Vissel Kobe have never finished better than seventh in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE, but this season has been unlike any other in club history. The Ushi have been spectacular, ranking among the league’s best in goals scored and goals conceded. That play has catapulted them to third place, which would be a club record.

And how does a team play so well both going forward and defensively? With an outstanding midfield, and Vissel have the most decorated midfielder in the history of the league - Andrés Iniesta.

The Spanish superstar’s season started slowly due to injury, and he didn’t make his debut until May, but he played his way into fitness and form through the summer. Now, he’s looking every bit the magician of old.

Iniesta completely dominated Vissel’s last match, scoring twice and adding an assist to thump Urawa Reds in a crucial contest. That came on the heels of a slew of impressive showings where his slick passing opened the Vissel attack and his otherworldly understanding of the game allowed him to dictate tempo so the Ushi were always in charge.

It’s no coincidence that as Iniesta’s play ratcheted up, so did Vissel’s fortunes. They’re up to third place, putting a spot in next season’s AFC Champions League into play, but they still have to hold off several strong teams behind them. That fight continues this weekend with Avispa Fukuoka visiting Noevir Stadium Kobe, where Iniesta is expected to take his spot in the midfield once again and lead Vissel’s continued charge for the best season in club history.