Andres Iniesta awed by chance to play in Brazil
BARCELONA, Spain (AP)
Even with World Cup and European Championship titles behind him, Spain's midfielder Andres Iniesta is still over-awed by the chance to play in Brazil.
He'll get his opportunity on Sunday when Spain faces Uruguay in Group B of the Confederations Cup.
Spain and Brazil are favored to play for the title at the World Cup warm-up tournament, and the Barcelona midfielder says he is extra motivated to reach the final because it will be played at the legendary Maracana Stadium.
''For me and for any other player, going to Brazil to play football is one of a kind,'' Iniesta said. ''First in the Confederations Cup, and then later to go back for the World Cup, it will be magical.
''Brazil is special for all of us. I just hope we can play important matches in the Maracana, it would mean that the national team had gone far in both tournaments.''
Iniesta has helped Spain rise to the top of world football and stay there for its unprecedented run of three major titles, with two European championships around the 2010 World Cup.
The 29-year-old Spaniard is one of the few European players whose creativity and sleek dribbling can draw comparisons with the most jaw-dropping maneuvers produced by Brazil's long line of exquisite playmakers.
Brazil's lineage of stars runs from Pele all the way to Iniesta's newest teammate at Barcelona, 21-year-old sensation Neymar.
Iniesta played against Neymar in the final of the 2011 Club World Cup, when Barcelona came out on top in a commanding 4-0 win over Brazilian club Santos.
''It would be very special to play against Neymar and the Brazilian national team because of what it represents and the level of talent it has,'' said Iniesta, the man who scored the extra-time goal to win the 2010 World Cup final. ''A Spain vs. Brazil final would be an amazing game, but we have to see how the group phase goes.''
Iniesta doesn't score many goals - he has never reached 10 goals in a season in 11 years with Barcelona - but he has a knack of netting memorable ones. Besides the one that was worth a world championship, his goal to edge Barcelona beyond Chelsea in the 2009 Champions League is one of the most important in the history of the Catalan club.
''To have the opportunity and the good fortune to score goals is unique,'' Iniesta wrote in a recent Internet chat. ''I'm privileged to have made so many people happy.''