Barcelona, who play Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final on Sunday, failed to retain the Uefa Champions League, but this remains a golden age for Spanish football and both Madrid giants will contest the Milan final next week.
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Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
Atletico had by far the best defence in Spain and the goalkeeper who seamlessly replaced Thibaut Courtois is one reason why. The Slovenian, 23, conceded only 18 times to win the Zamora award for best goalkeeper. The next best defence was Barca’s which let in 29 goals. In Europe, Atletico would not have reached the final without their goalkeeper being on form.
Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Barca’s two most disappointing regulars were Daniel Alves at right-back and Adriano at left-back. Madrid swapped their right backs around, but Marcelo, 30, was first choice on the left. The Brazilian can surge forward, he’s aggressive and always energetic.
Jose Gimenez (Atletico)
The Uruguayan, 21, showed why he could become football’s best central defender in his 37 games for Atletico. With 25 Uruguay caps already to his name, the former Danubio player has improved significantly in his three years in Spain. Aggressive, fast and good in the air, he’s learning at the right place under Diego Simeone and alongside Diego Godin.
Diego Godin (Atletico)
Gimenez’s defensive partner for club and country, Godin, 30, is the best defender in Spain. He only scored one goal this season, but when he only made the bench at Levante for the penultimate game of the season, Atleti lost and with it were eliminated from the title race. Embodies the fight of Simeone’s side.
Javier Mascherano (Barcelona)
The former defensive midfielder should now be regarded as a fully-fledged centre-half, and it has been another impeccable season for the Argentine in his new position. What he may lack in height he more than makes up for anticipation, tenacity, and bravery. A crucial cog in the Barcelona winning machine.
Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
Barca’s central spine of Javier Mascherano, Sergio Busquets and Iniesta all performed superbly this season, but the consistent Iniesta raised his game most when Barca needed it after an April wobble. Xavi was always going to be missed, but Iniesta stepped up to create and supply the front line who’d win the league.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Messi has changed. He’s still the best player in the world, but his passing has improved and he’s less obsessed with getting goals. With Neymar and Luis Suarez so effective at taking the pressure off him by occupying other defenders, Messi often drops deeper or move to either wing to influence play. Still a game changer.
Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
Madrid’s best non-goalscorer, the former Tottenham player passes the ball beautifully and helps creates the chances for Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema in front of him. As James Rodriguez and Isco have become more peripheral in Zidane’s Madrid, Modric and Toni Kroos have become key players in their heart. They’re still likely to recruit a holding midfielder to play behind them.
Antoine Griezmann (Atletico)
The best player outside of the big two, the 25-year-old Frenchman had the best season of his career as Atletico’s talisman. The top scorer in a team which focuses on defence and doesn’t boast the firepower of the better funded rivals Atletico have done so well to disrupt, Griezmann is versatile, prolific and consistent. Easily in the top ten players in the world, probably in the top five.
Luis Suarez (Barcelona)
The first man to break the Messi-Ronaldo Pichichi duopoly for six years, the Uruguayan became only the third player (after the aforementioned pair) in Spanish football history to score 40 league goals in a season. The more aggressive, warrior like foil to Neymar and Messi, his lethal finishing makes him the best centre forward in the world.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Real Madrid’s talisman scored more than 50 goals for his club for the sixth successive season and pushed Suarez on the league’s final day towards a Pichichi. Reports of his demise have been exaggerated for while Gareth Bale continues to improve, the Portuguese remains the main man at the Bernabeu.