Andres Iniesta Proudly Flying the Spanish Flag in Japan

Former Spain international and iconic FC Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta made his official J.League debut on July 22nd, although the media back home seemed more interested in his boots, rather than his performance on the pitch with his new club. Following the official announcement in May that Iniesta was calling time on an illustrious and trophy-laden career at Barcelona, spanning an impressive total of 22 years with the club, football fans in Japan had been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to see the iconic Spanish star in action with his new team, Vissel Kobe.

Inevitably, the capture of such a talented player as midfield maestro Iniesta, even in what is considered by most to be the twilight of his career, has piqued interest from those who focus on J-League betting at William Hill and amongst followers of Japanese football in general, all keen to see what impact the Spaniard will have at his new club.

Image Source: @vissel_kobe via Twitter

The first appearance for Iniesta came from the bench, replacing Kazuma Watanabe in the 59th minute. However, Vissel were already trailing 2-0 at home against Shonan Bellmare, and went on to lose the game 3-0 in the end. Many fans packed inside the stadium waved Spanish flags to welcome the 34-year-old, who showed some typical examples of his style and quality during the minutes he played.

Meanwhile, back in Spain, some media outlets chose to focus on the Spanish flag featured on the heel of Iniesta’s boots, rather than his touches of the ball for his team. The significance of this in their eyes? Simply that he never sported a Spanish flag on his boots during all the years he played for Barca, suggesting that he might not have been allowed to do so at the Catalan club.

“Even though I’m in Japan, they’re looking for unnecessary controversy,” posted Iniesta via his official Twitter account with ironic applause emojis, after after spotting the article published by Cuatro, a Spanish TV station, which hinted that the iconic player might have been inhibited from demonstrating pride for his country, whilst at Barca, due to their high-profile support for Catalan independence from Spain.

Whilst playing for FC Barcelona, Iniesta always made a point of distancing himself from any polemic political debates, preferring to focus entirely on his football activities and nothing more.

 

Image Source: @vissel_kobe via Twitter

However, it seems pretty clear from his tweet that Iniesta is tired of the Spanish media trying to create controversies, where in his opinion there are none. Indeed, as highlighted by Marca, these are the same boots Iniesta wore at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, whilst playing for Spain in his final international outings for La Roja.

Interestingly, despite the huge rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona, or the feelings of fans supporting other clubs towards the two giants of Spanish football, Iniesta was always applauded whenever he appeared in stadiums throughout the country, which demonstrated a level of respect rarely seen for any player, particularly after his winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when he instantly became a national hero


 

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J1 Standings

 

. Team Pts W D L GF GA G.Dif.
1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 56 17 5 5 42 21 +21
2 Kawasaki Frontale 52 16 4 6 42 20 +22
3 FC Tokyo 43 12 7 8 34 25 +9
4 Kashima Antlers 42 12 6 9 37 34 +3
5 Cerezo Osaka 41 10 11 6 34 30 +4
6 Vegalta Sendai 41 12 5 10 36 38 -2
7 Consadole Sapporo 41 11 8 7 35 38 -3
8 Urawa Reds 38 10 8 9 37 27 +10
9 Vissel Kobe 36 10 6 11 33 35 -2
10 Shimizu S-Pulse 34 10 4 13 38 40 -2
11 Jubilo Iwata 33 8 9 10 29 37 -8
12 Yokohama Marinos 32 9 5 13 45 46 -1
13 Nagoya Grampus 31 9 4 13 43 48 -5
14 Shonan Bellmare 31 8 7 11 31 36 -5
15 Sagan Tosu 30 7 9 11 22 28 -6
16 Kashiwa Reysol 30 9 3 15 33 42 -9
17 Gamba Osaka 30 8 6 13 29 39 -10
18 V.Varen Nagasaki 27 8 3 16 32 48 -16

J2 Standings

. Team Pts W D L GF GA G.Dif.
1 Yamaga 56 16 8 5 42 26 +16
2 Zelvia 53 15 8 5 48 34 +14
3 Trinita 51 15 6 8 50 35 +15
4 YokohamaFC 49 13 10 5 42 32 +10
5 Ardija 47 14 5 10 47 34 +13
6 Verdy 46 12 10 7 39 29 +10
7 Avispa 46 13 7 7 37 27 +10
8 Fagiano 44 12 8 9 31 27 +4
9 Renofa 43 11 10 7 47 46 +1
10 Vortis 41 12 5 12 35 29 +6
11 Montedio 40 11 7 10 34 35 -1
12 Hollyhock 39 11 6 12 34 32 +2
13 TochigiSC 38 10 8 11 29 33 -4
14 Ventforet 37 10 7 12 45 37 +8
15 Zweigen 36 9 9 11 36 37 -1
16 JEF United 35 10 5 14 49 56 -7
17 EhimeFC 33 9 6 14 24 38 -14
18 FC Gifu 32 9 5 15 36 43 -7
19 Albirex 29 8 5 16 30 45 -15
20 Roasso 26 7 5 17 37 55 -18
21 Sanga 25 7 4 17 25 41 -16
22 Kamatamare 24 6 6 16 23 49 -26

J3 Standings

. Team Pts W D L GF GA G.Dif.
1 FCRyukyu 35 10 5 3 35 20 +15
2 Azul Claro 32 9 5 3 19 9 +10
3 KagoshimaU 31 8 7 3 26 17 +9
4 FukushimaU 28 6 10 2 21 18 +3
5 Gainare 27 8 3 7 24 23 +1
6 Gamba U23 26 7 5 6 31 25 +6
7 Thespa 25 7 4 7 18 21 -3
8 Cerezo U23 24 6 6 6 24 23 +1
9 Blaublitz 24 7 3 8 17 16 +1
10 YSCC 23 5 8 5 26 22 +4
11 Sagamihara 23 6 5 6 29 27 +2
12 Grulla 23 7 2 9 22 30 -8
13 Parceiro 22 5 7 6 23 23 0
14 FujiedaMyFC 21 6 3 8 18 22 -4
15 Kataller 20 6 2 10 21 32 -11
16 Giravanz 14 3 5 9 13 27 -14
17 FCTokyo U23 13 3 4 11 18 30 -12