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Ilkay Gündogan has quickly become one of the most essential parts of the Xavi Hernández game plan, having just completed a run of ten matches from start to finish. The last time he didn't play the full ninety was when he came on as a substitute against Betis in La Liga. Since the 5-0 win over Antwerp, Gündogan has not missed a single second of action.
In that time he has also played two friendlies for Germany, and may well feature in the next two as well, against Turkey and Austria.
There is little doubt that as well as his obvious ability, his leadership and experience are also valuable assets, and Xavi clearly likes to have the former Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City man on the field to guide the younger players around him.
Gündogan's many contributions this season include three assists, one for Pedri on the opening day of the league, a corner for Kounde to convert two games later and another last weekend against Real Sociedad, finished off by Araujo.
One more would already equal his season record of four, achieved in 2014/15 at Brorussia and also 2021/22 and 2022/23 at Man City.
Playing ten full games in a row is not a common thing under Xavi, with Gündogan just the fifth player to do that. Jordi Alba (10) and Sergio Busquets (12) were the only ones to do so in Xavi's first season in charge, and last season the only pair were Jules Kounde (13) and Robert Lewandowski (15), making the Pole the player to have completed the longest run without spending a single second on the bench, always counting all official competitions.