P i c k O n e P l a y e r
Iñigo Martínez or Marc Bartra?
Now 28 years old, they were once said to be the future of Spain’s defence. While they had some dips in form, they are reaching their peak and are key figures in their respective La Liga teams.
Iñigo Martínez is one of the main reasons behind the great defensive numbers of Athletic Club, who have only conceded 13 goals in La Liga. In the past year he has made the Lions’ fans completely forget about Laporte and he’s going through the best moment in his career. A leader with charisma, nerve and quality that has perfectly connected with the crowd of San Mamés.
Garitano’s system, with the lines very tight and little spaces, is clearly benefitting the centre-backs, but Iñigo is making his teammates better too. Authoritative and talented when taking the ball from the back, and an imposing figure in aerial duels, he’s always intense, well positioned and attentive to go down to tackle. In many ways we could say that he’s similar to Sergio Ramos – differences apart, of course. Moreover, with age he has been erasing those lapses in concentration that penalised him so much at the start. He’s in pole position to be Ramos’ partner in the upcoming Euro.
Marc Bartra is the complete opposite, much softer and less aggressive. As he rose through the ranks of La Masía, he demonstrated that he had all the conditions a Barça centre-back should have. While he made a difference in possession, either with his passes or by carrying the ball, defensively he relied on his anticipation and measure of distances. The problem is that reality has been unkind with his virtues and punitive with his flaws. At Barcelona, defenders less special than him have performed better. Masche, for example.
So used to dominating through possession, he now clearly lacks many defensive concepts, and even makes some very childish mistakes. It’s like he hasn’t improved in the past 5 years. “You must be doing something wrong to be at Betis”, Setién once told him.
Bartra has always been one of my personal favourites, but I must admit that, at present, Iñigo Martínez is better and far more reliable.
Who do you prefer?