Lo Mejor de la liga – The Best of La Liga 12/13
The Spanish league season came to an exciting end on Saturday evening. The season had it’s usual mix of drama, controversy and excitement and after all of the season’s highs and lows everyone can relax for a few months of siesta.
It’s time to have a look back at some of the success stories from La Liga this season:
Barcelona – Barça were crowned champions of Spain for the 22nd time. They also managed to equal Real Madrid’s record points total of 100 points in the league. From start to finish they sat on top of the league and in all truth had it won before Christmas. They have blown away most teams they have come up against and are deserved winners.
Their ability to continue despite the absence of manager Tito Vilanova while he was in New York receiving treatment for cancer is to be commended and shows the character of the side.
Atletico Madrid – It’s not common for Atleti to be included in a best section, but Diego Simeone has changed the Rojiblancos from serial-underachievers to an incredibly consistent force. They achieved their highest points total in the top division since they won it in 1996 and only lost three games more than city rivals Real Madrid all season.
The side is as good as it has been in many years and while losing Falcao will be a massive blow to them, they should be able to keep most of their squad and build on this season’s success. They have already added 20 year old Leo Baptistao from Rayo to help cover the loss of Falcao.
Real Sociedad – The side from San Sebastian managed to pip Valencia to the final Champions League spot on the final day of the season to cap off what has been a brilliant campaign for Philippe Montanier’s side. La Real have been the best side to watch all season and boast some fantastic players in their ranks such as Inigo Martinez, Asier Illarramendi, Carlos Vela, Imanol Agirretxe, Ruben Pardo, Antoine Griezmann, Carlos Martinez and captain Xabi Prieto.
While Montanier has already agreed to coach Rennes next season, his ability to steer the side to the Champions League will hopefully mean that they can hold on to most of their stars for at least another season. The best side that Sociedad have had in 10 years, it will be great to see them strutting their stuff in the Champions League next season.
Rayo Vallecano – Despite a multitude of financial problems, Rayo continue to over-achieve in La Primera. The side from Vallecas finished an impressive 8th while continuing to play attacking and entertaining football. All this despite losing star forward Michu to Swansea last season. Manager Paco Jemez is to thank for much of this success and he has agreed to coach the side for another season, great news for Rayo fans.
Malaga – It has been well documented that Malaga are in financial meltdown, missing owners, players not being paid, the situation has been bleak this season for the South-coast side. The fact that the players have continued to perform so brilliantly is testament to the managerial skills of the soon to be Manchester City manager, Manuel Pellegrini.
Malaga finished sixth in the table and came seconds away from a Champions League semi-final, an incredible effort from players that weren’t guaranteed a wage for much of the season. Unfortunately for Malaga they will lose many of their stars, with the likes of Isco garnering interest from the top clubs in Europe.
Malaga’s season has been tumultuous and they deserve a lot of credit for what they have managed to achieve. Manuel Pellegrini will be in England next season but he’ll have a street named after him in Malaga, as a thank you for his time at the club.
Javier Aguirre – When the former Atletico manager took charge of Espanyol after 13 games they were rock bottom of the table and quite frankly didn’t look like they were capable of moving from their. Aguirre however, managed to turn things around for the side who had a string of good results after Christmas to help them avoid a relegation battle and finish in 13th spot.
Roberto Soldado – After Valencia’s failure to make the Champions League next season, it’s difficult to find positives with their side, but Soldado is definitely one. He notched an impressive 24 goals for the Mestalla side this season and has improved a lot on recent seasons performances. The Spaniard often found problems with consistency but this season he has been an omnipresent force for Valencia, scoring important goals and earning points for his side.
Alvaro Negredo – When you mention Soldado you have to mention Negredo, the two have been in competition for several years now as the best Spanish strikers in la Primera. Negredo scored a remarkable four goals against Soldado’s Valencia on the final day to deny them a Champions League spot and earn himself the Zarra trophy – awarded to the top scoring Spaniard in La Liga.
Like Soldado though, his side’s overall performances have been poor, with Sevilla only winning two matches on the road all season. It’s their deplorable away form that has cost them. Negredo’s performances have brought about interest from some top English sides and he may be on the move.
Messi and Ronaldo – These two sit on top of the scoring charts again this season, Messi with a stunning 46 goals and Ronaldo with 34. They have been head and shoulders above the rest once again and continue to show they are the best.
For much of the season Ronaldo performed when it seemed like nobody else was capable or even interested. Clearly frustrated at times, he continued to perform and improve his game. Messi too, had similar problems when he was required to drag Barça through some tough games. Both of them will be back next season and will no doubt provide more ridiculous statistics and performances.
The worst of La Liga to follow…