Sports Mole's La Liga team of the season

Sports Mole picks out its 11 star performers in La Liga this season.

The 2013-14 La Liga season drew to a close at the weekend, with Atletico Madrid winning their first Spanish title since 1996 with a dramatic 1-1 draw against Barcelona.

Atletico won just two of their last five games in the league, but claimed the championship after finishing three points ahead of second-placed Barcelona and third-placed Real Madrid.

The final Champions League position went to Athletic Bilbao, while Sevilla, Villarreal and Real Sociedad finished fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.

Down the other end, Real Betis finished bottom of the table on 25 points, while Real Valladolid and Osasuna dropped out of the division following results on Sunday.

It has been another enthralling La Liga campaign and with that in mind, Sports Mole has picked out its 11 star performers, in addition to an impressive-looking bench.


Thibaut Courtois celebrates Atletico Madrid scoring against Barcelona on April 09, 2014.© Getty Images
Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid)
In truth, this is not too difficult. There have been a number of impressive goalkeepers in La Liga this season, but none more so than Courtois. The Belgian, who has been on loan at Atletico from Chelsea for the past three campaigns, is now rightly regarded as the best stopper in Europe. He kept 20 clean sheets in 37 league games this season and played in all but one La Liga match as the champions conceded just 26 times in Spain's top flight. Presence, shot-stopping ability, distribution – the 22-year-old has absolutely everything.


Real Madrid's defender Sergio Ramos celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match Real Valladolid FC vs Real Madrid CF at Jose Zorilla stadium in Valladolid on May 7, 2014© Getty Images
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
It was difficult to find a spot at centre-back for Ramos in this particular team, but he started his career at right-back and has been included in that particular position. The 26-year-old still has his critics, but he has arguably had his best season in a Madrid shirt. The Spanish international made 32 league appearances and contributed heavily to Los Blancos' incredible defensive record in the middle part of the season.


Diego Godin of Club Atletico de Madrid celebrates after scoring his goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on May 17, 2014© Getty Images
Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)
For many, the Uruguayan international is now not only the best centre-back in La Liga, but also in European football. It is difficult to argue with that statement when taking into account his performance levels this season. The 28-year-old, who played in 34 league games this season, contributing four goals in the process, was an absolute rock at the heart of a Atletico defence that conceded just 26 times all season. It has been a truly remarkable campaign for Godin.


Atletico Madrid's Joao Miranda celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Zenit during their Champions League group match on September 18, 2013© Getty Images
Miranda (Atletico Madrid)
Like many great centre-backs, you are only ever as good as your partner. That is the case for Godin and indeed Miranda, who formed the second half of the best defence in European football this season. The 29-year-old played in 32 league games for Atletico and demonstrated his tactical awareness, ability in possession, pace and strength throughout the campaign. How he has not made the Brazilian squad for this summer's World Cup is a question that is difficult to answer.


Filipe Luis of Atletico de Madrid looks on during the Spanish Super Cup second leg match between FC Barcelona and Atletico de Madrid at Nou Camp on August 28, 2013© Getty Images
Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid)
Like Miranda, Luis will also not travel to the World Cup with Brazil this summer. However, that it not a reflection of his performances this season. In short, he has been the best left-back in Europe by some considerable distance over the last 12 months. Not only has the full-back been defensively solid this season, he has proved a valuable attacking threat down the left. He missed six league games for Atletico this season and they were not the same team when he was on the sidelines.


Sevilla's Ivan Rakitic celebrates after scoring his team's second goal against Rayo Vallecano during their La Liga match on September 25, 2013© AFP
Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla)
Rakitic's statistics this season speak volumes. In 33 league matches, the Croatian scored 12 times and contributed 10 assists. The midfielder was a key reason why Sevilla finished fifth in La Liga this season and indeed won the Europa League. The 26-year-old is widely regarded as one of the best midfield talents in European football and, in truth, it would be a surprise if Sevilla retained his services this summer. He has been a serious star in Spain's top flight.


Luka Modric of Real Madrid during the pre season friendly match between Bournemouth and Real Madrid at Goldsands Stadium on July 21, 2013 © Getty Images
Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
It wasn't too long ago that the 28-year-old was voted one of Real Madrid's worst signings in some sections of the Spanish media. This season, however, the midfielder has been sensational. Alongside Xabi Alonso, Modric has pulled the strings in the middle of the park and thrived in a deeper position for Los Blancos. He has scored just once, but has contributed in more than enough areas to gain a position in this particular team.


Angel Di Maria of Real Madrid CF celebrates after scoring Real's 3rd goal during the UEFA Champions League match between Real Madrid CF and FC Copenhagen at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on October 2, 2013© Getty Images
Angel di Maria (Real Madrid)
It appeared that Di Maria was on his way out of Madrid after Gareth Bale's introduction left the Argentine on the sidelines. Los Blancos boss Carlo Ancelotti, however, had other plans and introduced the Argentine as a central midfielder with licence to roam. In 34 league matches, he contributed an incredible 17 assists. His work-rate and ability on the ball have been key for the capital outfit this season.


Atletico Madrid's Koke celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Barcelona during their Champions League quarter final match on April 9, 2014© AFP
Koke (Atletico Madrid)
Koke finished the season joint-second with Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas in the assists chart (13) in La Liga this season. Such is his presence in the Atletico XI, the Spanish international is now first choice for the majority of set pieces for the capital outfit. Overall, the 22-year-old's performance levels have been brilliant this season and there is no question that he has been a key part of their La Liga success.


Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa celebrates after scoring his team's second goal against Athletic Bilbao during their Copa del Rey match on January 29, 2014© AFP
Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)
The last few weeks have not gone to plan for Costa due to a number of injury problems, but that takes nothing away from his performances for Atletico this season. The Brazilian-born Spanish international scored 27 times in 35 league games for the capital outfit, with his goals one of the key reasons why Atletico won the title. Goals are just a small part of the 25-year-old's play, however, with his work-rate in the final third extraordinary. As it stands, the forward is expected to miss the Champions League final against Real Madrid next weekend.


Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF vs CA Osasuna on April 26, 2014© Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Like Costa, Ronaldo has also struggled with injury in the last few weeks. However, the statistics do not lie. The Portuguese scored 31 times in 30 league games and also created 47 chances for his teammates this season. As a result of his goals, the 29-year-old claimed the Pichichi prize for the league's highest scorer. He also outshone Barcelona's Lionel Messi, although the Argentine did spend two months on the sidelines earlier in the campaign.

Substitutes: Keylor Navas (Levante), Federico Fazio (Sevilla), Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Diego Godin of Club Atletico de Madrid celebrates after scoring his goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on May 17, 2014
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona11002023
2Real Sociedad11003213
3Leganes11001013
4Valencia11001013
5Atletico MadridAtletico10102201
6GironaGirona10102201
7Espanyol10101101
8Sevilla10101101
9Athletic Bilbao10100001
10Getafe10100001
11Deportivo La CorunaDeportivo00000000
12EibarEibar00000000
13Levante00000000
14Malaga00000000
15Real Madrid00000000
16Villarreal00000000
17Celta Vigo100123-10
18AlavesAlaves100101-10
19Las PalmasLas Palmas100101-10
20Real Betis100102-20
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