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04.01.2008 11:09

Iniesta returns to debut arena

David Puig

Andrés Iniesta made his first team debut in the league away at Real Mallorca on December 21, 2002 in the 15th game of the campaign. The midfielder started the match and helped Barça to a 4-0 win.

Andrés Iniesta will return to the scene of his first team league debut for Barça this weekend as Frank Rijkaard's side travel to Ono Stadium. Just over five years ago, when the stadium was still known as Son Moix, the Blaugrana played a make or break game against the Balearic outfit against a home team containing Samuel Eto'o. Barça were 13th in the table and just two points above the relegation zone.

The coach at the time Louis van Gaal chose Iniesta to step up to the top flight at just 18 and named the Fuentealbilla playmaker in the starting team and he went on to play 59 minutes and settle in well. The Blaugrana won by four goals in a game that saw Patrick Kluivert score a goal and Eto'o and Alvaro Novo sent off.

Ninth game against Mallorca

If Iniesta plays in the match on Saturday then it will be the ninth time that he has faced Mallorca in his career since making his debut in the 2002-03 campaign. The only game that he has missed came a year later when he was unavailable for Barça's 3-1 victory in Son Moix.

iniesta0607.jpgSince that encounter, Iniesta has been a regular in games against Mallorca and, despite not being a natural goalscorer knows what it feels like to hit the net in Son Moix as he added his name to the scoresheet last season as he netted the third of Barcelona's four goals in a 4-1 win.

An indispensable player

Iniesta's official first team debut came against Club Brugge in the Champions League in Belgium during the 2002-03 campaign when he was included in the side for the group game which Barça won 1-0.

This season he is the most used out-field player as he has appeared in 17 matches, completing a total of 1464 minutes. Only Víctor Valdés has played more as the keeper as 1530 minutes under his belt. Since his debut, Iniesta has played 141 league games for the Blaugrana, 39 European matches and 15 Copa del Rey games.
Iniesta returns to debut arena
Record breaker
Andrés Iniesta has already beaten his record number of games and minutes played over the past three seasons at this stage of the campaign as he has appeared in 17 games and plyed 1464 minutes this term. Last year he had played 16 games and managed 1141 minutes, while the year before he had 14 matches and 617 minutes under his belt.

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