2015 has been Spain’s year again, with their clubs sweeping all before them in European and world competition. One team, in particular, have been dominant, showing unprecedented prolificacy, while others have fallen considerably by the wayside and are punching well above their weight.
Best team: Barcelona
It’s difficult to make a case for anyone else when Barcelona have been so dominant in almost every competition in which they have competed. 2015 has been as fruitful as possible for La Blaugrana. Their name is etched onto the trophies of La Liga, Champions League, the Copa del Rey, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup.
And they did it in style as their mercurial front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez scored goals aplenty. They found yet another way to better Real Madrid, scoring an almost unfathomable 180 goals this calendar year to beat Los Blancos’ previous record
Best player: Neymar
2015 proved to be the year that Neymar wronged many of his doubters. After a stuttering first season with Barca he had a lot to prove, but he has shown both immense maturity and skill over the past year.
This season has particularly highlighted his increased importance to the Catalans. With Messi out for two months, the goalscoring burden fell onto his and Suarez’s shoulders, and they both delivered.
The No 11 has proved more prolific and creative than most had foreseen and at times put the team on his back. Forty-one goals is not to be sniffed at, either.
Best Coach: Luis Enrique
Luis Enrique too had a lot to prove in 2015. At the start of the year, stories ran rife in the media that the former Celta Vigo boss would be out of a job, citing a bust-up with Lionel Messi as the main reason.
Even if the board were close to swinging the axe, they’ll be glad they didn’t as Enrique has built a team capable of conquering most – and doing it in style.
Comparisons still persist between his Barcelona side and the one previously managed by Pep Guardiola, which is high praise in its own right.
Breakout star: Lucas Perez
Little was expected of the Deportivo La Coruna attacker, especially after his first season back in Galicia. On loan from PAOK, he only mustered six goals. Still it proved enough to convince Depor to sign him up permanently, and he has paid back that trust with goals in abundance.
The Spaniard has scored 12 League goals this season and most notably bagged seven in a row, equalling a Depor record set by Bebeto, which few would have seen coming. 2015 was the year he announced himself, not only to La Liga but the world.
Overachievers: Deportivo La Coruna
Having bounced between the top tier and second tier over the past few years, Depor have finally found their feet, avoiding relegation last season.
Under Victor Sanchez, more so this season, they have pushed on incredibly, unexpectedly finding themselves in contention for European football.
Underachievers: Real Sociedad
It’s almost hard to believe as recently as 2013 that Real Sociedad were a Champions League side. Since then, they’ve endured a steady drop, which at present sees them involved in a relegation dogfight.
The David Moyes experiment failed miserably, resulting in a year that La Real and their fans would rather forget.
Biggest surprise: Gary Neville’s Valencia appointment
Even if some Valencia fans were calling for his head, Nuno Santo to step down on the morning of November’s match against Sevilla is one thing.
But it seemed relatively pedestrian in contrast to when former Manchester United full-back Gary Neville was named as his replacement. Known more for his punditry than his role of England assistant, his lack of managerial experience seemingly ruled him out of the role.
Best match: Barcelona 5-4 Sevilla (UEFA Super Cup)
To many, Super Cup matches are little more than glorified friendlies. You wouldn’t have guessed it, however, the way Barcelona and Sevilla slugged it out in over 120 minutes of breathless, scintillating football.
Sevilla bit first but Barcelona bounced back with four goals, seemingly putting the game to rest. Los Rojiblancos rallied in the second half and clawed the game back to 4-4, before Pedro said his goodbyes in style with the winning strike in extra time.
Best quote: Paco Jemez
Speaking ahead of Rayo Vallecano’s eventual 10-2 hammering at the hands of Real Madrid in December, their Coach Paco Jemez uttered: “On the day they were handing out brains, I ended up with a small one, but when they handed out balls, I got the biggest.”