Sun 30 January 2022 | 14:30

2021 La Liga Team of the Year

Now that the dust has settled and we are well into 2022, let’s take a look at the year that is behind us and find out who are on our 2021 La Liga Team of the Year:

The fallout from the 2020 pandemic was really felt in 2021 and La Liga was one of the leagues most effected by the situation. With many clubs in debt and the league itself seeking to sell some of its shares to the CVC group in order to settle the clubs’ debts and aid them. However, on a footballing level, for the most part La Liga remained as high-octane and vibrant as it has always been in the past two decades.

The 2021 had some success for the Spanish football as well as their national teams reached several finals and semi-finals and managed to secure the 2nd spot in both the Olympics and the Nations League. With that in mind and with all the players that helped keep La Liga as exciting as ever both last season and in the first part of this season, let us find out who are amongst out

2021 La Liga Team of the Year


La Liga Best Team of 2021

One thing to note here is that we are not picking a team from any specific season but rather the entirety of 2021 which falls into two seasons. The formation that we are going for here is 4-3-3. So, let’s find out who makes the cut for the La Liga best team of 2021:

Goalkeeper: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao)

Th obvious choice here would’ve been the outstanding Jan Oblak who had record clean sheets last season as well as helping Atletico became champions of La Liga once more. But since most fans are aware of how excellent he is, let’s shed some light on Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Simon who gets less attention even though he has been great recently and totally deserves to be amongst the La Liga team of the season 2021.

Following the departure of




in 2018 it was Unai Simon that stepped up to be the Basque-based club’s No. 1 goalkeeper. Simon soon became one of the best young keepers around the Europe and eventually caught the eye of Luis Enrique and was called up to the Spanish national team.

A decent sweeper keeper who is among the top performers in La Liga when it comes to sweeping actions, Unai Simon’s tendency to not concede goals has been excellent in 2021, especially this season. While he was 6th amongst the keepers with 25 or more appearances last season in terms of having the least amount of goals scored against, he is 2nd this season with only 12 goals scored against him, only behind Real Betis’ Claudio Bravo.



kept 9 clean sheets last season, he has already come close to matching his record this year and will soon surpass it as he has 8 clean sheets in 18 matches. Simon was instrumental in Spain reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2020 in the summer. He managed to save 3 penalties in the quarter-final and semi-final stages of the tournament and pick up a Man of the Match award. He then immediately joined Spain’s Olympics team and went on to win the silver medal. So it is no surprise that this excellent keeper is among our 2021 La Liga Team of the Year.

Right Back: Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)

When Trippier decided to join Atletico at the beginning of 2019-20 season, many were shocked. The transfer came out of nowhere and it was an unusual move by an English player to move abroad, especially to La Liga. The fact that he became Atletico’s first English player in 95 years is further proof of that. And although the transfer had repercussions for him personally, involving a betting scandal along with a fine and 10-week ban for Trippier himself, he went on to become one of Atletico’s best players in the short time he spent at the club before eventually moving to

Newcastle United

this month.

Although England is currently having a plethora of choices when it comes to the right back position, with players like Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James and Kyle Walker all available for the position, Trippier has always been Gareth Southgate’s go to player when it comes to that position. An opinion that Diego Simeone also shares as Trippier was one of his most reliable players last seasons in their successful pursuit of the La Liga.

With 6 assists to his name, Trippier was one of the best assist providers from the full-back position and while he wasn’t doing anything exceptionally well, his overall game was solid and he was totally in service of his team. He balanced his attacking prowess with 2.2 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per game last season and was deliver somewhat of similar numbers in the 2021–22 La Liga season as well, although a bit weaker.

All in all, Kieran Trippier sustaining his great form throughout the entirety of last season as well as a good chunk of 2021 helped them win the title and is the reason the Englishman is among our 2021 La Liga Team of the Year.

Center Back: Stefan Savic (Atletico Madrid)

Really anyone from Atletico Madrid’s impressive back-line could be among our selection but for our center back we have gone with the Montenegrian Stefan Savic. Diego Godin’s departure from Atleti back in 2019 left a big hole in the center of the defense but Simeone has managed to fill that in with Stefan Savic who was exceptionally good last season and was in fact one of the pillars of Atletico Madrid’s successful La Liga campaign as they were crowned champions.

The former



Manchester City

player, the 31-year-old Savic established himself as a quality center back during his time at

Serie A

and with Fiorentina between 2012 and 2015. After signing on for Atletico for a meager €10 million fee, Savic became more of a squad player rather than a starter. However, last season he had his best season yet, being involved in over 40 games for Atletico across all competition and playing a big part in organizing Atletico’s impressive back line.

Impressively, Savic was only dribbled past 13 times in the entirety of last season and has put up great numbers in terms of interceptions and blocks. But perhaps his best ability is one that cannot be measured by numbers and that is his ability to organize the defense while also providing ball distribution from the back with his outstanding passing ability. Although his form has dipped a bit in this

2021–22 La Liga

season, like that of his club, Savic was great enough for us to include him in our 2021 La Liga Team of the Year. 

Center Back: Jules Kounde (Sevilla)

One of the surprises of last season and possibly one of the best young defenders around Europe was Sevilla’s Jules Kounde. The Frenchman has been impressing a lot in the past couple of seasons and has garnered much attention leading him to be the subject of a lengthy transfer saga throughout the 2021 summer transfer window involving teams like Chelsea and Manchester United. He also earned a call up to the insanely talented French squad for the Euro 2020. But as far as his performances in La Liga goes, was part of many La Liga team of the season 2021 selections!

Born in Paris, Jules Kounde made his professional debut for Bordeaux in 2017, having prior experiences with the club’s youth academy. 2 impressive seasons at Bordeaux followed before Kounde caught the eye of many top clubs. However, he decided to further develop his skills as a defender at Sevilla rather than moving to a big club straight away. the move cost Sevilla a reported €25 million but we suspect they will more than recoup that fee in the next few months.

A ball playing defender who is adept at playing as both a center back and a full back with an emphasis on being a center back, Jules Kounde is exceptional in one on one situations as he is hardly ever dribbled past. The Frenchman was only dribbled past 13 times in the 33 starts he had last season. Something that he has maintained this season as well (7 times). He has also improved his game and has been to intercept balls a lot more this season, already matching his 40+ interceptions from the entirety of last season.

While Jules Kounde is far from being a complete defender, the Frenchman has the makings of a great one and if developed the right way will become one of the

best in the world

. For now, he is definitely a part of our

2021 La Liga Team of the Year

as well as being one of La Liga best players of 2020/21.

Left Back: Javi Galan (Huesca/Celta Vigo)

La Liga’s unsung hero in 2021 was undoubtedly left back Javi Galan. The former Huesca player was barely on La Liga’s most devoted fans’ radar let alone an average football fan but his numbers and statistics speak for themselves and paint him as one of the best defenders in La Liga as well as one hell of a ball-carrier which is why we put him in our 2021 La Liga Team of the Year.

In terms of being a full-back or even a center back there is nothing that Javi Galan doesn’t excel at. Galan had the most successful tackles last season with 74. But he was also quite good at pressuring the opponent, with 556 pressures. When it comes to interceptions, Galan managed to be in the top 10 of La Liga too with 69 interceptions which all points to the fact that he is a strong defender despite his height (1.72m).

But perhaps the most shocking stat that Galan has is that he was La Liga’s 2nd best dribbler last season with 114 dribbles and 78% dribble success rate. That is 30 dribbles more than the 3rd placed Gerrard Moreno, meaning that Huesca’s left back is actually one of the best dribblers in the world and in fact one of the best defenders too. But he has been hardly ever talked about.

What is great about him is that he has continued his impressive performances this season at

Celta Vigo

too and is currently once again the best tackler in the Liga as well as being the 3rd best dribbler and being among the top 10 of the competition for Blocks, Pressures and Interceptions. Galan is simply an exceptional talent and one of the best defenders La Liga has to offer, so maybe us putting him in 2021 La Liga Team of the Year would at least generate a little buzz about him!

Defensive Midfielder: Casemiro (Real Madrid)

Most people who watch football consistently can attest to the fact that Casemiro has been one of the best defensive midfielders in the world in the past several seasons. The Brazilian midfielder has been a rock for Real Madrid in the heart of midfield, working like a well-oiled machine in tandem with Toni Kroos, who is also in our

La Liga best team of 2021

. Over the years Casemiro’s great performances have helped Real Madrid clinch many titles and despite Real Madrid ultimately losing the last season’s La Liga title to their neighbors, Casemiro was undoubtedly one of Liga’s standout players.

Although he has often been described as a destroyer, Casemiro is a much more complete midfielder. His great positional sense, technique and even long range shooting ability allows him to be dangerous going forward and he has shown his attacking prowess time and time again. He was an asset for Real Madrid las season when they had a shortage of goal scorers and he ended up scoring 6 goals and providing 4 assists. He has also 3 assists to his name this season as well.

Casemiro’s game is mainly about intercepting the opposition. Last season he was 2nd in successful interceptions in all of La Liga with 61 interceptions. He was also among

La Liga’s top 10 players

in terms of successful tackles and blocks with 56 and 69 respectively. Overall, there are simply a few players who are as well rounded and solid defensively as Casemiro which is why he gets the DM spot in our 2021 La Liga Team of the Year.

Central Midfielder: Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid)

In front of Casemiro we have a product of Real Madrid’s youth academy, Marcos Llorente who currently plays for their rivals, Atletico Madrid. Making his first appearance for Real Madrid in 2015, Llorente was never in Real Madrid and Zidane’s plans so he decided to switch sides and join their neighbors in 2019 and despite having a great first season, where he scored twice at Anfield as Atletico knocked the Premier League champions out of the competition, Llorente seems to have truly reached his best in his second season at Atletico which is why he is on our

La Liga team of the season 2021


Although he used to play in deeper roles as a defensive midfielder or even a deep-lying playmaker, since joining


, Diego Simeone has been using him in more advanced roles as either a box to box playmaker or even a second striker in his 4-4-2 system which seems to greatly complement Llorente’s ability to both score and create opportunities for his teammates that either end up as a goal or is straight up an assist.

With 12 goals and 11 assists to his name, Llorente was second in La Liga in terms of assists he provided. He was one of the main reasons that Atletico Madrid was able to clinch the title over their rivals in the last day of the season and despite having not a 2021–22 La Liga season so far, his performances from last season alone is enough to put him on our 2021 La Liga Team of the Year. 

Central Midfielder: Tony Kroos (Real Madrid)

Sitting beside Marcos Llorente in the midfield line of our La Liga best team of 2021 is Toni Kroos who is arguably one of the best deep lying playmakers in football in the last two decades. the 2014 World Cup winner who is by many accounts considered to be one of the best midfielders playing today, is currently spending his 9th season at Madrid, having joined them from

Bayern Munich

in 2014.

Comfortable on the ball and a true maestro of the game, Kroos has been at the heart of Real Madrid’s success in the past decade. Having won 3 consecutive Champions League titles as well as 2 La Liga titles and 4 FIFA Club World Cups. Last season he and Karim Benzema marshalled Real Madrid as they mounted a title challenge but ultimately and despite their great performances Real Madrid came in 2nd.

A dead ball specialist, Kroos had the most amount of dead ball delivery last season amongst La Liga midfielders. He was also among La Liga’s top 10 players in regards to completed passes and progressive balls with 1949 and 198 passes respectively. While the


is not a pure playmaker, his composure on the ball means that he is exactly the ball distributor and an anchor that Real Madrid’s midfield needs which is why he has performed so well with Los Blancos and which is why he is among our 2021 La Liga Team of the Year.

Left Winger: Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)

As our first attacker in La Liga best team of 2021, we have Gerard Moreno. The


target man has certainly paid his dues to be here, going through several loans at lower divisions earlier in his career and now his work finally paid off as he has earned two consecutive Zarra Trophies (given to the best Spanish goal scorer in La Liga every season) in the past two seasons. To top it all off, Moreno has continued his form all throughout summer and this season as well.

After their surprise emergence as a top club in La Liga in the mid-2000s, it seemed like Villarreal was straying further and further from their glory days in the past decade but recently they have been experiencing a resurgence that has culminated with them winning the Europa League in 2021. A big part of that is because of players like Gerrard Moreno who is the driving force behind all Villarreal attacks.

Last season Moreno managed to score 23 goals as well as providing 7 assists finishing just below Leo Messi and on par with Benzema, although a significant part of that (10) were from the penalty spot. He was also one of La Liga’s best dribblers (3rd best) and played a part in Spain’s Euro 2020 campaign. Moreno has scored 8 and assisted 2 goals this season and continues to be great which is why he is a part of our

2021 La Liga Team of the Year


Right Winger: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Even though Leo Messi is well and truly gone from Barcelona, having spent only 6 months of 2021 in La Liga, he was so dominating in that period that we have to include the Alien in our La Liga team of the season 2021. With the departure of their target man, Luis Suarez, and with no one to replace him, Messi had to once again step up and he ended up delivering goals for Barcelona last season. But even in his last season at Barcelona, the club has failed to properly replace the Argentine and are now being heavily punished for it.

Messi and Barcelona started last season rather slowly but both went on a great run after that, despite their Champions League woes. Compared to the season before, Leo didn’t manage to deliver as much assists (20) which was a La Liga record and only managed to assist 9 times. Unsurprisingly, Messi was La Liga’s best dribbler with 149 successful dribbles. The Argentine had also the most progressive passes in the league by a large margin with 317, almost 60 passes more than his closest rival.

With 30 goals and 9 assists this season, Lionel Messi has had 39 direct goal contribution in the 33 starts he has had last season. As final performances go, this was one hell of a swan song for the legendary Argentinian striker as he showed the world that even when there aren’t many world-class players around him, he still manages to outscore any player. No 2021 La Liga Team of the Year selection would be complete without Leo being in there!

Striker: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Last to appear on our 2021 La Liga Team of the Year and one of the players likely to get nominated for the

La Liga best player of 2021/22

season is none other than Real Madrid’s main man, Karim Benzema. The French striker has taken the reins of Madrid’s attack ever since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure and has been the main source of goals for Real Madrid in the past couple of years. What he has done and the way he has carried Real Madrid in that period has been nothing short of exceptional.

One of the most senior players in Real Madrid's squad and a remnant of a great team that won 4 Champions League titles, Benzema has always been counted as a decent well-rounded striker but in his younger days at Real Madrid he sometimes lacked composure in front of the goal, something which the best center forwards always have.  Now this flaw is all but vanished from his game and he seems to find the net more and more these days and has become a certified leader, driving his team in attack.

Last season, Karim Benzema has scored 23 goals in La Liga and in addition to that he has also provided 9 assists, having a direct influence the majority of goals scored by Real Madrid. And this season, despite being 34 years old, the Frenchman is scoring even more goals as well as assisting a lot. He is currently on 17 goals and 7 assists and is La Liga’s top scorer and 2nd best assist provider.

All in all, Karim Benzema has had one hell of a year, possibly even the personal best of his career, and he is probably going to finish the season as both a top scorer and a La Liga champion, further proving his exceptional qualities as a striker.



source: SportMob

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