‘The world of football has possibly never known a man to distribute the ball like Xavi Hernández (L). Arguably only Andrea Pirlo (R) in the modern game can rival him in being so niggardly with possession.’ Photographs: Reuters and EPA.

Someone calculated that the gematria values – where a numerical value is assigned to a letter – of Xavi (56) and pass (55) and they are almost iden(...)

Orchestrating everything is Messi, an all-round genius who could run past four players or pick out a runner on the far side with a no-look pass. There’s no way to tell.

Rio Ferdinand tells a story in his autobiography about the time he asked Thierry Henry to pick a favourite between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Mes(...)