Hello guys, we are continuing the team of year we started last week. We have published our Ligue 1, Bundesliga and Serie A teams; it is time for us to move to Spain. LaLiga has provided us with excitement at the top of the table; neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona seem quite capable of taking control at the top till the break. Is it the competitive level of the league or these two giants have dropped a level? As usual, I didn’t come up with this team alone; a seasoned sports event consultant and pundit on Radio and Television – Adeyemi Adesanya is the brain behind all of it. You can follow him on Twitter @yemiTM442.
Our LaLiga team is set up in a 4-3-3 system.
Goalkeeper – Thibaut Courtois. Real Madrid goalkeeper has turned around his season after a shaky start. The Belgian goaltender has kept 12 clean sheets in 24 league appearances this season. With a save percentage (74.2%), the 27-year-old is in contention for the Zamora trophy in Spain. His improvement and confidence in goal has rubbed off on his team, it is unbelievable that Real Madrid has conceded the least goals in the Spanish top flight this season. Thibaut takes the nod ahead of worthy rivals like Jan Oblak and Marc-André ter Stegen
Full Back, Left – Pervis Estupiñán. Watford loanee, Estupiñán is enjoying his loan spell in Spain with LaLiga new boys Osasuna. The Peru international has made the left back position his own under Jagoba Arrasate. His constant runs up and down the left flank has helped Los Rojillos to 11th. He has played 2,337 minutes registering a goal and three assists from his position.
Full Back, Right – Damián Suárez. The experienced full back is having another good campaign just like his team – Getafe. The right back is one of José Bordalás trusted soldiers and he has flourished under the command of his boss. A regular feature in the team’s line up, Suárez has featured 25 times in all competitions this season laying on four goals for his teammates and chipping in one. His work rate and reliability make him asset to his team.
Defense, Left Centre – Raphaël Varane. Cool, calm and calculated – those are some of the characteristics of the French World Cup winner who plays an important role for Real Madrid at the back. The maturity he displays on the pitch helps in covering some of the lapses of his defensive partner and club captain Sergio Ramos. Varane is enjoying his football again under Zidane and the defensive numbers at Real Madrid indicates this.
Defense, Right Centre – Felipe. The 30-year-old Brazilian is called Atletico Madrid’s iron man thanks to his fitness – he has never suffered an injury but that’s not the reason for making this team. The former Porto defense marshal has worked his way into becoming an important for Diego Simeone and is increasingly becoming the player to fill Diego Godin’s shoes. If you can compete and defend like prime Godin, you are definitely deserving of a place in our team.
Left Central Midfield – Martin Ødegaard. The 21-year-old attacking midfielder was unplayable in the first half of the league season then he went through a lean patch but like every quality player – class is permanent. Martin was gradually returning to his best before LaLiga suspension. Every good thing Real Sociedad have done in attack has Martin in it. It is impossible to leave him out of this team.
Right Central Midfield – Thomas Partey. After several years on learning the ropes under Gabi and co, Thomas Partey has come into his own in the Atleti side. The Ghanaian international has featured in 24 league matches for Los Rojiblancos but his versatility in the middle of the park and huge intensity makes him a stellar candidate to play alongside Ødegaard, providing the Norwegian with cover that allows his control the game as he desires.
Holding Midfield – Federico Valverde. Many of his coaches have rated him highly over the years but what is most intriguing about this Uruguayan is the self-belief to wrestle legendary Luka Modric and Toni Kroos for a starting role in Real Madrid’s midfield. He is another versatile midfield with excellent technique, pace and work rate. These are the added qualities he brought into Real Madrid’s aging midfield and Zidane has allowed him flourish. Fede has outshone the likes of Frenkie De Jong to pick the final spot in midfield.
Left Attack – Lionel Messi. The 32-year-old Barcelona captain is the current Ballon d’or winner and best player in Spain. His contribution to his team is unparalleled and the Argentine skipper rarely fails to carry his team when it matters. 19 league goals and 12 assists does not paint the appropriate picture of Messi’s contribution to Barcelona. Leo is magical and every team needs a magician so he has to be here.
Right Attack – Lucas Pérez. The Spanish-born striker is yet to hit the heights of 2015-16 where he scored 17 goals in 37 appearances to catch the interest in Arsene Wenger but he is having a steady campaign with Deportivo Alavés. Lucas plays an important role in Asier Garitano’s team and he carries a huge esponsibility of scoring goals as well as creating in attack. His technical abilities make him a difficult rival for opposing defense in the league. These are some of the qualities needed in a technical league like LaLiga.
Centre Forward – Karim Benzema. Striker are meant to be judged by goals but Karim Benzema seem to have redefined the role into something more than scoring. A modern-day striker needs to lead the line efficiently but should contribute in the overall build-up play. 14 goals and six assists in 26 LaLiga games are the return in numbers for Benzema but the French forward offers more to Zinedine Zidane’s team. His intelligence as a playmaker and ability to drag defenders out of position makes him a dangerous forward. His partnership with Messi and Lucas would be lethal in attack.
El Entrenador – Zinedine Zidane. It is over a year since he returned to the White House to take reins again. The rebuilding job at Real Madrid has been slow but there has been significant progress as well compared to the team last season. Many of the players who looked out of their depth last year have picked up under him again and the French coach has managed his current team with the available resources. Zidane has shown this season that he has what it takes to be ranked in the elite class and he is the right coach to lead this team.
This is our LaLiga of the season so far. Feel free to disagree with Yemi and I, do not hesitate to use the comment section beneath to put in another player you feel deserves a place in the team.