LaLiga Team of the Season 2018/19: No Real Madrid players make the cut while surprise packages rule the roost

22 May

The 2018-19 LaLiga season is finally over, and with the dust settled it’s time to pick talkSPORT’s team of the season from Spain’s top-flight.

To make things a bit more interesting, we’ve placed a limit of only one player per team.

Barcelona’s players celebrate winning LaLiga this season
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Formation

3-4-1-2, in the style of Sevilla under Pablo Machin – a coach who should never have been sacked.

The Andalucians finished the season in the exact same league position as when they let go of Machin in March: sixth.

A hasty decision driven by the ego of a sporting director who thought he could do better as manager, but couldn’t.

Goalkeeper

Jan Oblak (Atlético Madrid)

The almost unbeatable Slovenian has just wrapped up his fourth consecutive Zamora Trophy for the goalkeeper in LaLiga with the lowest goals to games ratio.

Atleti had the best defensive record in the league but the numbers are deceptive: unlike the days of old, it’s not down to an impenetrable backline, but rather, the exceptional consistency of the best keeper in the world.

Forget Antoine Griezmann’s impending departure from the Metropolitano this summer – extending Oblak’s contract until 2023 is of far more importance.

Oblak has been key for Diego Simeone’s tean
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Djené (Getafe)

Getafe’s Togolese centre-back already looked encouraging last year but this season he has been exceptional.

Some defenders are reactive, but Djené is a rarer breed in that he excels at being proactive, predicting then snuffing out danger, weekend after weekend.

One of the vital cogs in a dream European finish for the Madrid side, a bigger club will surely come calling for the late bloomer, who at 27 doesn’t have a huge amount of time to waste.  

Djene Dakonam ends a Barcelona attack
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Mario Hermoso (Espanyol)
It’s not often Espanyol players get called up for Spain duty, and Mario Hermoso being a regular fixture in international squads since the autumn reflects a reliability that has helped elevate the Barcelona underdogs to their best year in over a decade.

The Blanc-i-blaus play attractive attacking football, but they’re also capable of digging in when required. Three clean sheets in their last three league games helped the Catalans get over the line and seal a European spot for the first time in 12 years. Their leader at the heart of the defence was vital in that.

Hermoso is getting the recognition he deserves this campaign
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Iñigo Martínez (Athletic Club)

Making the switch from Real Sociedad to Athletic Club is a controversial matter, but with each day Iñigo Martínez looks more like a throwback to the archetypal old-school Athletic defender, so it’s easy to see why the Basque giants were so keen to convince him.

Since Gaizka Garitano took over in December and brought back the more physical, direct style that Los Leones are known for, Martínez has flourished. Excellent in the air, sharp in his anticipation and capable of throwing his weight around to good effect in rattling opposition attackers, at 28 he should really tie down an international starting place soon.

Martinez has been a fine signing
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Midfield

Jonathan Silva (Leganés)

Logic dictates that a club with the modest resources of Leganés should not be capable of holding a better defensive record than Real Madrid, Sevilla, Real Sociedad and Athletic Club, but under Mauricio Pellegrino this season the Pepineros have done exactly that.

Pellegrino’s second most-used outfield player, Jonathan Silva is not only tireless in his covering at the back, but also capable of turning defence into attack, providing a regular threat going forward as the best modern full-backs should. Destined for bigger things.

Silva scored for Leganes against Real Madrid this season
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Dani Parejo (Valencia)

The heart and soul of a Valencia side that turned a worrying situation around into one of their best seasons in years (more on that later).

Under Marcelino Parejo has flourished into a true leader, the first name on the teamsheet for Los Che and someone who isn’t only good when they’re good, but was also excellent even when his team were dire.

Valencia’s top scorer in the league this season despite playing a deep midfield role, Parejo is finally fulfilling the potential Alfredo Di Stéfano saw in him all those years ago.

Parejo has nine goals and seven assists in LaLiga this season
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Giovani Lo Celso (Real Betis)

Real Betis have tailed off disappointingly in recent months, but signing their midfield playmaker on a long-term deal in April puts them in an exciting position for the season ahead.

Lo Celso came of age on no less a stage than the Camp Nou in November, when he pulled the strings in a momentous 4-3 win for Betis that made everyone sit up and pay attention to the other Argentinian on the pitch.

A box-to-box style player with nine goals and five assists in the league, he could just be the dynamic midfielder Messi has been longing for in the Argentinian national team.

Plenty of European clubs will be keeping an eye on Lo Celso
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Pablo Sarabia (Sevilla)

In LaLiga, 23 goals and 17 assists are ridiculous numbers for a non-striker, and Sarabia deserves far more attention than he is getting for just how lethal he has been in the final third.

Whether behind the striker or on the wing the 27-year-old has proved a nightmare to defend against, troubling and scoring against the likes of Valencia, Atlético Madrid and Barcelona.

Sarabia likes scoring against the Blaugrana so much in fact that he decided to do it in three different competitions this season. All of that should be argument enough for boyhood club Real Madrid to come calling this summer, but even if they don’t, Sarabia’s €18million buyout clause is an invitation for anyone who is paying attention.

Sarabia could be signed on the cheap this summer after a stunning season
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Forwards

Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

No explanation needed when you score 36 goals and create 13 others in the league alone.

Who else but the world’s best?
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Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo)

If ever there was such a thing as a one-man team it is Celta with Aspas this year.

The Galicians remained in danger of relegation until the final round of the season, yet for a third year running, Aspas finished as the highest-scoring Spaniard in the division.

Aspas’ 20 strikes in 27 matches account for almost 40 percent of Celta’s total goals in LaLiga 2018-19. With him in the team their loss percentage was 29 percent, without him it was 81. Celta had better hope their hero never retires.

Aspas has erased his spell at Liverpool from everyone’s minds
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Cristhian Stuani (Girona)

Girona sank like a brick after Christmas but they had hope until the very end thanks to one man.

Cristhian Stuani’s return of 19 league goals for the third poorest team in LaLiga is better than Antoine Griezmann’s for league runners up Atleti (15), Rodrigo Moreno’s for Valencia (eight), and €100million footballer Gareth Bale’s for Real Madrid (eight).

The 32-year-old Uruguayan has peaked late in his career but what a peak it is, including a brace that earned Girona an historic draw at the Camp Nou and a goal in an equally memorable club-first win at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Stuani has scored against every member of Spain’s top four in 2018/19, so he’s certainly too good to play second tier football next season.

Stuani has netted against the best in LaLiga despite Girona’s relegation
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Coach

Marcelino (Valencia)

There are a number of reasonable candidates for coach of the year in Spain, but what Marcelino pulled off in taking Valencia from 15th place in mid-December to fourth by the final round of the season is truly remarkable.

It could all have panned out very differently had the people behind the scenes pulled the trigger when things were at their worst, but the conviction with which key players defended their gaffer spoke volumes, as did the fact that a fan base with a reputation for being fickle never really wavered.

The final outcome was proof that standing by your coach can be just as fruitful a solution as mixing things up. This is the first time Valencia have managed to “defend” a champions league spot since 2011, and with a Copa del Rey final against a depleted Barcelona coming up this weekend, Marcelino’s last laugh could soon grow even louder.

Valencia’s Spanish coach Marcelino got his side back on track after a tough start could yet win a trophy
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Lee Roden’s LaLiga Team of the Season with a limit of only one player per team

How would this team do in LaLiga?

Golden Shoe 2019: Lionel Messi battling Kylian Mbappe, Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Aguero for top European goalscorer award

1 Apr

It’s the final stretch of the 2018/19 season as teams target major trophies.

However, there are also individual prizes up for grabs, including respective leagues’ Golden Boots.

Kylian Mbappe scored last weekend as Paris Saint-Germain beat Toulouse

But as Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Sergio Aguero continue to score for fun, who has the most domestic goals from all of Europe’s leagues?

Here, talkSPORT.com looks at the standings for the Golden Shoe award.

For those of you who don’t know how the Golden Shoe standings are calculated, UEFA’s definition is as follows:

The ESM [European Sports Media] Golden Shoe rankings are based on league goals scored multiplied by a figure denoting the difficulty ranking of each league, which is calculated using the UEFA coefficient list.

Only the top five leagues [Premier League, Serie A, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1] have a x2 multiplier; middle ranked leagues have a x1.5 multiplier, while the lower-ranked leagues are x1.

11) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal, Premier League) – 19 goals – Golden Shoe calculation: 19×2= 38 points

Arsenal are the third-highest scorers in the Premier League this season

11) Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, Premier League) – 19 goals – Golden Shoe calculation: 19×2= 38 points

Salah hasn’t scored in his last six league matches

11) Nicolas Pepe (Lille, Ligue 1) – 19 goals – Golden Shoe calculation: 19×2= 38 points

Pepe has been linked with Arsenal and Manchester United

11) Sergio Aguero (Manchester City, Premier League) -19 goals – Golden Shoe calculation: 19×2= 38 points

Aguero equalled Thierry Henry’s Arsenal goalscoring record with a goal at Fulham

11) Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus, Serie A) – 19 goals – Golden Shoe calculation: 19×2= 38 points

Ronaldo joined Juventus in a £100m transfer in the summer

10) Luuk de Jong (PSV, Eredivisie) – 27 goals – Gold Shoe calculation: 27×1.5= 40.5 points

Luuk de Jong finished off a beautiful move for PSV
Luuk de Jong has been in good form for PSV

4) Mbaye Diagne (Galatasaray, Turkish Super Lig) – 28 goals – Golden Shoe calculation: 28×1.5= 42 points

Galatasaray are second in the Turkish Super Lig

4) Luis Suarez (Barcelona, LaLiga) – 20 goals – Golden Shoe calculation: 20×2= 40 points

Suarez is in his fifth season at Barcelona

4) Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, La Liga) – 21 goals – Golden Shoe calculation: 21×2= 42 points

Real Madrid star Karim Benzema has been in good form this season

4) Duvan Zapata (Atalanta, Serie A) – 21 goals – Golden Shoe calculation: 21×2= 42 points

Zapata has been linked with a move to Arsenal in the past

4) Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, Bundesliga) – 21 goals – Golden Shoe calculation: 21×2= 42points

Lewandowski is the Bundesliga’s top goalscorer

4) Krysztof Piatek (Genoa/AC Milan, Serie A) – 21 goals – Golden Shoe calculation: 21×2= 42 points

Piatek moved to AC Milan from Genoa in January

3) Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria, Serie A) – 22 goals – Golden Shoe calculation: 22×2= 44 points

Quagliearella, 36, is the top scorer in Serie A this season

2) Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain, Ligue 1) – 30 goals – Golden Shoe calculation: 30×2= 60 points

Mbappe is second in the domestic goalscoring charts for Europe’s big five leagues

1)  Lionel Messi (Barcelona, LaLiga) – 33 goals – Golden Shoe calculation: 33×2= 66 points

Messi tops the charts, who else?