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miércoles, 18 de mayo de 2016

Luis Suarez was the star, Cristiano Ronaldo finished second again and Gary Neville was a disaster at Valencia


  • Sportsmail look back at the 2014-15 La Liga season in Spain
  • Barcelona beat Real Madrid to the title by just a single point
  • Luis Suarez was the star of the show scoring 40 goals in 35 games
  • Title race went down to the wire between Barca, Real and Atletico Madri
  • It's been another thrilling season of action in Spain as Barcelona pipped Real Madrid to the league title by only a point last weekend.
Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick against Granada to seal a second title in two seasons for Luis Enrique, with the Uruguayan taking his goal tally to 40.
Sportsmail look back at a season which saw records broken and Gary Neville's unlikely first steps into management... 
 
Luis Suarez scored 40 goals in only 35 appearances in La Liga for Barcelona this season
Luis Suarez scored 40 goals in only 35 appearances in La Liga for Barcelona this season
French star Antoine Griezmann has also impressed for Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid this season
French star Antoine Griezmann has also impressed for Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid this season
Best player - Luis Suarez
Step aside Messi, step aside Ronaldo. It was Suarez’ season. It wasn’t so much the 40 goals in 35 games in the league – more that when he was most needed he delivered with 14 goals in those last five nervous matches. 
Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann runner-up

Worst possible first job in management - Gary Nevilla at Valencia
In her column for El Mundo, journalist Inma Lidon referred to Gary Neville as ‘the intern’ and there were times at Valencia when it felt as if Neville was on a rather disastrous four-month work experience. 
Saddled with a poorly assembled squad, high expectations and some pretty ropey luck he underachieved and being business partners with the owner did not save him from the sack. 
Gary Neville struggled in Spain as he traded Sky Sports punditry for the Valencia managerial hotseat
Gary Neville struggled in Spain as he traded Sky Sports punditry for the Valencia managerial hotseat
No doubt he will be able to look back and laugh at some point in the future even at the way angry supporters sang ‘Gary go now’ in Spanish at one training ground confrontation and then stopped to ask: ‘Does anyone know how to sing this in English?’
Most disappointing big signings – Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal
They were supposed to be the cavalry charging over the hill at the halfway point of the season to give Luis Enrique fabulous new options. 
Instead when they appeared on the horizon they had no horses, they had forgotten their swords and their helmets were on back to front. Who knows what will happen next season. 
Maybe with a full season (They could only play from January because of Barça’s Fifa ban on registering players) they can regain the form that made Barça sign them.
Lucas Vazquez (right) has come come from nowhere to make the cut for Spain's Euro 2016 squad
Lucas Vazquez (right) has come come from nowhere to make the cut for Spain's Euro 2016 squad
Best young player – Lucas Vazquez
From nowhere to the Spain Euro 2016 squad. The 24-year-old Real Madrid winger is like a Pedro mark II. 
He has the same burst of pace and eye for goal as the former Barcelona forward. Rafa Benitez picked him ahead of Isco and James Rodriguez and was admonished for it. 
Zinedine Zidane came in and has ended up doing exactly the same.
The Spanish Leicester
There wasn’t one really but Eibar fought the good fight. They were only in the top flight because Elche were relegated in their place in the previous season because of financial irregularities. 
But the club with a 6,300-capacity stadium made the most of its top flight status and despite having to incorporate 14 new signings at the start of the season actually flirted with a European place early on before settling for safety.
Gareth Bale scored four goals as Real Madrid thrashed Rayo Vallecano 10-2 back in December
Gareth Bale scored four goals as Real Madrid thrashed Rayo Vallecano 10-2 back in December
Strangest game – Real Madrid 10-2 Rayo Vallecano
Rayo Vallecano actually started the better of the two sides and took a 2-1 lead on 12 minutes provoking whistles from the Bernabeu in this game last December. 
They then had two players sent off and Real rattled in nine goals with Gareth Bale scoring four. 
Rayo boss Paco Jemez tore into the referee post-match overlooking the indiscipline of his own team - something that would eventually contribute to their relegation. Oh and Rafa Benitez was sacked two games later.
Fernando Torres has turned back the clock during his second spell at Atletico Madrid under Simeone
Fernando Torres has turned back the clock during his second spell at Atletico Madrid under Simeone
Best comeback – Fernando Torres
No one has turned the clock back this effectively since Benjamin Button. Fernando Torres has even started to look like the fresh-faced Liverpool striker skipping away from Premier League central defenders every weekend. 
His goals at the end of the season so nearly kept Atletico in the hunt for the title until the last game.
Most popular great escape - Sporting Gijon
Sporting Gijon is a Spanish footballing institution and most neutrals wanted them to survive on the last day. In fact even some of those who should have been trying to send them down wanted them to survive too. 
Villarreal manager Marcelino said he hoped they stayed up. Nothing wrong with that apart from the fact that Villarreal were playing Sporting and if Getafe and Rayo were going to survive they needed Villarreal to take something from Sporting. 
It finished 2-0 to Sporting and Gijon-born Marcelino admitted post-match ‘maybe I was a little too sincere with my pre-match comments’.
Ronaldo has now scored 260 La Liga goals since moving to Real Madrid in 2009 but has won the title only once
Ronaldo has now scored 260 La Liga goals since moving to Real Madrid in 2009 but has won the title only once
Best runner-up - Cristiano Ronaldo
Only one player scored more goals than Cristiano Ronaldo (35). No one had more shots on goal (224) and yet once again he ended up without a league title. 
He has now scored 260 goals since his 2009 arrival and only won La Liga once, in 2009. No wonder he lamented in one very frank post-match interview: ‘If we were all at my level, we’d be top’.
Best quote
Precisely as he knew another League title was slipping away Ronaldo took aim at the friendship between Leo Messi, Suarez and Neymar. 
‘All this business with the little dinners and the little hugs and kisses doesn’t matter. That matters is how you perform on the pitch’. 
He was right of course Messi, Suarez and Neymar also topped the assists for the season table with 15,15 and 13 respectively. And they won the league.
Lionel Messi set up Suarez from the penalty spot during Barcelona's 6-1 win over Celta Vigo in February
Lionel Messi set up Suarez from the penalty spot during Barcelona's 6-1 win over Celta Vigo in February
Best goal
For its sheer invention and audacity that penalty that Messi passed to Suarez in in a 6-1 win over Celta Vigo in February. 
Some said it was disrespectful. 
Others said it was the ultimate homage to Johan Cruyff who scored a similar goal for Ajax and his playing days, and who died the following month leaving the whole of Spanish football mourning his passing and enjoying the endless stream of old clips of his brilliance.

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