With the 2017/18 La Liga season now over, we take a look at who makes our team of the season.
LA LIGA TEAM OF THE SEASON: 4-3-1-2
Marc-Andre ter Stegen;Antonio Barragan, Samuel Umtiti, Diego Godin, Jordi Alba; Asier Illarramendi, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Sergio Busquets; Joaquin; Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi
GK – Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)
For a long time Barcelona’s unbeaten record was preserved thanks to the heroics of their German stopper. He’s emerged this season as one of the world’s premier stoppers with his incredible athleticism and sublime passing under pressure marking him out as an instrumental figure for the champions this season.
RB – Antonio Barragan (Real Betis)
Middlesbrough should hang their heads in shame for not getting the best out of Barragan. The 30-year-old right-back returned to Spain this season with resurgent Real Betis and has shone in Quique Setien’s build-from-the-back system. Granted, he’s operated as a wing-back as Setien deploys a 3-5-1-1 shape but he’s been influential with six assists.
CB – Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona)
A tower of strength blended with silky feet, the Frenchman has been Barca boss Ernesto Valverde’s on-pitch lieutenant this season. He’s had to contend with changing partners at the heart of defence this season but has remained a consistent performer. Barca’s defensive record speaks for itself and Umtiti is a big reason for it.
CB – Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)
It’s hard to avoid picking Barca’s entire backline considering their invincibility but it was actually Atletico who conceded the least amount of goals this season. Godin has been outstanding again, cementing his reputation as one of the world’s best defenders. It’s hard to pinpoint one quality, but he’s a natural leader and a nuisance for any attacker.
LB – Jordi Alba (Barcelona)
Alba’s connection with Messi might be one of the most lethal in world football. He’s laid on five assists for the Argentine this season and the full-back’s telepathic ability to find his teammate mimics Messi’s proficiency for finding the net. Beyond that, Alba’s boundless energy and sweet left-foot has given Barca crucial width and quality crosses.
CM – Asier Illarramendi (Real Sociedad)
From the ashes of his disappointing Real Madrid stint, the midfielder has resurrected his career with La Real and has again been brilliant. He’s unquestionably the standout in a distinctly average mid-table side, scoring seven and assisting five this season. No player has passed, tackled or intercepted more than Illarramendi for Sociedad this term as well.
CM – Geoffrey Kondogbia (Valencia)
That the Valencia giant is not going to the World Cup with France says more about Les Bleus’ talent stock than it does Kondogbia because he’s arguably been the most complete midfield in Spain this season. A contrasting player to the one at Inter, he’s been a monster in ballet shoes, bullying opponents off the ball before dribbling past defenders and playing weighted passes.
CM – Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)
You cannot mistake Busquet’s incredible consistency for ordinariness. His class has been commonplace this season, a midfield metronome and ticking heartbeat of a blistering Barca side. He is the master of tempo and control, his pristine passing allowing the attacking talents ahead of him to really flourish.
AM – Joaquin (Real Betis)
The mind says Celta Vigo’s 20-goal striker Iago Aspas deserves a spot in the XI but the heart screams for Joaquin. It is impossible not to love the 36-year-old at Betis and he’s been an intoxicating force in the No10 role for Quique Setien. The dynamism has remained but so, too, the legs and he’s still one of the most talented Spanish players around.
ST – Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
A Jekyll and Hyde campaign for the Portuguese but the second-half of his season has been otherworldly. Doubt him at your peril, because the criticism appears to be his fuel and he’s motored to a staggering 22 league goals in 2018 to finish the season with 26 in total. Los Blancos have been far from their best this season but that review cannot be levelled at Ronaldo.
ST- Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Barcelona’s best player this season and every season. The Argentine has been simply absurd, practically leading the statistics in two positions with his deeper role creating chances while his finishing prowess has lifted him to the Pichichi Trophy with 34 goals scored. Goals home and away against Real Madrid are naturally the standout from another outstanding season.
Griezmann, 27, was visibly upset after being booed upon his introduction as a substitute during Los Rojiblancos’ final La Liga game of the season – a 2-2 draw against Eibar.
This follows repeat rumours about a blockbuster summer switch to Barcelona.
“I think there were 40 or 50 whistling him, but there were also 60,000 people supporting him,” said Simeone.
LaLiga champions Barca claimed a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad and it was a fitting finale for the 34-year-old, who lifted the trophy for a ninth time.
Addressing supporters on the pitch after the final whistle, Iniesta said he “leaves as a man”, having spent so long playing for the Catalan giants.
“I will move on and carry you all in my heart forever,” he said in quotes published on Marca.
“It’s been a wonderful 22 years, full of pride, and it’s been a pleasure to represent this club.
“I thank you for all the love and respect that you’ve given me since I arrived as a child, I now leave as a man.”
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde felt it was only right to give the midfielder the send-off he deserved by replacing him late in the game with Paco Alcacer.
“We wanted to compete and win, but today was Andres’ day and the crowd made it special,” Valverde told Barca TV.
“I wanted to change things at the end of the game, to coincide with Leo (Messi) on the field. It was the right moment.
“These types of players will be talked about long into the future.
“They are unrepeatable, historical players that everyone will remember.”