Ranking the 10 Injuries That Had the Biggest Impact on the La Liga Season

Tre' Atkinson@@TreAtkinsonFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2014

Ranking the 10 Injuries That Had the Biggest Impact on the La Liga Season

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    This has been one of the most entertaining La Liga seasons in recent memory. Yet, for every moment of joy, there have been just as many periods of anguish, with injuries playing a big role in how this season played out.

    From season-ending ACL injuries to players being sidelined at the absolute worst time of the year, clubs suffered.

    While teams cannot simply blame injuries for having a poor season or run of form, it would be wrong to think that they haven't affected outcomes.

    With that being said, we will now take a look back at the top 10 injuries that impacted the La Liga season. Ranking will depend on the severity and length of the injury, how much it affected the team as a whole, and what it meant in the grand scheme of things.

    Of course, not every big injury this year can make our list, so be sure to get involved in the discussion below!

10. Raphael Varane

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    The case of Raphael Varane is very odd. Goal.com reported last May that the Real Madrid centre-back had undergone successful knee surgery, but he has yet to recapture his form before the injury last season.

    However, the surgery was not the only problem that he faced.

    Varane would later suffer several other minor problems, including another knee issue that saw him sidelined for 71 days.

    With all of the injury problems that Varane has faced this season, it isn't surprising that he has yet to be able to command a more consistent role under manager Carlo Ancelotti.

    The 21-year-old has only featured 19 times this season, and his constant absence left Real Madrid very thin at the back in the first half of the season.

    However, Varane only comes in at No. 10 on our list due to the fact that Real Madrid have managed to get by just fine this season with the Frenchman in and out of the lineup.

9. Sami Khedira

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    Just when it seemed as though new Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti had his players and lineup figured out, there was a massive setback.

    During Germany's friendly match against Italy in November, Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira had to be helped off of the pitch after picking up a knock. Reports from Inside Spanish Football would later reveal that that the 27-year-old had broken the ACL in his right knee in two places.

    It was a difficult injury for Real Madrid to overcome and it took the club quite some time to figure things out.

    Though Real Madrid have still been able to win the Copa del Rey and make it to the Champions League Final, the absence of Khedira has forced Ancelotti to tinker with lineups more than he would like.

    The German international did finally return to training in April, but has yet to set foot back on the field in an official match.

    Like Varane, Khedira wasn't missed too badly in the grand scheme of things and comes in ninth on our list. With that said, Real Madrid would definitely love to have him for the Champions League Final with Xabi Alonso suspended.

8. Carlos Gurpegui

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    Under the leadership of manager Ernesto Valverde, the centre-back combo of Carlos Gurpegui and Aymeric Laporte quickly became one of the best defensive partnerships in Europe.

    All looked well for Athletic Club Bilbao captain Gurpegui, as he seemed to have put his injuries behind him and was teaching young Laporte more every day.

    It would not last forever, though.

    In late March, the 33-year-old agreed to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery which would rule him out for the rest of the season.

    It was clear that Gurpegui could not put off the surgery despite Athletic being in the most trying period of their season, but that didn't make his absence any less noticeable.

    Mikel San Jose immediately replaced Gurpegui in the lineup, but it didn't work at first. Laporte and San Jose had to get used to playing together, which took much longer than fans were prepared for.

    Luckily, things were figured out and Athletic were able to clinch the fourth spot in the La Liga table and Champions League play next season. Though their season was not lost, the absence of Gurpegui on the pitch is still noticeable, as his leadership always plays a big role for Los Leones.

    Gurpegui's injury comes in at No. 8 on our list.

    Athletic were able to get past the loss of their captain, but it took a long time to transition and form was completely lost at first when the club couldn't afford to drop points.

7. Esteban Granero

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    It seems as though ACL injuries were the biggest problems in La Liga this season, which is expected with it being one of the most common injuries in the game.

    Esteban Granero, however, is still suffering from his.

    The former Real Madrid midfielder joined Real Sociedad last summer in hopes of helping the Basque side make a strong push in the Champions League. However, it was European play that ruined his first season at Anoeta.

    Granero was subbed on in the 82nd minute against Shakhtar Donetsk, which was his first appearance of the season in the Champions Leagure group stage, but the night would end in disaster.

    The 26-year-old would soon pick up a knee injury, which was later confirmed to be an ACL injury in his right knee.

    Granero has yet to return to action since the injury and his absence left a big hole in the La Real midfield. Losing such an important player left the Basques short-handed and it took them a long time to find their rhythm in the early season.

    He makes No. 7 on our list based on the fact that he was injured in his first Champions League group stage match, the very competition he joined the club to play in.

    His absence left La Real depleted and in a bad place.

6. Lionel Messi

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    A few seasons ago, the idea of Lionel Messi missing time due to injury was unheard of. The Argentine seemed indestructible, but all of that changed last season.

    After a strong start to the season, Messi picked up another injury in November and was officially ruled out of any action for the rest of 2013. The 26-year-old would finally return to the pitch in January, but the problems haven't ended.

    From poor performances to curious moments of vomiting, Messi still doesn't look like his normal self. Fans have to wonder what it would have been like for Barcelona to not have lost Messi for such a long time.

    Though the Argentine is back to full fitness now, there is still a bit of worry over what another possible injury could mean for him. There is no replacing Messi, but that is what Barcelona have been forced to do far too often this season and last.

    Messi slides in at No. 6 because his absence didn't hurt the team as much as anticipated. Barcelona were still able to get the job done for the most part, even though the club is still feeling the effects today.

5. Giovani Dos Santos

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    Villarreal spent much of the first half of the season directly competing with Athletic Club Bilbao for the fourth spot in the La Liga table.

    The Yellow Submarine now find themselves seventh and the injury of Giovani Dos Santos has a lot to do with that.

    Dos Santos and Ikechukwu Uche formed a dominant strike force in La Liga from the very first week of action. Their link-up play and pace worked well together and many thought they could carry Villarreal to a possible Champions League finish.

    Yet all of those hopes fell apart when Dos Santos suffered a muscle tear in his left leg in late March.

    The Mexican finally returned from injury in late April, but his time away from the pitch would hurt him greatly. The 24-year-old has only played in three matches since his return from injury, none of which Villarreal were able to win.

    Giovani's injury came at the absolute worst time. Villarreal were slipping and needed to figure things out, yet that was exactly when their most prolific player went down.

    They should barely qualify for the Europa League, but are lucky they didn't drop lower.

4. Xavi Torres

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    Like the loss of Ruben Castro, which we will get to soon, the injury of Xavi Torres derailed Real Betis' season before it could even begin.

    With Castro sidelined, Torres was carrying Betis on his shoulders. The holding midfielder stood as the only line of defense for the club in most games and he could not afford to miss a single match.

    Luck really hasn't been on Betis' side this season. In early December, Torres would be forced to miss the rest of the season with a torn Achilles tendon

    With Castro and Torres now sidelined, Real Betis did not stand a chance. The club continued their tumble down the bottom of the table and were sadly not able to escape relegation.

    Torres takes the fourth spot due to the fact that he was the last line of defense who was lost when needed the most. Real Betis were already missing their star, so losing the only player left who could save them was just too much.

3. Sisi

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    Watching Sisino Gonzalez Martinez being stretchered off the pitch in late October was an absolute nightmare for Osasuna fans. The winger had taken a bad step which hurt his knee, but would later find out just how serious the injury was.

    Sisi had suffered a break in the ACL of his left knee. The 28-year-old had already suffered the same injury in his right knee back in 2012.

    Sisi has yet to return to training for Osasuna and his future is surely in question. The winger may never be able to play football again, but is working hard in hopes of making a full recovery.

    As we speak, Osasuna are locked in a relegation battle. They very well could drop this season, and the club would be very disappointed to see that happen. Fans weren't expecting the club to challenge for Europe, but relegation definitely wasn't a thought either.

    Sisi easily takes the third spot on this list.

2. Ruben Castro

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    By far, one of the biggest injuries of the season happened before the campaign could even really get started and arguably cost Real Betis their lives.

    Ruben Castro, the unquestioned leader of Real Betis, suffered constant back problems during pre-season training and missed a lot of matches.

    The 31-year-old was not able to return to action until late November, but by that time the club had already put themselves into a relegation battle very quickly.

    After Castro finally returned, it was clear just how much the club had missed his presence. He went on to score massive goals against Barcelona and Athletic Club Bilbao, but it was already too late.

    Had Castro been fully fit all year, Real Betis may have been able to avoid the drop. However, they will be playing next season in the second division.

    To many, losing Castro for so long is the biggest reason why Real Betis were relegated. It's hard to argue with that logic, and that is why he finishes second on our list.

1. Victor Valdes

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    To many, the injury of Victor Valdes will go down as the biggest injury of all in this La Liga season. The 32-year-old was in one of the best forms of his career, and his loss could have lost the league title for Barcelona.

    Valdes had to be stretchered off the field after hurting his knee against Celta Vigo in late March. The Catalan underwent successful surgery to repair his torn ACL, but he would be out for the rest of the season.

    The injury could not have come at a worse time for Barcelona. The season was nearing the most difficult stage and the Catalans were then left with only 38-year-old Jose Pinto to carry the load for the rest of the season.

    If that was not bad enough, Valdes will also have to miss this summer's World Cup due to the injury.

    Clearly, the injury to Valdes impacted the season more than any other this season. Losing the 32-year-old has been absolutely devastating for Barcelona, who have been in a title race, and the fact that he will miss the World Cup is just as worrisome.

    All player statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com.

    Which injury impacted the La Liga season the most? Are there any injuries that should be in this list? Leave your thoughts and comments below!