Here is the second part of my La Liga Team of the Season 2012/2013, focusing on the midfield and attack. An immensely difficult area to choose from, but I thought certain players stood out as mentioned in their respective placings. The first part if you missed it is here.
CM Ander Herrera
At 23-years-old Ander Herrera has taken it upon himself to be a leader, in the dressing room and on the field. Few players command such authority and respect at this young age, while his authority is clear to see. Watching Ander is enthralling; his ability to talk to teammates, motivate them and strive for the best. As a player he rarely makes a poor decision as he moves between defence and attack, shifting the gears for his time with intelligent, neat passing. The enthusiasm and positivity he exudes knows no bounds and its only a matter of time before trophies come his way.
(Koke, Gabi, Vicente Iborra)
CM Asier Illarramendi
If the Basque Country is blessed with a leader in Ander, then it has also given birth to a one man engine room in Asier Illarramendi. The Real Sociedad youngster is decisive in his midfield movements, and possesses the energy to operate in both defensive and attacking phases of midfield. He’s vital over the transition shifting the all into key areas, seeking out the attacking prongs at la Real. Illarra can mix it up when required, putting his foot in and regaining possession but also sweeping a 30 yard cross field ball to engineer an attack. He’s less poise and more purpose, making him a unique quantity for Spain in the future.
(Javi Fuego, Éver Banega, Geoffrey Kondogbia)
CM Ivan Rakitic
The story of the summer was about one Croatian and his move to Spain, but it was one who moved before him that impressed most this season. Ivan Rakitic had the best season of his career in 20122013 as he proved to be at times, the entire Sevilla midfield. With Piotr Trochowski being put down by a season ending injury it was up to Rakitic to step up. The 26-year-odl hasn’t disappointed and along with Jesús Navas has been the most creative feature of this team. His 12 assists are the most outside of Barcelona and Real Madrid, while his general work rate during games has been incredible. Rakitic’s vision is excellent on the field, picking out teammates and stretching play while also making smart forward runs himself.
(Joan Verdú, Roberto Trashorras, Óscar)
Rayo Vallecano can’t recover from losing Michu and his goals can they? That was the question when Swansea purchased the revelation of last season’s campaign, but the answer was already at the club. Piti, at 31-years-old, has no doubt been the surprise package of the season. He was mainly situated out on the left wing, and handed the license to drift inside when appropriate. The freedom of Paco Jémez’s system allowed Piti and Leo Baptistao to exchange roles and duties, with both taking turns to drop off but also dart into the box unannounced – just like Michu. It was Piti who proved the be the star of the system however, having the ability to unleash long range shots and poach from inside the area. His work rate, speed and taking up of dangerous positions was unrivaled, and this meant he ended the season with a remarkable 18 goals.
(Dorlan Pabon, Antoine Griezmann, Gio Dos Santos)
CF Rubén Castro
So, why Rubén Castro over the likes of Falcao, Roberto Soldado and Álvaro Negredo. The primary reason is the responsibility and workload Castro takes on, no other striker is quite as vital to their team as he is. Castro at 31-years-old has had something of a renaissance in his football career. A journeyman of sorts in Spain, he’s found himself a home at Betis where he is appreciated and can e the focal point of a team. To quote Rhianna, he found love in a hopeless place. Betis was a hopeless place when he arrived; relegated, in need of a star, in need of an idol. Castro’s efforts have been huge as he lifts the whole team, using his incredible movement to split defences apart. Few move more intelligently, with such purpose behind their running. When he does find himself in a goal scoring position he rarely misses too, harnessing the ability to finishing in a variety of manners in and around the penalty area. He’s the benchmark striker, and every child in Spain who wishes to be a number 9 should watch him as part of their football education. 3088 minutes, 34 games and the conclusion is 18 goals…and a whole lot of fed up centre backs.
(Iago Aspas, Leo Baptistao, Sergio García, Imanol Agirretxe)
RW Patrick Ebert
Real Valladolid deserves an award alone for taking a chance on Patrick Ebert. Ravaged by discipline and injury troubles in his native Germany, the decision to move to Spain and newly promoted Valladolid was a smart one by the attacking midfielder. This season he’s offered up some of the most enthusiastic, vital performances by any one single player. Ebert’s been a vital tactical cog for Valladolid, bursting through the centre of midfield from his right side and balancing linking the attack but also carrying the ball on his own. Ebert’s got a ferocious shot, ability to pick out a decisive pass across 20-30 yards and is capable of turning a game on his own. Late in the game he can find the energy to bustle through a defence and break the deadlock, explaining why he’s scored so many late and vital goals. Injuries are all that holds Ebert back, as he posses all the technical ability to be a star in La Liga.
(Carlos Vela, Diego Costa, Jesús Navas)