TBR 2013/14 La Liga Team of the Season
An incredible La Liga season from start to finish came to a conclusion at the weekend in typical dramatic fashion. A season which began with reigning Champions Barcelona racking up 8 consecutive wins, eventually saw them crumble to 3 draws in the final three games of the season – in turn throwing away the League title. With world record signing Gareth Bale at hand, Real Madrid made their title charge mid-way through the season, but ultimately placed too much emphasis on their upcoming Champions League Final, losing focus on the league crown at the most crucial time. That therefore allowed Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid to storm through the faltering pack, and win their first La Liga title for 18 years in a final day decider (where they only needed a draw) against Barcelona.
Aside from the “Big Three”, teams like Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla, Villarreal and Rayo Vallecano have equally earned a mention for their performances this season. Taking all teams and players into account accordingly, picking a Team of the Season was certainly not as easy as first thought.
Goalkeeper – Thibaut Courtois
In what was his third consecutive season on loan at Athletico Madrid, Thibaut Courtois was the outstanding Goalkeeper not only in Spain, but throughout Europe. The big Belgian was crucial to Simeone’s miserly defence, with the side conceding only 26 goals all season – the fewest in the league. Courtois will certainly be the starting Goalkeeper for hotly tipped Belgium in the upcoming World Cup, giving him another chance to showcase his talent on the biggest stage. His three year education in Spain has worked wonders for his development, but it finally looks like Chelsea are prepared to give the 22 year old the weekly starting berth that he so craves.
Defence –Sergio Ramos
Real Madrid’s temperamental vice captain has had his best season in recent memory this time out. Still only 28, Ramos is looking for double cup glory this summer with Real Madrid in the Champions League and Spain at the World Cup. As defender who is comfortable on the ball, Ramos has contributed 4 league goals and an assist this season too. Although a world class operator, there remains a question over Ramos’ discipline after his 19th red card came back in March. Although maybe too late to change his ways, Ramos is still a player you would rather play alongside than against.
Defence – Diego Godin
Uruguay are a side tipped as a dark horse for the impending World Cup, and will be aided in their quest by the defensive prowess of Diego Godin. The resolute Centre Back has had a brilliant season on all fronts, and is a crucial cog in the Atletico Madrid wheel. Atletico have showed towards the end of the season that they are a shadow of the side they are with him when he is missing. He has also chipped in with four league goals this season, including the header against Barcelona in the final game of the season that in turn gave Atletico the league title.
Defence – Filipe Luis
I personally cannot get over the fact that Filipe Luis is not in Brazil’s World Cup squad (although on standby), especially after the impressive season he has had. It is not surprising that Luis has reportedly attracted attention from all corners of Europe. The Left Back is a rarity in modern game as a full back in that he is fantastic going forward with the ball as well as a strong defender too. He is yet another key part of Simeone’s defensive unit.
Midfield – Luka Modric
It seems a long time ago that Luka Modric was being booed by his own fans at Madrid, but it was only just a year ago. After his break in season in Spain, Modric has enjoyed playing a slightly deeper role than we saw him perform for Spurs in the Premier League. Sitting alongside Xabi Alonso, Modric used his energy and pace to cover every blade of grass all season long. Don’t be fooled by his 1 goal and 6 assists record in the League this season – Modric has without question been Real Madrid’s player of the season.
Midfield – Ivan Rakitic
Croatia look set to cause some shocks in the World Cup this summer with Modric and Rakitic in the middle of the pitch. Sevilla’s captain Ivan Rakitic has finally lived up to the promise he showed with FC Basel and Schalke in the early days of his career. The versatile Midfielder who only cost Sevilla £2million in 2011 has gone on to become one of the stand out performers in La Liga on a consistent basis. 12 league goals and 12 assists give the 26 year old a record among Europe’s best midfielders for the season, and has unsurprisingly resulted in him being linked with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool in recent weeks. Winning the Europa League could well be Rakitic’s last action for Sevilla, and not a bad way to finish if that is the case.
Midfield – Koke
Koke’s special season has had him heavily linked with Manchester United and Barcelona lately, and it is no surprise that is the case after the performances he has put in week in week out for Atletico Madrid. The tireless midfielder has earned himself a place in Vicente Del Bosque’s provisional 30 man World Cup squad, and is widely expected to make the cut too. As one of the brightest success stories of the season, Koke at 22 years of age looks to have a wonderful career ahead of him – wherever he may be playing his football.
Midfield – Bale
A difficult start to his La Liga season left many Real Madrid fans questioning the world record price tag that Florentino Perez splashed on the welsh wizard. However, it is testament to his character and self belief that Gareth Bale went on to have the superb season he ended up having. Becoming the first La Liga player to do the ‘Double Double’ (reach 10 goals and 10 assists for the season), Bale went on to score 15 league goals and get 13 assists too. Considering Bale did not have a pre season with Real Madrid due to injury, expect an even better season next time out – with Real already favourites to win the 2014-15 league title.
Forward – Diego Costa
While Atletico Madrid’s special season was largely due to their defensive displays, they also had a talisman at the top end of the pitch who won games single-handedly at times. Brazil born striker Diego Costa, who has chosen to represent Spain at international level from now on, finished the season with 36 goals and 7 assists in all competitions, and consequently earned a place on the plane to Brazil. End of season heartbreak has left him a massive doubt for the Champions League Final in what could be his last game for Atletico, with Chelsea waiting to swoop.
Forward – Ronaldo
2013 was finally the year where Cristiano Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or, breaking the Messi streak of the previous four consecutive years. So often Real Madrid’s match winner, Ronaldo scored a colossal 50 goals in all competitions, and got 17 assists into the bargain. The Portugal captain sealed his nation’s place in the World Cup with 4 goals over the two leg playoff against Zlatan’s Sweden, including a hat trick in the second and decisive leg. He also picked up the Pichici Award for the top scorer in La Liga, joint winner of the European Golden Boot alongside Luis Suarez, and scorer of what could be argued as the Goal of the Season – his late backheel volley against Valencia which rescued a point for his side. On his day, Ronaldo is almost unstoppable, and will be remembered forever as one of the greats of the game.
Forward – Messi
What is seen as a poor season for Lionel Messi by his own incredibly high standards is still a highly prolific season stats wise with 41 goals in 46 games. Muscle problems kept the Argentinean out for over 2 months around the Christmas and New Year period, and he was greatly missed by his club side during this time. Since coming back though, Messi could not quite inspire his faltering side to consecutive La Liga titles; with one eye potentially on the World Cup where he will Captain Argentina in the home of arch rivals Brazil. After signing a new contract at Barca this week, it will be intriguing to see how Barca and indeed Messi will fare under new manager Luis Enrique next season.
Players unfortunate to miss out:
Antoine Griezmann – The Frenchman had a breakthrough season with 20 goals, including an early contender for the Puskas Award with his bicycle kick against Lyon in Champions League Qualification round. Expect a big team to swoop for the winger in summer, especially if he has an impressive World Cup.
Joaquin Larrivey – Larrivey was a key figure in Rayo’s resurgence towards the back end of the season. Paco Jemez’s insistence on his team playing good football eventually came to fruition, and a league finish of 12th was the end result. Rayo could go from strength to strength next season if they can keep hold of their key players and manager.
Gabi – “This is just the beginning” said Atletico club captain Gabi, after inspiring his side to league success. The defensive midfielder returned to Atletico for his second spell with the club in 2011, and was a bargain at around £2million.A career resurrection has him now as a valuable and trustworthy asset to Simeone’s side.
Aritz Aduriz – Well travelled Striker Aritz Aduriz rejoined Athletic Bilbao in 2012 for his third spell at the club, the most recent of which has undoubtedly been his most successful. 16 League Goals in 31 games propelled Bilbao to a top 4 place, and therefore a Champions League spot for the coming season.
Do you agree with the selections? Let us know in the comments and on twitter who you would have included in the La Liga Team of the Season.
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