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The 2022/23 Season Awards: La Liga

It was a strange year for Spain.

FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad - LaLiga Santander Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

What was Spanish football this season? It was such a strange campaign for the country that I can’t really put a finger on it. FC Barcelona won the league dominantly but could not even get out of their Champions League group, and Real Madrid struggled in the league but managed to reach the Champions League semi-finals. Sevilla and Atlético Madrid both were essentially mid-table to relegation candidate clubs during the first half of the season only to completely turn it around after January. There is so little separating teams because of their completely opposing forms across periods of time and competitions. Let’s try and split them anyway.

Tom Starke Award: Best Goalkeeper

RC Celta v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

The closest names to this award were Cádiz’s Jeremías Ledesma and Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois but in the end the award must go to FC Barcelona’s Marc-André ter Stegen!

The German shot-stopper was simply a wall for Barcelona, being perhaps the most key component in the Spanish champions conceding just twenty goals in the campaign. Ter Stegen may well make himself the first option for Germany at the 2024 European Championships if this form continues.

Dante Award: Best Defender

Real Madrid CF v Athletic Club - LaLiga Santander Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

This is perhaps the most drab of all of them as no defender is really deserving of this award, but the best of the bunch was previous winner, Real Madrid’s Éder Militão!

Other nominations include Jules Koundé who was the league’s best right back and Javi Galán who continues his upward trajectory as one of the best left backs in Spain, but come on lads. Step up the defense. Militão was the best centre-back in the league, mostly spurred by a rich vein of form at the start of the season. Another honourable mention is Mario Hermoso, who was the front-runner for this award after his inspiration of Atlético Madrid’s defensive renaissance but who fell off a cliff in terms of form towards the end of the season.

Xabi Alonso Award: Best Midfielder

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Amongst the race were Frenkie de Jong, Toni Kroos and previous winner Mikel Merino, but the winner of the Tom Starke award is Pedri!

Pedri is one of the best midfielders in the world. While defensively he is... well barely there, Pedri’s qualities in build-up and attack have been simply enormous. Pedri is amongst the best in the world at progressing the ball, both through dribbling and passing. Pedri’s ability to spot players from deep is fantastic, and I can see why he draws comparison to his current manager Xavi.

Do not ever tell me Gavi is anywhere near Iniesta however. That is an insult to Iniesta’s legacy.

Franck Ribéry Award: Best Attacker

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema was closest to winning the award, but due to the fact that he was absent for large parts of the season I could not give it to him. Vinícius Júnior was close too, but our eventual winner was better. Winner of the Franck Ribéry award is fellow Bayern Munich alumnus Robert Lewandowski!

The Polish hitman netted a league-high 23 times and assisted a further 7 times in his 34 appearances, a great return for a league that is generally very low-scoring. Lewandowski’s hold up and link up play was world class as per, and of course his finishing is second to none. Even in a season that has overall been part of the downward trend in Lewandowski’s quality of play since 2021, he is still one of the best strikers in the world.

La Cyler d’Or: Spain’s Player of the Year

Atletico de Madrid v Cadiz CF - LaLiga Santander Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

The best player in Spain, and one of the most heartwarming stories in recent football is Atlético Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann!

The French striker returned to the club in which he enjoyed his prime years, Antoine Griezmann returned to that form. Griezmann’s role is familiar to those of you who have watched Manchester City in recent weeks in the form of Kevin De Bruyne (although Griezmann did it first). Playing as the 10 in possession sat behind the striker, Griezmann conducts play with his fantastic ability to drift in pockets and cause havoc. However, off the ball, Griezmann is perhaps the most hard-working player on the pitch, leading the press while the striker drops off or joins him to form a 4-4-2 shape. The Frenchman has found great success, and has matched his ridiculous work rate with some ridiculous productivity, his 15 goals and 16 assists forming a league-high 31 goal contributions, one for every start he’s had. What a player. What a story. You can never come home again, or can you?

What do you think of our picks? Is there anyone you would have picked instead? Let us know in the discussion below.

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