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Bish's Briefs - La Liga Review of the year

Published: 30 Dec 2009 - 11:00:37

Andy Bishop looks back on those that have had a year to remember.

Team Of The Year - Barcelona

Only one contender for this. Champions League winners, La Liga winners, Copa del Rey winners, Spanish Super Cup winners, UEFA Super Cup Winners, FIFA Club World Cup winners.

Six competitions entered, six competitions won and all playing an exhilarating brand of football as good as any seen in the modern era.

Player of the Year - Lionel Messi

Ballon D'Or winner and FIFA World Player of the Year. 38 goals in 54 games for Barcelona in the calendar year including strikes in the Copa del Rey Final, the Spanish Super Cup and winning goals in the FIFA Club World Cup Final and the Champions League Final.

Add in the amount of goals he made for others and the way how he integrates his phenomenal individual talents in a way that brings the best out of not just himself but also his team-mates and he is the world's best for 2009 - by a distance.

Not everyone wanted Argentina at the World Cup but the biggest stage needs this diminutive genius.

Game of the Year - Atletico Madrid 4 Barcelona 3

Think back to that classic Liverpool v Newcastle game at Anfield all those years ago. That game had virtually everything and so did this one.

Mesmeric goals by Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry & Diego Forlan left the Catalans 2-1 up at half-time. Sergio Aguero soon drew Atletico level before Henry restored Barca's lead.

Cue disallowed goals, penalties that should have been but weren't, an equaliser from the spot by Forlan, and, of course, that dramatic last-minute winner by Aguero.

Newcastle never bounced back from their similar defeat in 1996 - Barca went on to win the lot.

Unsung Hero of the Year - Gonzalo Higuain

For all the money spent at Real Madrid in the summer they have not done a better piece of business in recent years then snapping up this workhorse Argentine for a shade over £9m in 2007.

22 goals in 34 La Liga games in 2008-09 showed what he was capable of and despite being forced to the sidelines as a new 'Galatico' era began - he started just two of Real's first eight League games this season - he has fought his way back into the side, proving himself to be indispensibale in the process, ending the year with seven goals in his last seven games.

It was alsio the year that Diego Maradona recognised his talents and finally called him up to the Argentine squad after he had knocked back the advances of France - he repaid Maradona with a priceless goal on his debut in the 2-1 win v Peru in Bueno Aires that set them on their way to finally securing their place at the World Cup.

How Are You Not Playing In the Champions League Award - David Villa

Quite possibly the hottest striker in the world in 2009. 43 goals in 55 apps for club and country in all competitions - currently leading the Pichichi at the turn of the year and the first man to score for Spain in six successive internationals.

Could of joined Barcelona in the summer, rumoured to have cried when the move fell through as Valencia somehow held onto him. Where he could end up next season is anybody's guess but one thing is for sure.

He has to be playing in the Champions League.

Nothing Ever Changes Award - Atletico Madrid

Is there a club that so regularly underachieves in world football then Atletico?! They have the European Golden Boot winner in Diego Forlan, Argentine wonder-kid Sergio Aguero, a midfield littered with talent and made the Champions League through finishing 4th in 2008-09.

A platform to build on you would think. Perhaps not. How about finishing bottom of their Champions League group, finding themselves in La Liga's relegation zone at the start of November and Abel Resino losing his job?

What Else Can We Do Award - Sevilla

Manolo Jiminez has built a superb side at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Except they are unlikely to be rewarded as they deserve due to the fact that his side have to battle Barcelona and Real Madrid every season, clubs with far greater wealth and support behind them.

We Can't Wait To See More of You in 2010 Award - Iker Muniain

One of Spain's proudest clubs have a star on their hands. Some have likened him to our very own Wayne Rooney, some have likened his dribbling skills to Lionel Messi. Some praise.

He became the club's youngest scorer in August at the age of 16 when he scored in the Europa League v Young Boys and scored a great solo goal in their defeat v Valencia in November.

Short, stocky, great touch, clinical finishing and an impressive work-rate, 2010 could be quite a year for Iker Muniain. Also look out for Barcelona's Pedro whose progress is reflected by him scoring in six separate competitions for his club the season.

READ BISH'S BRIEFS EXCLUSIVELY AT FOOTBALL.CO.UK EVERY TUESDAY

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:andy bishop
Having worked in radio, newspapers, magazines, internet and television I hope to now bring my passion for the game to your computer screens with analysis, comment and tongue-in-cheek humour on all things global in the world of football - from Barcelona to Boca and from Blatter to Berlusconi...enjoy!

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