2014/15 La Liga XI of the season
A team comprising the best players in La Liga this season - 4 Barcelona players and 3 Real Madrid players make the squad.
So here we are again at the conclusion of another La Liga season and just like the preceding campaign, we had excitement aplenty at both ends of the table right up until the last kick. There have been some wonderful team performances to delight us and plenty of individual excellence. Barcelona eventually ran out winners and naturally feature heavily in this XI, but there will be one or two surprise omissions as well as some unexpected faces.
Every player picked here deserves their place, read on to see if you agree.
Goalkeeper: Claudio Bravo – Barcelona
Although he is on the wrong side of 30, no one can question that Chile’s Claudio Bravo was the best goalkeeper in La Liga in 2014/15. Not only did he concede just 19 goals in the 37 league games that he played, Bravo also played as though he had been at Camp Nou all of his professional career. His distribution from hand or foot was incredibly accurate and his awareness of developing situations total.
That he managed to keep a much younger keeper in Marc-Andre ter Stegen out of the side says much about Bravo’s prowess and his agility was never better evidenced than when arcing backwards to tip over a goalbound effort in the penultimate game at Atletico Madrid which won Barca the title.
23 clean sheets is a league record. Not a bad start at a new club!
Right Back: Dani Carvajal – Real Madrid
There were a few contenders to consider for the right back berth including Dani Alves at Barcelona who enjoyed a stellar campaign. Purely for the energy and efficiency in his game, and given his age, 23-year-old Dani Carvajal just shades it. In a side replete with fast, attacking front players, Carlo Ancelotti has had to rely on the strength and determination of a fine back four.
Carvajal has rarely been wasteful in possession and in general terms has been the equal of just about every flying left-winger. He has allowed his short-fuse to get the better of him on occasion as Mario Mandzukic found out but take the fire out of his belly and he’s just not the same player.
Centre back: Gerard Pique – Barcelona
Barcelona’s improvement coincided with Pique’s re-emergence as a genuinely world-class exponent of the defensive art. If rumours are to be believed, then Luis Enrique wasn’t convinced as to Pique’s application earlier in the season and a spell on the bench appeared to have the desired effect.
Once back in the side, Pique was, literally and metaphorically, head and shoulders above most players on the pitch. The responsibility that had hitherto been missing from his natural game now formed part of it, and Barca were the beneficiaries.
Not once since a substitute appearance at Levante did we hear of late-night soirees, issues with beau Shakira etc. A complete turnaround in professionalism.
Centre Back: Nicolas Otamendi – Valencia
Manager Nuno Santo has a fight on his hands to keep one of his best performers Otamendi. The player has been fairly unequivocal in his desire to move elsewhere with Manchester United said to be one of those clubs interested.
Different to Pique in that he is more of a “traditional” centre-back rather than a ball player, Otamendi has been at the heart of Los Che’s run to Champions League qualification. He has added his name to the score sheet on occasion too with 6 goals this season.
Left Back: Jose Luis Gaya – Valencia
Jordi Alba hasn’t exactly regressed at Barcelona but neither has he improved to any great degree. For that reason, Otamendi’s colleague Jose Gaya gets the nod.
The teenager (he turned 20 a couple of days ago) has been in sensational form for the entire campaign, but it comes as no surprise to those have been following his upward trajectory since his debut two seasons ago. Not as pacy as Alba but not too far off in truth, Gaya can be seen motoring along the left side supporting his attackers when play allows.
He has been completely comfortable in possession and with a high quality of cross from his wide berth. It is unfair to label him as one for the future. His time is now.