La Liga's Top 20 Goals This Season
In continuing my end-of-season review for La Liga's 2011-2012 season, here are the best 20 goals we saw this campaign.
Now see some of the best goals those players gave fans this season.
The only rules are that the goals had to be in league games. In some cases, European matches between two Spanish sides also qualified.
From incredible title-winning shots to bicycle kicks, this season gave us everything.
In no particular order, here are La Liga's 20 best goals of the season.
Messi's Barcelona Record
Typical Barcelona. Typical Lionel Messi.
Spread the defense, create a few small lanes, draw the defense over and let Messi work his magic.
If you pause at six seconds, you will notice that there are nine defenders to three Barcelona players. Messi also has four green shirts trailing him.
This one gave Messi one more than Barcelona's great Kubala, with 195 goals.
Warning: This is not the last time you will see Lionel Messi on this list.
The build-up to this goal was just as fun to watch as the goal itself.
Watch Ozil's beautiful one-touch back-heel pass to Ronaldo, who then pulled Diego Lopez out of position for an open net.
Sadly, the finale of this match against the Yellow Submarine overshadowed a brilliant goal by Ronaldo and Real Madrid.
Pop quiz: Which player had the most goals in the second half of La Liga outside of Messi and Ronaldo?
Answer: Carlos Vela. The former Arsenal man scored 10 goals in the second half of the season.
This one came back in December, but was arguably his biggest of the season. It helped beat Malaga as part of a seven-game streak without a loss to Sociedad.
Vela's bicycle kick came in the 89th minute to tie Malaga at two goals apiece. Irfan would win it less than two minutes later.
Messi Free Kick Atletico
Advantageous? Sure. Still brilliant? I'd say so.
Lionel Messi scored this incredible free kick with a few Atletico players not even ready for play to start. The whistle had blown and the players gave the all-clear sign, so that is no excuse.
Regardless, the angle and placement of this shot were pretty perfect anyway. I doubt Courtois would have stopped it no matter what.
As proven with this free kick against Espanyol, Messi can score no matter how ready the opposition is.
Ronaldo Back Heel
This was part Ronaldo being bold and part Ronaldo being lucky. It was still incredible.
Some would argue that this back-heel goal against Malaga was actually more impressive, given that he was actually marked and the keeper expected it.
Of course, that one did not win the match for Real Madrid.
Falcao vs. Valencia
This was in the Europa League rather than La Liga, but both teams were Spanish, so we will let it count.
As seen with this goal, Falcao does not have the acceleration of Messi or the sheer speed of Ronaldo.
However, this shot showed that his power and placement are world class. Proof that Falcao is one of the best forwards in football.
Nutmeg and Chip
I am not sure who should be embarrassed on this one—the midfielder for not winning the ball from a player who was on the ground for getting nutmegged, or the keeper for getting chipped so close to his own net.
I suppose that since it was Lionel Messi who scored, no one could really feel too ashamed.
Ronaldo from Distance
What did we learn here? Two things:
1. Cristiano Ronaldo likes his thighs.
2. A tip for Spanish defenses—do not give CR7 more than five feet of room anywhere in your own half. He will make you pay.
Apparently Osasuna did not watch the Sevilla match earlier in the season where Ronaldo scored this goal from the top of the box.
Mr. Europa League
Falcao has scored more goals in the Europa League than anyone else in history besides Henrik Larsson. Of course, Falcao has had 26 fewer games in the competition than the Swede.
The now two-time reigning champion has never scored a bigger goal than this one.
After embarrassing Fernando Amorebieta with a quick turn, Falcao scored his second goal in the Europa League final. It was the killer that put the game out of reach for Athletic Bilbao.
This one gave Atletico its second Europa League trophy in three years and his second consecutive title.
Ronaldo's Derby Dead Ball
Welcome to La Liga, Thibaut.
Do not worry about the derby, you should be fine. After all, haven't you heard that Cristiano Ronaldo chokes in big games?
Perhaps those critics should actually watch Ronaldo play more often.
With Real Madrid reeling and Barcelona having closed Real Madrid's 12-point lead to just four points, CR7 carried Real when they needed him most.
Ronaldo's free kick left Courtois totally frozen here. His performance in this match probably inspired Real enough to finally beat Barcelona the next week and end their reign over La Liga.
An honorable mention goes to Ronaldo's other fantastic shot from outside the box. That was the one that killed Atletico's spirit after fighting back and leveling the score.
Messi Hat Trick Against Atletico
Ronaldo was not the only great to beat Atletico Madrid almost singlehandedly.
Months earlier, Lionel Messi tore one of the league's best defenses apart with a hat trick against Atletico in Barcelona.
The first goal showed Messi beating the entire defense with just the slightest move to his right. But each goal was fine on its own, so they all had to be included here.
'He Shoots with His Left, He Shoots with His Right'
His first goal on this list saw the power of his left foot. This goal shows how Falcao can chip with his right as well.
If Falcao goes to Chelsea or another big English club next season, people will be talking mentioning him as one of the very best finishers in Europe.
Us La Liga fans can say we were ahead of the curve.
'Radamel Falcao, lololololololo!!
Radamel Falcao, lololololololo!!
The Ronaldo Debate
Some argue that Ronaldo bent this ball just enough to get it around Munua.
Others argue that he chipped the ball from 25 yards out and was actually successful.
Whatever the case, this effort from Ronaldo was as unstoppable as any shot we saw this season. It also completed yet another hat trick for the Portuguese star.
This was probably the fastest ball of any on this list.
Eliseu grabbed a loose ball outside the box before blowing a remarkable left-footed strike into the' top right-hand corner of the net.
The sheer velocity of this shot is incredible.
Negredo Bicycle Kick
Santi Cazorla Unstoppable Free Kick
A few Real Madrid fans may remember this one.
When Iker Casillas—arguably the best keeper in football—is between the posts, very rarely is anything unstoppable.
This free kick from Santi Cazorla is one of those rare moments. This is as perfect a free kick as you will see from that spot.
Santi put it over the wall and into the top right corner of the net with maybe an inch to spare between the posts.
Goals like his free kick and this dagger against Getafe show why Cazorla was the most dangerous midfielder in the Spain this year.
He scored more goals from distance than any player in the league this season with eight.
Everything about this goal is fantastic.
Ronaldo did well to create space and put the cross in. He used seed and dribbling to get around the defender.
But Benzema's shot... wow.
The angle is extremely tight and the keeper played it perfectly. Nothing could be done, though. What a volley.
Falcao Wins the Europa League
Sometimes the defense can only sit in silence and wonder what they could have done differently. This was one of those times.
I do not think we can even fault Bilbao for this one.
They closed Falcao down, turned him inside to where there was help, and even had three defenders on him.
Iraizoz was positioned perfectly as well. There was simply no way for Falcao to beat him, especially with his body turned so far out wide.
But somehow, the Colombian curled this one into the far corner and out of reach for Bilbao's keeper.
This goal proved to be enough to win, but as you saw earlier on this list, Falcao would not settle for just one.
Iñigo Martinez Halfway Line Pair
To score one screamer from the middle of the pitch is impressive. To score two is almost unheard of. That is exactly what Iñigo Martinez did this season, though.
The second was a screamer. It went roughly 58 yards at over 50 miles per hour.
Not bad for a 20-year-old defender.
Julio Baptista Bicycle Winner
Happy 30th birthday, Julio. Is there a better way to win a match?
This bicycle kick is incredible on its own. It being on Julio Baptista's birthday makes it special. The fact that it was the dramatic winner against Getafe gives it the trifecta.
Of course, not everything about this goal was happy for Baptista. This was the last time he touched a football this season, as he hurt his right leg and did not play another match.