The La Liga campaign of 2011/12 will be remembered as the season José Mourinho’s Real Madrid finally wrestled the title off The Catalan’s. Les Meringues did it in some style.
A record breaking 100 point-haul, which included a remarkable 121 goals at a goal difference of +89 topped off a remarkable season. In this short piece, I will be naming my team of the season.
Despite conceding three more goals than rival keeper Victor Valdes, Spanish number one Iker Casillas is my choice for goal-keeper of the season, following a string of remarkable, important saves, including a breathtaking save to deny Xavi Hernandez a goal in El Clasico.
Iker Casillas remains in the perennial ‘best goal-keeper in the world’ discussion year-after-year and he shows no signs of deteriorating any time soon. A modern great at the goalkeeping position – it’s easy to forget he is still only thirty-one years old, having him being around for over a decade.
Filling the wing-back roles are two players that will be plying their trade at the Nou Camp next season. Dani Alves continued to showcase his attacking prowess game-after-game. His level of consistency since his move to Barcelona has been exceptional, and his 13 assists and 2 goals are certainly a good contribution to the side that just missed out on the La Liga crown.
Jordi Alba’s name has shot into prominence following a very good Euro 2012 campaign, which was topped off with a lovely finish in the 4-0 victory that won the trophy for the Spanish. Even without taking that into account, Jordi Alba had a very good season in the Valencia side that finished 3rd.
His creativity, pace and remarkable technique meant that he was one of the first names on the team sheet. With his move to Barcelona sealed, Jordi Alba’s reputation looks set to continue to grow. Spain’s questionable left-back issue has definitely been solved for the next few major tournaments. Unlucky to miss out here was Real Madrid’s rampaging left-back Marcelo.
In the centre of defence, Sergio Ramos is undoubtedly a shoe-in. After converting back to the centre back role in which he used to play for Real Madrid, he has been a revelation. His good pace, strength and ability to bring the ball out from the back make Ramos a good example of the modern defender.
After playing 22 games at the heart of Athletic Bilbao’s defence, Javi Martinez edges out Carles Puyol as the second centre back. After his conversion from a deep-lying playmaker to a ball-playing centre back (Football Manager fans, bite me), we’ve seen a player show great versatility, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Spanish National Team, or executives at the Nou Camp.
Martinez is a player I could definitely see alongside Gerard Pique in the heart of the Barcelona defence for years to come. Pepe was very hard to leave out, however Javi Martinez’s adaptation to a new role really impressed me.
In the centre of midfield, Xavi’s inclusion will surprise no-one. Another very consistent season for the playmaker, he managed to also score over 10 league goals, which is a record at his tender age. Yes, his legs are starting to diminish, but there’s no doubt that he continues to ooze class.
Alongside Xavi, Santi Cazorla makes the cut after a remarkable end to the season. He was one of the key-players as Manuel Pellegrini’s Malaga side made the Champions League.
Nine league goals, with countless other involvement in the engine room of the up and coming Malaga side means that he makes the cut. Notable mentions to Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso, who both had good seasons, but I felt the way in which Cazorla led Malaga to the top-four just edged them out.
Filling the right-flank of a potent front four, I’ve gone for Mesut Ozil. The beady-eyed German was a key part of the title-winning Madrid side. He played a similar role to David Silva at Manchester City, operating from the right hand side, injecting the game with his creative juices. 17 assists just shows how much of a influence Ozil was. A pleasure to watch.
On the left, no surprises: Cristiano Ronaldo had a stunning season as he hit 46 league goals. His dazzling trickery proved too much for La Liga defenders, and he silenced many critics when he scored the winner in the Clasico which all-but sealed Les Meringues title victory.
Just off the main striker, in a false-nine role, I’ve gone for 3-time World Player of The Year, Lionel Messi. Ronaldo’s 46 goals were trumped by Messi’s 50. Not only did Messi net a whopping 50 goals, but he also laid on a tidy 15 assists. He continues to smash records, and this season he etched his name in Barcelona history when he became the top scorer in the Catalan club’s history.
Given the impossible task of replacing Kun Aguero, Colombian striker Falcao proved an instant hit. His Europa League campaign is what has alerted many clubs for another potential move, yet his league form was very good to say the least. 24 goals in his first La Liga season is a very good return.
Despite only being 5ft 9, he remains a force to be reckoned with in the air, and his finishing ability is up there with the best in the world. Falcao definitely proved he has the ability to play in a top league. Karim Benzema ran him very close though.
Team in full
GK – Iker Casillas
DR – Dani Alves
DC – Sergio Ramos
DC – Javi Martinez
DL – Jordi Alba
MC – Santi Cazorla
MC – Xavi
AMR – Mesut Ozil
AML – Cristiano Ronaldo
CF – Lionel Messi (My player of the season)
ST – Falcao
Published with permission from O-Posts.