Football is a game of opinions. If Garth Crooks wants to set his Team of the Week up in a 3-1-3-2-1 formation then he’s got every right to.
But sometimes those opinions are just plain wrong. Sometimes you need to stop those opinions from seeing the light of day.
Take Sam Allardyce’s claim that Sergio Busquets is ‘no better or worse than Eric Dier’.
The issue with that type of opinion is that people begin to justify it. Madlads on Twitter start to spout nonsense about Busquets being ‘overrated’ or ‘average’ because he’s never done it against ‘proper’ midfielders like Mark Noble.
So let’s try and combat these nonsensical arguments using simple logic. Let’s try and turn these non-believers into fully paid up members of the Church of Busquets.
All bow down to the altar of Sergio.
‘Sergio Busquets is only good because he played next to Xavi and Andres Iniesta!!!!!! *BANGS FOREHEAD AGAINST COMPUTER SCREEN REPEATEDLY*’.
To have the football brain required to play with Iniesta and Xavi in their prime is something us mere mortals, and 99.99% of professional footballers, can’t even comprehend.
In his first season, when Barcelona won the treble, Busquets was the sole midfielder responsible for breaking up play when Xavi, Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o streamed forward. Oh, and Dani Alves.
He was the foundation upon which Iniesta and Xavi could build relentless waves of Barcelona attacks, safe in the knowledge that if anything broke down, Busquets would be there to save the day.
Xavi chose to write a guest column in MARCA dedicated to Busquets, in which he enthused: “The first time Pep Guardiola brought Sergio Busquets to train with us, I realized we were facing a special player.
“When the coach announced the team before a match, the first thing I always did was look for Busi, even if I wasn’t starting. If he was there I was calm, because I knew he guaranteed tactical intelligence.
“Busquets sees things in his head before they happen on the pitch, he intercepts an enormous amount of passes, he can allow his team to play without fear and he is agile on his feet.”
Feel free to argue with Xavi, if you feel that way inclined, but we’re happy to take his word as gospel.
Of course, you could argue that Xavi is a bit biased in his views, having shared a dressing room with Busquets for seven years.
So allow two of the finest modern midfielders England have produced to wax lyrical about Busquets’ ability.
Frank Lampard said: “He plays in second gear and I mean that in a really positive way because everything is so easy for him. Perfect positioning defensively.”
Steven Gerrard added: “It’s his calmness. I’ve played against him and in the end you stop pressing him because it’s so frustrating. You can’t get near him.
“You can’t get the ball off him. You can’t get close, because if you come out of your position to press him he pops it around you. He’s an absolute nightmare to play against.”
‘All Sergio Busquets does is pass sideways!!!! *BANGS FOREHEAD AGAINST COMPUTER SCREEN REPEATEDLY*’
Granted, a lot of the time Busquets keeps it simple. But don’t be fooled. The great Johan Cruyff once said: “Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.”
Often these simple passes are played with the type of detail with which you could start a Silicon Valley enterprise.
Upon training with Busquets for Spain, Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez told the press: “The precision of Busquets’ passes are clever and give you information.
“If he passes it behind you, it’s for you to return the ball to him because you’re being pressed. If he plays it in front of you, it’s because you’re free to turn.”
For the icing on the cake, let’s take a quick look at Busquets’ trophy cabinet.
The 30-year-old has won La Liga seven times, the Copa del Rey six times, six Spanish Super Cups, three Champions Leagues, three UEFA Super Cups and three FIFA Club World Cups.
He’s lifted both the World Cup and European Championships with Spain, for whom he’s won 110 caps and counting.
But hey, he’s scored fewer than 20 goals in 12 seasons of professional football. Maybe he is a boring passing merchant after all.
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