We choose the best XI from the Spanish top-flight campaign that came to a conclusion on Sunday, with Real Madrid claiming the title with a record 100 pointsReal Madrid were crowned champions of Spain on Sunday with a record 100 points, nine clear of fierce rivals Barcelona as coach Pep Guardiola bade a fond farewell to La Liga. And with the campaign concluded, Goal.com looks at the cream of the crop from the Primera Division in 2011-12.
Madrid actually conceded three goals more than Barca but Iker Casillas was key once again with a string of vital saves, including one brilliant dive to his right to deny Xavi in the crucial Clasico win at Camp Nou last month and a wonderful reaction stop from Manu del Moral at Sevilla earlier this season. Casillas led by example as Madrid captain and stood tall when it mattered most.
Surprisingly out of the team on occasions, criticised and tipped with a summer exit from Camp Nou, there is still nobody in the game quite like Dani Alves. The Brazilian may not have had his best season for Barca, but still managed an impressive 11 assists and as Guardiola says, he is irreplaceable.
Sergio Ramos a right-back? Never, never, never. That was Marca's assessment of the Spain defender following a disappointing display from the Seville-born star in pre-season. It seemed harsh, given that not only had Ramos made the position his own at Madrid but become a European and world champion there with Spain, but this season he has been moved inside by coach Jose Mourinho and his seamless switch to central defence was a huge part of Madrid's success this term.
Unfortunately for Barcelona, Carles Puyol cannot go on forever. The Catalans' captain recovered from a knee operation to enjoy one of his finest campaigns in the heart of the Barca defence. When he is absent, his commitment and leadership skills are sorely missed and that is a problem Spain must now overcome in Euro 2012 after the defender ended the campaign with another injury which is set to rule him out of the continental competition. He also scored three times for the Blaugrana in 2011-12, his highest tally in a league campaign.
Barca will look to strengthen their defence this summer and one man heavily linked is Valencia's Jordi Alba. The left-back came through the youth system at La Masia and has been in fine form at Mestalla this term, making the step up to the national team to become La Roja's first choice on the left. He was a key member of the Valencia side that finished third for a third consecutive season. But don't expect him to be around for a fourth.
Xavi is 32 and faded somewhat towards the end of the campaign, but he remains the best there is and his numbers from 2011-12 are the best in his whole career. The Spain midfielder reached double figures in goals and like Puyol, he is not ready to call it a day just yet. Why should he?
Xavi is likely to be joined in Poland and Ukraine this summer by Malaga's Santi Cazorla. The popular midfielder was badly missed by Villarreal as the Yellow Submarine were relegated from La Liga, but inspired the Andalusians to their best-ever finish as Manuel Pellegrini's men secured fourth place. Cazorla scored nine and played his part in numerous other goals, as the creative fulcrum at La Rosaleda.
Mesut Ozil still doesn't score enough and is sometimes restricted when playing in a wide role, but the German has a wonderful knack of setting up goals and added 17 assists in his second season at the Santiago Bernabeu, including one for Cristiano Ronaldo's winner in the Clasico last month, which all but sealed the title for Mourinho's men.
It was a wonderful campaign for Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao. Lauded last week for his Europa League heroics, the Colombian striker also impressed in La Liga as he hit 24 Primera Division goals in a stunning season. Atletico, however, just missed out on the Champions League and the club have already admitted it may be difficult to keep their prized player at the Vicente Calderon next term. Should he leave Spain, La Liga will lose out.
Lionel Messi continued to smash records everywhere in 2011-12 - and it was no different in the Primera Division. The Argentine became Barca's all-time highest goalscorer this term and also set a new record for goals in a European season wih 72 (and one game to play as Barca meet Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final later this month). And in La Liga, he raised the bar again by establishing an incredible Pichichi mark of 50 goals in a single season. Sensational.
Only four goals behind Messi in La Liga was Cristiano Ronaldo, who had the last laugh as Madrid claimed the title for the first time since 2008. The Portuguese played a pivotal part in the success for Mourinho's men this term and his winner at Camp Nou last month guaranteed the league would be heading back to the capital.
| Conceded: 32
|TOTW Apps: 1
|DANI ALVES||SERGIO RAMOS||PUYOL||JORDI ALBA
|Goals/Assists: 1/11||Goals/Assists: 3/5||Goals/Assists: 3/0||Goals/Assists: 2/5|
|TOTW Apps: 2||TOTW Apps: 5||TOTW Apps: 6
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|Goals/Assists: 4/17||Goals/Assists: 10/7||Goals/Assists: 9/5|
|TOTW Apps: 7
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| Goals/Assists: 50/15
|TOTW Apps: 16||TOTW Apps: 4
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