The final analysis, part five: Iniesta takes up increasingly advanced positions before pouncing

July 18, 2010

The first sign that Andres Iniesta was the danger man came midway through the second half of normal time, when he found himself through on goal (pink), but took too long to get a shot away.

Vicente del Bosque seemed to give him license to play further up the pitch. Here (pink) he is almost level with David Villa, far more advanced than Xavi and Jesus Navas, the two players on his normal ‘line’ in the 4-2-3-1.

The same applied when the ball was deep in Spain’s half – Iniesta (pink) didn’t have much responsibility to track back, and instead stayed high up the pitch.

Spain really started to threaten after the introduction of Cesc Fabregas, as this provided two central attacking threats for Spain behind David Villa. Fabregas (blue) made a terrific run to meet an Iniesta through-ball (pink) and he should have opened the scoring. The situation below shows how those three Spanish players were effectively playing around the two Dutch centre-backs.

Eventually, Holland started paying more attention to Iniesta. Just before he went off, it seemed that Nigel de Jong (yellow) was given the job of tracking him (pink).

Bert van Marwijk decided to withdraw de Jong, however, and brought on Rafael van der Vaart. This left Holland exposed in front of their back four, and was a particularly bad move in hindsight, as John Heitinga’s red card meant the Dutch central midfielders had more defensive duties. It was van der Vaart, a playmaker, who ended up with the job of trying to tackle Iniesta for the winning goal.

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