Men of 2010: Gerard Pique
It’s quite easy to shove the plaudits of the Barcelona team towards the wizardry of Lionel Messi, the brilliance of Xavi and Iniesta or even at the door of midfield general Sergio Busquets. But all great teams have to combine their attacking flair with defensive solidity and ultimately a defender who can act as a ring-leader.
Gerard Pique’s trophy cabinet is stock full of winners’ medals. League titles in England and Spain, not to mention back-to-back Champions League successes just about make Pique one of the most prolific winners in world football. And he’s still only 23.
This year saw Pique add a World Cup winner’s medal to that already full medal chest. Spain only conceded two goals in that tournament showing how important the Barcelona centre-back pairing of Pique and Puyol were to that system. In that tournament, Pique was the 5th highest passer of the ball with 429 completed passes with a pass completion rate of 85%. That is a phenomenal rate for a centre-back showing that he was indeed the instigator at the start of any fluid Spanish move. Whilst Puyol tends to provide the brute force, Pique is regarded as the intelligent centre-back, mopping up any danger. Although to be fair, Spain barely had any to deal with.
Meanwhile, at club level, Pique was part of the glorious Barca team that lifted La Liga. As you’d expect with any Barcelona player, Pique is quite versatile and at times, can provide a decent attacking threat.
One game in particularly that stands out for Pique’s innovation up top was the Champions League semi-final in the Nou Camp, where after 90 minutes of the Barca assault against the Inter wall, it was finally broken by Pique. He provided a sublime dragback to leave Ivan Cordoba on the deck. Not a bad finish either for a centre-back.
But the highlight of the year for Pique surely has to be keeping perennially smug Cristiano Ronaldo at bay in both El Clasico matches in 2010. Playing together at Manchester United really has made Pique wise to the majesty of CR9’s unrelenting arsenal of trickery, and if making Cristiano Ronaldo frustrated doesn’t make you Man of the Year, then I don’t know what does.
In conclusion, Gerard Pique has come a long way since he returned to Barcelona. Long gone are the memories of him letting Nicolas Anelka through on goal (a decision which made Fergie sell him) and he’s truly cemented himself as the best centre-back in the world under Pepe Guardiola. There’s not much left for the future Barcelona captain to achieve really, that’s how good he’s been in 2010.