Andres Iniesta Barcelona shows his mind and covers brain game | Sean Ingle

Less than a minute after replacing Ivan Rakitic during a strangely dissonant El clásico, andrés Iniesta, Barcelona once again to sing a sweeter tune. His first act was to sail to the center to recover from Gerard Pique and exchange in “stenochku” with Lionel Messi – BAM, BAM, BAM, which began a 31-pass move. His next to create a chance for Neymar, he crashed over. Later, he led a glorious eye of the needle ball, Messi with the match at his feet, screwed wide.

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However, Madrid have stolen a draw at the death, but with Iniesta back from injury as a conductor in Barcelona and collagen, the team looked whole again. Of course, his technical and physical talents remain everyday, even at 32, but it was his football intelligence is the ability to find space and time amid the hustle and bustle, right-of-way, all right – what really stood out. It is not surprising that Belgium’s Manager, Roberto martínez, then suggested that Iniesta was “the third eye”.

Most of us understand that an exceptionally high football IQ looks like from watching and playing for many years. But, interestingly, a group of Scandinavian scientists based mainly at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm – one of the most prestigious medical universities, now are convinced that they can identify it and break down its component parts, just from the brain of the game in the laboratory.

Their initial research was based on testing the cognitive abilities of the 57 men and women players of the same age and level of education of the three top divisions in Sweden. Their goal was simple: to define “Executive functions of each player” – from the point of view of a layman, their skills in areas such as problem solving,“ planning, multitasking, cognitive flexibility and ability to cope with novelty”. Scientists emphasize that this is different from IQ. During one test, for example, players must draw a series of not repeating geometric patterns on paper to check out their “free design”, a famous study of creativity under pressure.

It sounds like the attitude of professional football in qualifying for juggling oranges possession, a juice bar. However, the scientists of the paper, the Executive functions predict the success of Top‑soccer players, has released two amazing finds.

First, as the senior-elite and semi-elite players significantly better performance of Executive function compared with the normal population – with the elite men and women ahead of the semi-elite. Second, the Executive function was able to predict which players could do better in terms of goals and assists over the next two years.

You can be skeptical. If so, it may reassure you to know that Iniesta and Xavi were also, when the researchers turned to check them out. Professor Predrag Petrovic tells me that both men played in the previous day and was training in various locations before the test, so they have the right not to be sharper. Even Iniesta was in the TOP 0.1% for fluency design and incredibly well scored that neurologists call “inhibition” – the ability to change learned behavioral responses in such a way that makes it easier to perform specific tasks. Javi was also very high scores in the tasks that involves scanning, analysis and imagination.

There are, of course, something for the clubs. An obvious starting point is to consider Executive functions tests in less young people-team members who can alert their football intelligence that can be replaced. As a psychologist, thorbjørn Vestberg sharply put it: “we are confident that 16-year-old Iniesta would have done in Swedish or English football, which is often the physicality prizes at this age?”

Such tests can also be used as part of a wider health, allowing Clubs to assess cognitive the strong and weak points. Perhaps even – and this is a stretch – whether for education of Executive functions beyond the football field, with the help of computer learning, it can make better players.

Blake Wooster, co-founder of the football business of the 21st club, which works with several leading parties, said such studies can still be a “quantum leap”. However, it also indicates the way of measuring the intelligence game: using match film and Analytics. “Imagine that you are looking at a situation where the winger is able to cross cut it back or shoot,” he says. “We can already measure the impact of decisions of the player on the probability goal, which can translate into a measure game intelligence”.

How scientists are putting the finishing touches on a new document on Executive function can confidently predict the success of the 12 – to 19-year-old players, meanwhile, Morten Kringelbach, Oxford University Professor, admits that he was surprised not more interest. “Very few people take it all seriously,” he says. “They invest money in exploration and selection of players, but a potential gold mine.”

Perhaps this is because the methods that use geometric shapes, dots and laboratory tests to identify football intelligence is a bit exoteric. But the last book of the Iniesta, the artist, tells the story of Tonny Bruins – the right hand man Johan Cruyff – teaching the concept of total football with pieces and Board. In the end, the player asks: “What is it?” And Bruins, it’s basic Spanish, he answers: “Yes, that’s all. Football is simple. You need to divide the field into triangles and the key is always to possess the ball and create excellence.”

And Iniesta does it better than anyone.