The La Liga Team of the Year has taken on an unfamiliar look this year, not only because Lionel Messi has been omitted from the cast but also because no Barcelona players have been included at all.
The 2013-14 line-up was published by the official Liga Nacional de Futbol Profesional (LFP) website on Monday, a controversial selection that included only one player from Barca and Real Madrid combined:
|2013-14 La Liga Team of the Year|
|Goalkeeper||Thibaut Courtois||Atletico Madrid|
|Left-Back||Luis Filipe||Atletico Madrid|
|Centre-Back||Diego Godin||Atletico Madrid|
|Centre-Back||Aymeric Laporte||Athletic Club|
|Centre Midfield||Ander Iturraspe||Athletic Club|
|Right Midfield||Koke||Atletico Madrid|
|Left Midfield||Gabi||Atletico Madrid|
|Attacking Midfield||Ivan Rakitic||Sevilla|
|Striker||Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid|
|Striker||Diego Costa||Atletico Madrid|
La Blaugrana have endured a forgettable season in which their only trophy triumph was that of the Spanish Super Cup back in August.
Saturday's 1-1 draw at home to Atletico Madrid meant that Los Rojiblancos won their first league title since 1996 and condemned Barca to the runner-up spot, three points behind Diego Simeone's men.
Pete Jenson of the Daily Mail also chose to put no Barcelona players in his team of the year, while WhoScored.com found room for two of the club's stars in its postseason honours:
It serves as the unwanted icing on the cake of a campaign that has left a bad taste in Catalan country, with Sky Sports confirming after Saturday's curtain call that Gerardo Martino acknowledged he would step down after a season as coach:
In agreement with the club I am no longer the coach. I deeply regret not having achieved the goals that this club has always been set and achieved. These are great players. My greatest gratitude goes to the players. They have made me proud.
Messi's season was interrupted by injury, limiting the Argentine to a below-average 31 league fixtures, during which he netted 28 goals, three behind Pichichi winner and top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, per the official Real Madrid Twitter account:
The Portuguese makes the cut despite not being able to push Real past third place, starring alongside Champions League final opponent Diego Costa of Atletico Madrid, who is one of seven players from the championship-winning outfit to be included.
To see the Barca defenders go without nomination is less surprising. The side's attack was mercurial in scoring a massive 100 goals this league season, but Atletico can perhaps be considered evidence of how crucial a solid back line is to a title campaign, boasting one of the best defensive records in European football this season.
Further proof comes from the fact that Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte is the only player outside of Atletico Madrid's squad to make his way into the back five.
La Liga's lack of recognition for the Barca playing staff isn't all that surprising for CNN.com's Jonathan Stevenson, who recently discussed the transition of Barcelona "losing its soul," lauding Simeone and Atleti for their ahead-of-the-curve ways.
In the wake of Pep Guardiola's 2012 exit from the club and with veterans such as Carles Puyol, Victor Valdes, Eric Abidal and others having left or leaving the club in the months to come, it's a time of change at the Camp Nou.
With that in mind, the La Liga Team of the Year is recognition of the shift in dynamic, with what was not so long ago the continent's undeniable force going without celebration this season.
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