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Cyler’s Season Awards: La Liga — Part 2

The Spanish mid-table has a healthy mix of both electric underdogs and sleeping giants.

Villarreal v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by ADRIA PUIG/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The La Liga is definitely not at its peak as of late, but the mid-table has quite a few interesting teams and setups that have made for a lot of fun in my time spent analysing.

If you haven’t checked out our 2. Bundesliga awards, I would highly recommend familiarising yourself with them as some of the names mentioned could come up as top performers in the top flight of Germany this season. The bottom half of the table can be found here while the top half of the table can be found here. I’ve also covered France’s top flight of football — the Ligue 1 — which you can find here, here and here.

If you haven’t seen the first part of the La Liga review which covered the teams in the bottom third of the table, you can find it here.

Let us move further through Spain now.

13th - Elche CF

Elche CF v Getafe CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Francisco Macia/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Der Kaiser: Johan Mojica (LB/LWB)
Mojica is a name all Spanish football enthusiasts are familiar with as he has played for a multitude of Spanish teams. This season he was not unbeatable at the back but his contributions going forward pip him above the rest. 2 goals and 5 assists is impressive for a left-back in a mid-table team.

Fußballgott: Fidel (LM/CM)
Fidel did play on the left of a 4-4-2 for most of the season but Mojica’s runs forward made it so he was effectively a third central midfielder, and this hybrid role saw him explore half-spaces impressively. His eye for a pass as well as his ability to beat his man was impressive, and even when Mojica would not explore the wide spaces Fidel’s ability to get wide and cross was commendable.

Der Bomber: Pere Milla (ST)
Milla was one of the best super subs in the league, with 3 goals and an assist out of his total of 8 goals and 3 assists coming off the bench. His ability to change the complexion of a game within just a few minutes was unprecedented.

Meister of the Season: Lucas Boyé (ST)
The former Torino striker was once touted as a wonderkid, and while he would fail to reach that in the eyes of many, Boyé is still a fantastic player. 7 goals and 3 assists in 24 appearances is a great return. Honestly, you could swap Milla and Boyé and I wouldn’t bat an eye, but I feel Boyé overall had a larger impact on the play of the team with his ability to press tirelessly, beat men in the dribble and even take long shots.

12th - Rayo Vallecano

RCD Mallorca v Rayo Vallecano - La Liga Santander Photo by Cristian Trujillo, Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Der Kaiser: Stole Dimitrievski (GK)
Dimitrievski was frankly unreal at times, making saves expected only from the cream of the crop of goalkeepers. His distribution may not have been top-notch but his pure shot-stopping ability puts him head and shoulders above his goalkeeping compatriots in the bottom half of the table.

Fußballgott: Santiago Comesaña (CDM/CM)
Comesaña’s versatility saw him employed as a 6, 8 and 10 across the season. He would play the vast majority of his games as a 6, and for good reason as his ability to read the game, screen the backline and overall oppress the midfield with his physicality and tireless movement was good.

Der Bomber: Álvaro García (LW)
García is part of a dying breed: the true winger. García’s crossing was top notch throughout, but he was truly a threat when the ball found itself on the right side as he would roam into more central spaces and pockets, often being found in these pockets and becoming a direct goal threat. 7 goals and 4 assists is an impressive return.

Meister of the Season: Óscar Trejo (CAM)
Trejo at 34 was one of the most impressive creators in Spain, with his ability to press high and win the ball in the attacking half, draw fouls, beat men, take set pieces and find players with through passes was impressive. 3 goals and 9 assists shows the very real threat he poses as a 10 sat behind an accomplished finisher. Aging like fine wine.

11th - Celta Vigo

Valencia CF v RC Celta de Vigo - La Liga Santander Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Der Kaiser: Javi Galán (LB)
Celta Vigo’s defense was their strong suit, and Galán was similarly solid. He gets the nod over the others due to.. well, mostly personal bias since he is one of my favourite left backs to watch. His dribbling is up there as one of the finest in the league, and his ability to cross from deep allowed Celta Vigo’s rapid strikers to get into great positions ahead of the last line of defense. “Just” the 3 assists but getting forward and wide wasn’t something that was demanded of him in the system so it really doesn’t put a blot on his record.

Fußballgott: Denis Suárez (CM/CAM)
Suárez has had a career renaissance as of late, and this season was another step up for him. 4 goals and 6 assists as the central fulcrum of Celta Vigo’s attack is strong enough, but when you factor in the fact that he doubled as the 8 in a double pivot and contributed defensively it shows a truly classy player.

Der Bomber: Santi Mina (ST)
Rapid, great in the press, good at holding up play, great in the air, what else do you want from a striker? Santi Mina has had a strange career trajectory for a player of his calibre but it seems his stock is once again on the rise with 7 goals and 3 assists this season.

Meister of the Season: Iago Aspas (ST)
I mean, who else could it have been? 18 goals and 6 assists is nothing short of world class. He can shoot from distance, he can lay-off others, he can hold up play and play others in, he can find players in pockets with great balls over the top, he can get into dangerous positions behind defenders’ backs, you really cannot ask for more from a striker (except maybe some aerial ability but hey, you can’t have it all).

10th - CA Osasuna

CA Osasuna v RCD Mallorca - La Liga Santander Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Der Kaiser: David García (CB)
García’s technique in the tackle wasn’t the finest, but he was great at jockeying and zoning players, as well as reading the game in an accomplished manner. His passing was simple but effective, often progressing the ball comfortably. Where he really excelled was in the air. He almost never lost an aerial duel, and even won several in the other penalty box, scoring 4 with his head.

Fußballgott: Lucas Torró (CM/CDM)
It’s rare that a player not accomplished at long passing finds himself at the heart of a midfield and does well, but Torró is that player. Playing as the 6 in a midfield 3, his screening and physical presence kept out attackers time and time again. Great intercepting ability, great tackling technique, not afraid to dive into tackles and blocks, and deceptively quick off the mark.

Der Bomber: Ante Budimir (ST)
A great target man, Budimir’s 8 goals and 2 assists mark a great striker who is comfortable at the centre of attack.

Meister of the Season: Nacho Vidal (RB)
Not every full back needs to effectively be a winger, and Nacho Vidal is a perfect example of that. An accomplished defensive technique, great reading of the game and a simple passing style. He is your favourite full back’s favourite full back.

9th - Valencia CF

Valencia CF v RC Celta de Vigo - La Liga Santander Photo by Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images

Der Kaiser: Gabriel Paulista (CB)
Paulista has improved his tackling as well as his interceptions and blocks, and this defensive improvement combined with the hesitance to dive into tackles and ultra-safe clearance quota instead of trying to build from the back at all times turned him into a no-nonsense row Z centre back.

Fußballgott: Carlos Soler (CM/RM)
Playing as the more offensive player in a double pivot of the 4-4-2, Soler was ever so productive with 12 goals and 5 assists. Great through balls, goal threat, long shots as well as deceptively good hold-up play which would allow his forwards to play off of him very well.

Der Bomber: Hugo Duro (ST/LM)
Duro is still a very raw talent with some poor decision-making, but 7 goals and an assist in his first season playing consistently at a high level shows his potential to become world class in years to come.

Meister of the Season: Gonçalo Guedes (ST)
Guedes is a player that has been knocking on the glass ceiling that separates a great player from a world class player, and this season has been nothing different. In a struggling Valencia team, Guedes managed 11 goals and 6 assists, an impressive number only matched by Carlos Soler in the team. His ability to link up with and find Duro and Soler in dangerous spaces insured the de facto front three would all remain productive.

8th - Athletic Bilbao

Sevilla FC v Athletic Club - La Liga Santander Photo by Juanjo Ubeda/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Der Kaiser: Iñigo Martínez (CB)
Iñigo Martínez has been one of the most consistent defenders in Spain this decade, and this season was no different. Much improved tackling technique, great zoning ability and marking in the box.

Fußballgott: Alex Berenguer (RM)
One of the most versatile players in Spain, Berenguer found his feet as a right midfielder this season, and was successful as a marauding winger. He would track back regularly, almost acting as a right wing back at times, but would still have the engine to drive forward and become a goal threat when the ball is on the other side. His crossing was characteristically strong. 4 goals and 6 assists round out his figures for the reason.

Der Bomber: Iñaki Williams (ST)
Williams certainly hasn’t hit the same heights we’ve seen him hit in the past, but he was still strong with 8 goals and 5 assists. However, he still needs to work on his tracking back and the timing of his runs. He has a very limited playstyle, and so he would most definitely increase his production if he were to diversify his approach to games.

Meister of the Season: Iker Muniain (LM)
Muniain was simply brilliant this season. While Bilbao’s left side was weak defensively and part of it was down Muniain’s lack of tracking back, he had practically no other flaws. His crossing? Impeccable. His short passing and link-up? Always progressive. His dribbling? One of the best in the league. Add on top of that vision that is amongst the best in Europe and a penchant for free kick taking, and you have all the ingredients of a top level winger. 4 goals and 10 assists are figures that should tell you enough, but he has been even better than those figures show.

7th - Villarreal CF

Bayern München v Villarreal CF Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Der Kaiser: Pau Torres (CB)
Pau is one of my favourite centre backs to watch. Strong in the air, strong in the tackle, calm under pressure, very good with the ball at this feet both as a long passer and for safe ball progression. I am baffled as to why all the big clubs in Europe haven’t already thrown all their money at him.

Fußballgott: Etienne Capoue (CDM/CM)
Capoue has regularly impressed both in the league and especially in Europe. He is great in the tackle and even at interceptions, but his ability to progress the ball has been what has really stuck out to me. He would often sit behind the midfield line of the opposition and regularly find his midfield partner or forwards, making it look almost effortless at times. But make no mistake, he was tireless.

Der Bomber: Arnaut Danjuma (ST/LW)
Honourable mention to Gerard Moreno who is one of my favourite players in the world but unfortunately had his season cut short by nagging injuries. Danjuma in his first season playing consistently in a top flight impressed thoroughly. 10 goals and 3 assists in 23 games is a return any former Championship player would be proud of.

Meister of the Season: Dani Parejo (CM)
Parejo has been in the conversation for the best midfielder in Spain for quite a few years, first at Valencia and now at Villarreal. His ability to shoot from distance and take set pieces has been key to Villarreal’s goal threat, but where he truly excels is his vision for killer balls. 2 goals and 10 assists are elite figures for a central midfielder in a 4-4-2.

What do you think of these awards? Are there any choices you would have made differently? Let us know in the comments below.

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