With the new year beginning and La Liga's 2012-13 season about to resume, it's time to start reviewing the top players by position from the first half.
This column, the first of six, reviews the top full-backs from the first five months of play.
This is not a ranking of the best players overall, but rather a ranking of who the most in-form footballers have been through December.
Note: All statistics taken from WhoScored.com.
Cristian Sapunaru has had no problem adjusting to Spanish football and instantly became one of the most in-form full-backs in the league.
Unfortunately, the Romanian is also still as reckless as ever. He is very similar to Chelsea's David Luiz in that respect.
The former Porto defender averages an incredible 4.3 tackles per game and has great instincts when it comes to blocking shots, but he also fouls far too much.
He co-leads the league with nine yellow cards already earned, but his slide tackles get the ball more often than the man, so it would be hard to fault him.
It may seem unfair to rate someone who has yet to play 10 matches so highly, but Carlos Martinez has just been that good in the past two months.
He did not play a single minute until the last week of October, but there has not been a better defender in Spain than La Real's full-back since then.
The Spaniard leads the league in both tackles (4.7) and interceptions (3.6) per game and has been pivotal in Real Sociedad's late surge.
He put on five man-of-the-match performances in his last six games to close out the first half. That is simply incredible.
After the Supercopa, many Cules were calling for Adriano to be shipped out after earning a red card and playing a pretty mediocre match as a right-back against Real Madrid.
Four months later, he has those same fans swooning and has earned a contract extension to boot.
The Brazilian has been deployed in every defensive position under Tito Vilanova and even anchored a three-man defense.
Right now he has more goals than Karim Benzema, and his screamer against Atletico Madrid was a Goal of the Year candidate.
If he had played a few more than eight games as a full-back, Adriano would be in the top five on this list.
Cicinho started the season at breakneck speed and was the best full-back in the league by a wide margin.
As the season wore on, though, the Brazilian's form declined with that of the rest of his teammates, and he finished with a whimper rather than the bang he started with.
Malaga has the best full-back pairing in La Liga right now, and Jesus Gamez deserves just as much credit as his more praised partner, Nacho Monreal.
Gamez is very sound defensively and has taken big strides this season as a well-rounded defender.
His 3.5 tackles and 2.3 interceptions per game make him one of only two right-backs to be top five in both categories.
The Spaniard goes a bit unrecognized playing alongside Monreal and Martin Demichelis, but he is as big a reason as anyone that Malaga have one of Europe's top defenses this season.
Osasuna looked to be dead in the water before finally stringing some points together in late autumn, but one player who was always consistent was Damia.
The full-back has swapped flanks almost flawlessly all season and has been the best player on a surprisingly resolute defense.
Osasuna's attack has been dreadful, but the back line has allowed only 19 goals to date, the same number that Barcelona have let in.
Damia is not at all elite, but has been consistently on form all season long.
Jordi Alba is as liable defensively as last season, relying largely on his speed to cut off passes and cover his mistakes, but there is no better attacking full-back in the league right now.
Only his teammate Adriano has been as threatening going forward, and his link-up play with Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta is simply stellar.
He does not have the defensive soundness of Monreal or his predecessor Eric Abidal and still losing the ball too often close to goal, but Alba is a major reason Barcelona have been the deadliest attacking team in Spain.
He has integrated immediately into the team and really given a new dimension to the attack.
A back injury caused by the FIFA bug forced Nacho Monreal to miss all of November and two months in total, but he has been world-class when on the pitch.
It is no coincidence that Malaga's worst period this season came when their left-back was on the recovery table.
Los Boquerones only managed to win a single game in the two months that Monreal was out, but suffered only one loss when he was fit.
If he had stayed healthy throughout the first half, he would have a strong case as the top left-back to this point, but he can still win that honor by season's end.
There is no way of knowing how different the Madrid Derby would have gone had Filipe Luis been fit to play, but he has a chance to show us in the second half.
Despite his injury, the Brazilian has remained the best and most complete left-back in La Liga this season.
He averages more key passes and successful dribbles per game than Jordi Alba, but also averages more interceptions and tackles per game than Nacho Monreal.
Luis is hitting his prime, and if Atletico Madrid can keep their core stars together, he could be contending for some major silverware in the coming years.
Unlike Cicinho and Carlos Martinez, who were unable to replicate top form for the entire first half (for different reasons), Hugo Mallo was in contention for the best right-back throughout the half.
The 21-year-old has exploded in La Liga and has put himself right in the middle of any discussion about who will one day take Alvaro Arbeloa's place for Spain.
Mallo leads the entire league in interceptions per game and earned a five-year extension back in September that could bring a lot of money to Celta Vigo in the next couple of years.
He may be getting his first taste of top-flight football this season, but the Spanish Under 21 star has shown incredible poise so far.