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Barcelona's amazing Argentine and Real Madrid's prolific Portuguese are among the stars in the running to win our end-of-season award


The league season is over in Spain. The Primera Division concluded at the weekend, with Real Madrid proclaimed champions with a record 100 points in 2011-12. A well-earned break now awaits this summer, before another exciting campaign begins later this year.

So with the league finally over, it is time to take a look at the season's best players. As the table suggests, two teams have dominated La Liga above all others, although one or two rebel sides have managed to curb their control along the way.

Here, profiles the outstanding candidates for the honour of being named the 2011-12 Primera Division Player of the Season in our end-of-term awards.

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La Liga 33 24 5 4

Radamel Falcao arrived amid much fanfare in the summer and plenty of expectation, too. The Colombian striker was linked with several of Europe's top clubs after leading Porto to Europa League glory in 2010-11, but he eventually moved to Atletico Madrid for €40 million as an expensive replacement for Sergio Aguero.

Adrian Boullosa, Spain

In a league dominated by Real Madrid and Barcelona, Falcao stood out from the crowd and scored half of Atletico's league goals in 2011-12. El Tigre roared for Simeone's side this term. Now they will hope for him to stay.
But following a slow start at the Vicente Calderon, Falcao has exceeded expectations and confined the names of Aguero and Diego Forlan to the past.

The Colombian claimed he had come to win titles and remained true to his word as he led Atletico to the Europa League crown, finishing as top scorer in the continental competition for the second season in a row and hitting two superb strikes in the final against Athletic Bilbao last week.

His league form was equally impressive and the former Porto man almost managed to fire his side into next season's Champions League as he struck the winner on the last day to give Atletico a narrow win at Villarreal, with the Yellow Submarine condemned to relegation on Sunday.

Atletico finished fifth as Malaga claimed the final Champions League spot, so it now remains to be seen whether the capital club can hold on to Falcao. That is likely to depend on finances, but with times changing under Diego Simeone, the Colombian looks keen to stay and seek a unique Europa League hat-trick, although the principal objective will be to return Atleti to Europe's premier club competition.

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La Liga 37 50 15 16

Lionel Messi was left disappointed as Real Madrid captured La Liga and Pep Guardiola decided to leave this summer, but on a personal level the Argentine hit astonishing heights in 2011-12.

With the final of the Copa del Rey still to come, Messi has already struck 72 goals so far including an incredible 50 in La Liga to set a new Pichichi record as he finished four clear of Real rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the Primera Division.

Adrian Boullosa, Spain

Messi has now scored more goals than any other player in a single European season, is Barcelona's all-time leading marksman and set an incredible new Pichichi record too in 2011-12. It has been another astonishing campaign for the Argentine.
The Argentine has been key for Barca this season as the Catalans claimed the Uefa Super Cup, the Spanish Supercopa and the Club World Cup before missing out on La Liga and the Champions League later on in the campaign.

He cut a frustrated figure as Barca lost to Madrid at Camp Nou and was unable to provide the inspiration as Guardiola's side went down to Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

At times this season and particularly in those matches against elite European sides, Barca have relied too heavily on Messi and the 24-year-old has lacked the sufficient support in the absence of injured striker David Villa.

Nevertheless, 2011-12 has been a sensational season and Messi, who amassed 19 more goals than the 53 he managed in 2010-11 to become the all-time top scorer in a single European campaign, surpassing the 67 netted by Bayern Munich and Germany legend Gerd Muller in 1972-73. And he still has the chance to end this term with yet another trophy as Barca meet Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey later this month.

Real Madrid
MESUT OZIL | Midfielder
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La Liga 35 4 17 7

Mesut Ozil struck twice in Sunday's 4-1 win over Mallorca to take his Liga goal tally for the season to a mere four strikes. Despite that relatively low return, the German has played a pivotal part in Real Madrid's title triumph in 2011-12.

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Mesut got off to a slow start at Madrid this season and it looked as if he may play a bit-part role as Angel Di Maria shone and Kaka featured more prominently. But the German showed his compatibility with the Brazilian and ended up playing a starring role as Mourinho's men claimed La Liga.

Having claimed an incredible 20 Liga assists in his debut campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu, Ozil set up 17 goals for Madrid in the Primera Division this term, including Cristiano Ronaldo's all-important winner in the Camp Nou Clasico against Barcelona last month.

For the second season running, the former Werder Bremen playmaker topped La Liga's assist charts and now he will look to show his worth for his country as Germany head to Euro 2012 as one of the big favourites to claim the continental trophy this summer.

Many in Germany believe Ozil is restricted at Real by Mourinho's tactics, but fans at the Bernabeu idolise the German and are happy just as long as he is in the starting XI - be in on the left, on the right or in the centre.

Still only 23, Ozil has a big part to play in the future of this side. And he is likely to get better and better.

Real Madrid
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La Liga 38 46 11 16

This season has been without doubt the most memorable campaign in the career of Cristiano Ronaldo. Under Jose Mourinho, the Madeira-born forward was at his most lethal, and he also showed a more committed and generous side to his game. Ronaldo has been Madrid's key player in their Liga triumph, with deadly finishing, tireless work-rate and the ultimate in competitiveness.

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Cristiano Ronaldo symbolises Real's relationship with the goal. The Portuguese has put teams to the sword in La Liga with his fantastic finishing this season and shown an insatiable appetite in front of goal. The team's Liga goals record this season is proof of that as Ronaldo scored over a third of Madrid's 121 Primera Division strikes in 2011-12.
Ronaldo's intriguing duel with Lionel Messi has continued in 2011-12, with both players improving on their incredible numbers from the previous season. But while the Argentine has hit more goals in La Liga (50) and overall (72) than the Portuguese (46 and 60), it is the 27-year-old who had the last laugh in the Primera Division.

Ronaldo netted the winner as Madrid took a giant leap towards the title with a win at Camp Nou in the Clasico in April and set a new record by scoring against every single one of his side's 19 rivals throughout the course of the campaign.

He also struck 10 Champions League goals, including two in the semi-final second leg against Bayern Munich, although that double was ultimately insufficient as Mourinho's men fell short and lost out to the Germans in a penalty shoot-out in which the Portuguese saw his spot-kick saved by Manuel Neuer.

Ronaldo is likely to challenge Messi for the next Ballon d'Or and will have another chance to showcase his talents this summer with Portugal at Euro 2012, before linking up again with Real Madrid in their quest for another Liga title and the elusive Decima in Mourinho's third season at the Santiago Bernabeu.