career saw quite a few highs with club and country, but those two goals, two moments, will always stand a bit higher than the rest. Not that 9 La Liga championships, 6 Copa Del Reys, 4 Champions League trophies, one World Cup and 2 European championships is a bad thing to have on your CV.