In LaLigaNews’ latest end of season awards series, we outline our Team of the Season to play under Manager of the Season Quique Setien.
First up is the formation. 2017/18 has been an incredible season tactically, with 4-4-2 making an unexpected return at the expense of attacking tridents. It’s caused Zinedine Zidane a selection headache but there can be no doubting that it is the in fashion formation in Spain, being the preferred tactic of all sides in the top four.
Goalkeeper : Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
The winner of the Zamora trophy yet again, it is remarkable to think that he kept as many clean sheets (22) as goals he conceded. It’s about time that he is thought of as more than just the best goalkeeper in LaLiga, but the best goalkeeper in the world.
Right-back: Pablo Maffeo (Girona FC)
Narrowly pipping Alvaro Odriozola to this spot, Manchester City loanee Maffeo will be best remembered for his incredible performance man marking Lionel Messi in a Catalan derby. He was key to a Girona side which stunned LaLiga and has already moved on to German side Stuttgart for next season.
Centre-back: Marc Bartra (Real Betis)
He may only have joined LaLiga mid-season, but Bartra turned Real Betis’ campaign around. Quique Setien’s side had plenty of potential but were too defensively weak to hold on to results, until Bartra arrived and led the team on a record-breaking run of clean sheets with 9 from 16 games in LaLiga.
Centre-back: Samuel Umtiti (FC Barcelona)
Highly thought of by many before the start of this season, Umtiti came into his own in 2017/18. Rapidly, he became Barcelona’s most reliable defender as Gerard Pique struggled with injury and form with his strength and pace at the back was crucial. His performances dipped towards the end of the campaign, but this was the year in which Umtiti announced himself at an elite level.
Left-back: Jordi Alba (FC Barcelona)
The 2016/17 campaign was a frustrating year for the full-back, but under Ernesto Valverde this season he has enjoyed the best form of his career, scoring three goals and assisting 12 to produce his best ever return whilst also improving defensively too.
Right midfield: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
His woeful start to the season nearly cost him his place in this side, but few can argue with Cristiano’s goalscoring return as he ended the season by netting in each of his last 10 league games of the campaign.
Central midfield: Geoffrey Kondogbia (Valencia CF)
The lynchpin in Marcelino’s midfield, Inter Milan couldn’t wait to get rid of him but it speaks volumes that Valencia’s first piece of summer business was to make his loan move permanent. He was commanding in the middle of the park and you could count on one hand the number of times he lost a battle.
Central midfield: Ivan Rakitic (FC Barcelona)
An unsung hero in Barcelona’s team for some time, he was almost discarded by Luis Enrique in his final campaign. Under Ernesto Valverde, he’s returned to being the fulcrum of his team, dictating play from deep and even covering for Sergio Busquets in a double pivot.
Left midfield: Goncalo Guedes (Valencia CF)
A sensation on loan from PSG, it’s clear to see why Valencia are desperate to keep him on a permanent deal this summer. The 21-year-old scored six and produced 11 assists, bringing back excitement to Mestalla in a way that few have managed to do since the club’s golden era with the likes of David Villa and David Silva in the side.
Striker: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
LaLigaNews’ player of the year and arguably the best player of all time, Lionel Messi won the Golden Boot despite having a heat map more reminiscent of a midfielder. He only missed two LaLiga games this season, and it was no coincidence that one was the sole defeat of the campaign at Levante.
Striker: Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo)
The top scoring Spaniard in LaLiga has been fundamental to Celta this season. With him in the team, they’ve looked an entirely different outfit and his return of 23 goals in 34 games is worthy of a spot in this side and puts him into contention to enter into Spain’s starting line-up for the World Cup this summer.
Others deserving of an honourable mention and spot on the substitute’s bench: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (FC Barcelona, Alvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad), Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Joaquin Sanchez (Real Betis), Pione Sisto (Celta Vigo), Rodrigo Moreno (Valencia), Gerard Moreno (RCD Espanyol).