La Liga Team of the Season 2017-18

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The English PFA have announced their team of the year – Sergio Aguero making it finally, and along with the usual plaudits and trolls, we were struck with an idea… why not come up with a team of the season for arguably the best league in world football at the moment, La Liga?

The formation is a slightly weird, and totally unbalanced, 3-4-3 – but the intention of this exercise is to pick out the best and most impressive players in the league isn’t it? So forgive that and read on.

Without much ado, then, here goes… your hate, comments, and favourite picks are welcomed in the comments:

Goalkeeper

Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga

GK: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen

The German has gone up a level – or three – this season. Combining his usual masterful distribution of the ball with some astounding shot-stopping reflexes, Ter Stegen has brought into his game the one thing that was missing for so long – sheer, mind-numbing consistency.

Easily among the top 2 goalkeepers in the world at the moment – alongside David De Gea (as for Manuel Neuer, let’s see how well he recovers from this major injury layoff) – and his place was never in much doubt.

Honourable mention:

Neto

The Brazilian has been brilliant for Valencia after replacing the brilliant – yet apparently divisive – Diego Alves and deserves an honourable mention.

Defenders

Barcelona v Malaga - La Liga

RCB: Sergi Roberto

This is a bit of cheating, but Sergi Roberto has been so good for Barcelona that it would have been criminal to leave him out of the team. His superb handling of the ball has now been augmented by a heightened defensive awareness and that’s made him a much more complete defender… and has kept the highly rated Nelson Semedo on the bench for Barca.

 

CB: Gerard Pique

Ah, the old master. Pique has had a tempestuous time at Barca, full of incredible highs and some oddly deep lows but this season, he’s been Ernesto Valverde’s sergeant on the field – marshaling his defence expertly and playing a large role in ensuring Barca have remained unbeaten so far in the league

LCB: Lucas Hernandez

To have a La Liga all-star defense without an Atletico man in it would be tantamount to blasphemy… and while the usual candidate would be Diego Godin, this season Lucas Hernandez’s phenomenal rise has made him this season’s pick. Comfortable at left-back and in the center, Hernandez has been brilliant all season.

Honourable mentions:

Real Betis v Real Madrid - La Liga

Marc Bartra

He’ll always be tainted by that one moment in time when he was forced to take part in a foot-race with Gareth Bale in a high-tension Copa Del Rey final and made to look like Wile E Coyote taking on the Road Runner, but since his return to Spain in January – Real Betis have looked a different side, and the Sevillanos have the Catalan to thank for this new-found defensive solidity.

Filipe Luis

Seriously, the lot of them have conceded just 15 goals in 32 games. Nobody drills a defence quite like Diego Simeone, eh?

Midfielders

Real Betis v Atletico Madrid - La Liga

RM: Joaquin Sanchez

Before you throw your mobile onto the floor, let me explain. Romance must at times triumph over cold-hard objectivism.

 

Joaquin’s story is unlike any other, playing some of his best football at the ripe old age of 36, still playing on the wings, playing for his hometown club – he’s the heartbeat of a team that no-one expected to do well and his usual incisive dribbling has been supplemented by an under-rated ability to control the tempo of the match in the now-well-known Quique Setién way.

CM: Geoffrey Kondogbia

Laughed out of Inter Milan, Geoffrey Kondogbia looked all set to join the ranks of those who were hyped up far too early, far too easily, but at Valencia, the Frenchman has refound the form that had so many people raving over him. Strong, almost impossible to dispossess, smart in his positioning and possessed of an underrated footballing brain, Kondogbia has been a big reason behind Valencia’s smashing resurgence this season

CM: Saul Niguez

The Atleti favourite has been quietly brilliant all season – comfortable across midfield, he’s been used predominantly in the center where his immense ability to dribble his way out of trouble, astute reading of the game, and no-holds-barred tackling are put to best use.

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He’s one of those who embody Diego Simeone’s fighting spirit on the field – and he’s been consistently excellent all season.

LM: Andres Iniesta

It had looked like we had seen the best of Iniesta a long time ago, and whenever we thought of the great man we did so with a touch of sadness… was he really past it?

Ernesto Valverde refused to conform to those notions and putting all of his trust in the slight Spanish wizard has paid off for him. Playing at the left of an unorthodox 4-4-2, Iniesta has been playing some of the best football he’s played for quite a long time now – making those incredible eye-of-the-needle passes, ensuring the Barca passing carousel goes round and round and generally being almost as unplayable as he was at his peak.

Honourable mentions:

Eibar v Real Madrid - La Liga

Toni Kroos

Like almost all of his teammates, the German midfielder started off rather slowly… but he’s picked up since then and is playing close to his mesmerizingly efficient best – at his peak, there’s no better central midfielder on the planet.

Sergio Busquets

The Catalan just misses out on the team this season – if it had been three in the middle, there’s no way he’s missing out. He’d gone missing last season – like the whole of Barca’s midfield – but he’s almost back to his incredible best this time around.

Dani Parejo

Valencia’s captain and heartbeat, Parejo’s midfield mastery has enabled Marcelino to weave his magic, building one of Europe’s most exciting teams around the Spaniard’s undoubted talents.

La Liga Team of the Season 2017-18

Real Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga

Forwards

RW: Iago Aspas

 

Iago Aspas has gone under the radar for far too long… the Spaniard long maligned by the English-speaking media for his hopeless stint with Liverpool has been consistently brilliant for gutsy Celta Vigo – their primary attacking weapon, scoring 20 and assisting 5 – the best numbers of anyone outside the top three sides in La Liga.

F9: Lionel Messi

False nine, by the by.

Messi has been mesmerising all season, at times a one-man demolition crew that’s ripped through La Liga like he’s a newbie with a point to prove. Whether from set pieces or from that usual combination of magical dribbling and outside-of-the-box shooting, he’s been absolutely unstoppable this season.

LW: Cristiano Ronaldo

If you’d suggested Ronaldo would make any team of the year around December, you’d have been laughed out of the room. Say it now, and you’d be met with quiet nods of “yeah, yeah”. What an utter phenom he is – 23 goals at the rate of one every 91 minutes; and he had 1 in his first 9!

Honourable mentions:

Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid - La Liga

Antoine Griezmann

He, too, started slowly – but by the time 2018 came around, he’d hit his stride. Brilliant on the ball, and capable of the most brilliant finishes, Griezmann is a talent whose star isn’t waning anytime soon.

Luis Suarez

23 goals, 6 assists, and he’s only just getting back to his best. Now, that’s a top, top class striker.

Manager

FC Barcelona Unveil New Head Coach Ernesto Valverde

Ernesto Valverde

Valverde is a much-maligned individual at the moment – such is the insanely high expectations Barcelona have – but he’s improved Barca considerably since taking over, he’s gotten them on an unbeaten run that’s absolutely mind-boggling and he’s done it all with the minimum of fuss.

Credit where it’s due, please

Honourable mention:

Quique Setién

Real Betis are 5th in La Liga… and they are there playing a brand of football that is quite simply the most entertaining around. If you can’t love that for the brilliant feat that is, then, well…

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