La Liga: 10 Players Who Can't Be Stopped This Season
La Liga. It's a two-horse race, right? Year after year, the final three months always finds Barca squaring off against Real Madrid for the title. Most of the Spanish national team consists of players from these two clubs as well.
So what should this tell you?
Nothing, except for the fact that the popularity of these two clubs and their rivalry has all but eclipsed the talent of players who play for the other 18 Spanish clubs. But that's a discussion for another day.
As for the list, some of the players picked are going to be pretty obvious and some would be a welcome surprise. Or let's say just surprise to those who think that there are only two teams who belong on this list...
Arouna Koune: Levante
21 games. Eight goals. Three assists. Not much, you say?
It's one of the reasons why Levante dominated the league standings for the first part of the season. Leaving his club captain, Ballesteros, and Juanlu out would be a mistake.
Javi Varas: Sevilla
People are calling him the best goalkeeper in La Liga. I know, I know. There's Iker Casillas and Victor Valdes, right?
Considering the team that Sevilla has—a defense that is suspect, this goalie has notched up 70 saves in 22 games so far—and nine clean sheets. Valdes has 11 clean sheets and Iker has eight. No other goalkeeper even comes close...
And then, there's the Messi penalty which he saved last year...
Xavi Hernandez: FC Barcelona
Xavi has done it all, or so they say. A World and European Cup with Spain. Sextuple with FC Barcelona. Ballon D'Or nominations.
Considered to be the ultimate playmaker, he just recently broke Migeli's record of playing 549 matches for Barca.
However, his stats for the year are not bad either—18 games, six goals and six assists... not bad, eh?
Alexis Sanchez: FC Barcelona
You might be wondering why I picked this guy over Cesc, Dani, Iniesta and so on and so forth. Well, it's simple. He's firing now when Messi seems to be drawing a blank.
With Villa still away on injury and Pedro not doing anything either, this guy is getting into the act of scoring at a time when Barca seems to be at sea. Let's admit the fact that it's not fair to expect Messi to score every time.
As for his stats: 13 games, eight goals and two assists. Not too bad, considering the injury...
Roberto Soldado: Valencia
Valencia depends heavily on him to score and he has during this season. In fact, he's among the top goalscorers in La Liga as of this week and looks like he won't quit anytime soon.
His stats: 21 games, 12 goals and one assist.
Fernando Llorente: Athletic Bilbao
Despite his team—Athletic Bilbao—coming in ninth place in La Liga, in a span of 19 games, he has scored 12 goals and has one assist to his name. Given the kind of competition that the smaller clubs in Spain are up against, this performance is noteworthy indeed.
Radamel Falcao Garcia: Atletico Madrid
Radamel Falcao Garcia is compared to Falcao, the great Brazilian footballer. And for good reason, too. With Atletico Madrid fast closing in on Levante right on the heels of Espanyol, there's no doubt that his contribution of 14 goals and one assist from 19 games is working.
What's more—Messi thinks he's great, too!
Karim Benzema & Gonzalo Higuain: Real Madrid
Both of them have done Madrid proud. That's why they share third place for me. Early last year, Higuain suffered from a back injury and Benzema stepped up the ante.
Both have excellent stats that are on par with Higuain scoring 14 goals and two assists from 21 games while Benzema scoring 11 goals and five assists from 20 games.
You have to watch out for both of them—and not just one, anymore!
Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo. After that third goal against Levante, I have renewed appreciation for the man. Simply scintillating and words cannot describe his hat-trick performance. Yes, I'm a Barca fan, but you've got to applaud great football.
His stats tell the story... 27 goals and seven assists from 21 games.
Need I say more?
Lionel Messi: FC Barcelona
Diego Maradona once said that Lionel Messi is "his" Maradona. The little man's goal scoring efforts might have spluttered to a halt only recently, but he's back on track after the Bayern Leverkusen game.
I know that Madrid fans think otherwise, but Messi, for all practical purposes, is unmistakably the very best.
Yes, he might have 23 goals to Ronaldo's 27 over the last week in La Liga. Yet his record of 19 goals achieved against Bayern Leverkusen as Feb 14, 2012 as the highest goal scorer ever in the Champions League proves once again that the title that TIME Magazine bestowed on the little master holds water: King Leo, indeed.