Goal runs through the finest footballers in the Spanish top flight in 2012-13 and picks out the top 11 players over the course of the campaign
Barcelona were crowned champions of La Liga at the weekend as Real Madrid could only draw at Espanyol, while Atletico lost at home to the Catalan club on Sunday but have already confirmed Champions League football for next season.
Below them, Real Sociedad, Valencia and Malaga fight for the final Champions League berth, while a number of teams scrap to avoid the drop at the foot of the table. So as the action draws to a conclusion, we reveal Goal‘s La Liga Team of the Season.
Malaga’s side is built on strong foundations and goalkeeper Willy Caballero is the last line of defence. The former Elche shot-stopper has been in fine form this season, putting in a number of match-winning performances in La Liga, including 13 clean sheets for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Inigo Martinez is blossoming into an accomplished central defender and has been a big part of Real Sociedad’s success in 2012-13, providing solidity at the back and also chipping in with important goals, as in the 4-2 win at home to Malaga recently.
Meanwhile, Sergio Ramos has impressed in defence for Real Madrid. The club’s vice-captain has assumed an important leadership role in the absence of benched skipper Iker Casillas and also contributed several goals, notably the winner in Madrid’s 2-1 Clasico win over Barcelona in March.
Champions Barcelona have had their problems at the back this term, but they can usually rely on Gerard Pique. The Spain star has been below his best, but has had to line up alongside numerous different defensive partners in 2012-13 and has helped the Catalans remain solid in La Liga.
Isco stepped up for Malaga following the summer sale of Santi Cazorla to Arsenal and is now the undisputed leader of this team on the pitch. The youngster’s eight goals have helped the Andalusians stay in the race for a European place, even though a Champions League return now seems unlikely in 2013-14 – especially as the team now face a European ban for financial irregularities last year. Should he be on the market, Isco will be a man in demand.
Few players have been better this term than Andres Iniesta. The mild-mannered midfielder has enjoyed perhaps his finest season in La Liga, racking up an incredible 15 assists, including three in the 4-0 win at Levante back in November. Iniesta, Spain’s best player at Euro 2012, carried that form into the Primera Division campaign and has proved even more important than Xavi in 2012-13.
Iniesta’s Barcelona team-mate Cesc Fabregas has come under fire lately following his disappointing display against Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final second leg at the beginning of this month, but the former Arsenal captain has shone in La Liga, scoring 10 goals and assisting 11 more in the club’s title-winning campaign, his first since returning to Camp Nou in 2011.
The midfield is completed by Koke, who has been in fine form for Atletico Madrid, scoring three times and setting up eight more in a very successful season for Diego Simeone’s side, who have already secured Champions League football for 2013-14.
Cristiano Ronaldo has had his troubles in 2012-13. The Portuguese forward complained of ‘sadness’ earlier this term and also missed out on the Ballon d’Or in January, but he has been at his brilliant best since then and has hit 34 goals in as many games in La Liga this season. He has also contributed 10 assists in La Liga.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi has been ever more prolific. The Argentine was unable to convert on Sunday as he picked up another injury, ending a run of 21 league games in which he had struck at least one goal and usually more. Overall, he has hit 46 in 32 Primera Division fixtures and assisted 12 others.
Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao completes the line-up. The Colombian has been key to his side’s success in the current campaign, contributing 33 goals in all competitions this term for the capital club, including 27 in 32 Liga appearances.