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Sports Mole's La Liga team of the season

Sports Mole's La Liga team of the season
© AP Photos
Sports Mole selects its 11 star performers in La Liga following another pulsating season of Spanish action.

For a team supposedly in decline, it has been some season for Barcelona, with the Catalan outfit regaining the La Liga title from rivals Real Madrid in style.

In truth, the title race had been over for some time with Real Madrid struggling for form and indeed results in the latter part of the year. The gap between the two sides was 15 points at the end of the season, with Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho departing the Bernabeu with his tail between his legs.

It proved to be a successful season for Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, with Diego Simeone leading his side to third position in the table in addition to securing Copa del Rey success against capital rivals Real Madrid in the final of the competition last month.

The final Champions League berth was to be decided on the final weekend, with Real Sociedad's 1-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna enough to secure fourth position in the table at the expense of Valencia, who were beaten by an Alvaro Negredo-inspired Sevilla.

Down the other end of the table, it was Celta Vigo who managed to survive with a 1-0 win over Espanyol on the final weekend. Deportivo's resurgence in the final few months counted for nothing, however, as they dropped out of the league alongside Real Mallorca and Real Zaragoza.

Here, Sports Mole selects its 11 star performers in La Liga following another pulsating season of Spanish action.

Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid)
Despite his tender years, the Belgian goalkeeper is now rightly regarded as one of the best in his position in world football. The 21-year-old is currently on loan from Chelsea, but it is no surprise that Atletico are keen to keep him in the Spanish capital next season. In addition to demonstrating his wonderful shot-stopping ability, Courtois's aerial dominance and distribution have been exceptional this season.

Inigo Martinez (Real Sociedad)
It has been a real breakthrough season for the young defender, who has established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the division. The Spaniard also chipped in with some important goals, finding the back of the net on four separate occasions in the league. His performances this season have reportedly drawn attention from across Europe, which is no surprise having watched his confidence grow throughout the campaign.
Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)
With just 31 goals conceded, Atletico comfortably boasted the best defensive record in the league this season. The 27-year-old was a key member of a back-line that kept 20 clean sheets during the campaign, with his partnership with Miranda blossoming under Simeone. His performances this season have finally placed the Uruguayan among the top defenders in Europe, let alone Spain.
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
The Spanish defender took on the captaincy role for a large part of the season with skipper Iker Casillas benched in the final months by Madrid boss Mourinho. It has been a much-changed back-line for the former Spanish champions this season, but the 27-year-old has been a constant throughout. The centre-back also contributed seven goals in total, including the winner in the 2-1 win over Barcelona in March.

Koke (Atletico Madrid)
The youngster, who came through Atletico's youth system, has blossomed this season. It has been his best campaign in terms of appearances and goals, with his performances in midfield playing a large part in the club's success this season. The 21-year-old has everything you could possibly want to develop into one of the best of his kind in European football.
Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid)
While those around him have disappointed, the German international has, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, carried the main threat for Madrid this season. He found the back of the net on nine occasions in the league in addition to contributing 11 assists, which is the joint-third best record in La Liga. At just 24 years of age, the attacking midfielder is not even at his peak, which is a scary thought for opposing defenders.
Isco (Malaga)
Isco was given the task of replacing Santi Cazorla in the Malaga team this season. Well, he certainly rose to that task. The youngster has scored eight goals for the Andalusian side this season, while his performances, certainly in the early part of the season, have placed him as the most exciting Spaniard in the league. The midfielder is set to leave the club this summer, however, with Manchester City monitoring proceedings.
Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
With teammate Xavi struggling for form in the latter part of the season, Iniesta's form for Barcelona became all the more important. Spain's best player at Euro 2012 has had an exceptional campaign for the club, registering three goals and 15 assists in the league – comfortably the best total in the division. There is little question that he remains the best of his kind in world football.

Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
It has been a somewhat low-key end to the season for the Argentine, with injury derailing his bid to score 50 league goals for the second successive season. Despite that, Messi has found the back of the net in the league on 46 occasions this term, including a run of 21 league games in which he had struck at least once. It has been another stellar campaign for the 25-year-old.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
The Portuguese has certainly had his troubles this season with continued uncertainty surrounding his long-term future with Madrid. He has so often been the saviour for Mourinho's side, however, with 34 league goals in as many matches this campaign. The former Manchester United forward has also contributed 10 assists. He has been the standout player in La Liga this season.
Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla)
The final forward position in this particular side was between Negredo and Radamel Falcao, but the former has just eased into the team. In what has been a largely disappointing season for Sevilla, the Spanish striker has been their shining light. Four goals on the final weekend against Valencia made it 25 league goals in 34 games for the club this season. That total placed him as the topscoring Spaniard in the league.

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Athletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao is congratulated following a goal against Valencia on March 31, 2013
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Result: Atletico win Copa del Rey
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· Team GB's Victoria Thornley in heat four of the single sculls (2am)
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