Barcelona's End of 2014/15 Season Awards

Jason Pettigrove@@jaypetti1971Contributor IJune 9, 2015

Barcelona enjoyed one of their best-ever seasons.
Barcelona enjoyed one of their best-ever seasons.David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona can look back on 2014/15 as another one of their best seasons ever.

By becoming the first side ever to complete the treble twice, the Catalans have cemented their place at the pinnacle of world football, and it remains to be seen if Luis Enrique's side can go on to complete another sextuple by the end of the year.

Regardless, the season will be looked upon as one of two halves and although Barca hadn't performed particularly badly before Christmas, it was certainly after the game at Real Sociedad that things began to change noticeably.

Simply put, no team could live with Barcelona in 2014/15.

Not the German champions, English champions, Dutch champions, French champions, Spanish champions, Italian champions, European champions, world champions nor Europa League holders.

Not a bad record to look back upon!

Winning all three trophies available to them was an appropriate reward.

Let's take a look at the end-of-season awards...

Best Player

Lionel Messi continues to set the bar.
Lionel Messi continues to set the bar.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

There are a few players who have gone above and beyond during the campaign, but once again Lionel Messi stands head and shoulders above all of his teammates.

After a season under Tata Martino, Nick Harris of Four Four Two was just one of many to suggest that Messi was past it.  

It was fairly clear quite quickly that Messi wasn't going to mess about during this campaign, and a season in which you rack up 58 goals and 23 assists, per WhoScored.com, is frankly astonishing.

A season that saw him break the all-time La Liga scoring record, the all-time La Liga assist record and the all-time Champions League scoring record has to go down as one of his best-ever campaigns.

A hugely disappointing World Cup final loss may just have been the catalyst for a renewed assault on world football by the Argentine, and playing every minute of every game in La Liga also deserves appropriate recognition.

Messi has never been fitter, or it would seem, happier.

Best Signing

At €15m, Ivan Rakitic was a stunning piece of transfer business.
At €15m, Ivan Rakitic was a stunning piece of transfer business.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Again, there are candidates who have a genuine shout of this award.

Claudio Bravo, for example, with an exemplary first season in Blaugrana. A season where he picked up the Zamora award for least number of goals conceded in La Liga.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen can also hold his head high knowing he has been an integral part of both of Barcelona's cup successes.

Luis Suarez quietened the doubters. After missing two months of the season because of his World Cup misdemeanors, and getting off to a relatively slow start as his fitness returned, who could've foreseen the impact that the Uruguayan would have on the team.

Goals, assists, work rate. Suarez's performances were all we came to expect of the ex-Liverpool talisman, and his willingness to tailor his own game to suit Messi and Neymar was one of the key ingredients why the front three worked so well together.

However, the signing of the season has to be Ivan Rakitic.

Signed for just €15 million from Sevilla, the Croatian has been the fulcrum of everything that Luis Enrique has tried to achieve.

Trying to adapt Barca's natural style of play to something more vertical, where quick recycling of possession and turnover ball is paramount, required a player with intelligence and speed of thought.

Rakitic has done everything asked of him in the midfield area, both in an attacking and defensive sense, and while Xavi will be missed, of course, Barca are in safe hands with Rakitic patrolling in the middle of the park.

Worst Signing

A season to forget for Thomas Vermaelen.
A season to forget for Thomas Vermaelen.David Ramos/Getty Images

Only two players can be considered for this one: Thomas Vermaelen and Douglas.

At the time of signing, Barca were indeed looking for a central defender of note, and a potential right-back replacement for Dani Alves. However, both signings made little sense.

Vermaelen had been injury prone throughout his time at Arsenal and Barca's medical team were even allegedly against the signing per Sport (via talkSPORT).

Douglas seemed nothing more than a stop-gap, and that was confirmed when he played just 73 minutes of Barca's season until the final match of La Liga.

Given his higher profile, you would have to say that Vermaelen's transfer has been the worst piece of business that the club have done for a while.

Whether he can make up for a poor 2014/15 during the next campaign remains to be seen.

Best Goal

No doubt that Lionel Messi's strike in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao was the goal of the season.

His second against Bayern Munich runs it close and Pedro's overhead kick against Real Sociedad and Luis Suarez's scissor-kick against Levante are worthy of a mention, but nothing was better than one of the best goals of any season, not just 2014/15.

Reminiscent of his "Maradona" goal against Getafe in 2007, Messi received the ball from Alves just a few yards inside Athletic's half of the pitch before beating three players on his angled run into the box, turning Aymeric Laporte inside out and firing into the corner of Iago Herrerin's goal.

Enjoy it again:

Best Individual Performance

In what was expected to be one of Barca's toughest matches of the season, Luis Suarez came up big.

Paris Saint-Germain, despite missing two key players in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marco Verratti in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final, were still expected to provide stiff opposition given that they had already beaten the Catalans at the Parc des Princes earlier in the competition.

Neymar gave Barca the early lead, but Suarez's brace was the icing on the cake of a typically hard-working performance.

Virtually unplayable at times, David Luiz certainly would've been happy to have seen the back of Suarez for another season after he'd made the Brazilian look utterly stupid with a nutmeg on the way to a glorious strike.

There are other candidates, of course, but Suarez's contribution in Paris cannot be underplayed as it most certainly handed the advantage in the tie to Barca. 

Most Improved Player

Dani Alves was inspirational during the latter part of the season.
Dani Alves was inspirational during the latter part of the season.Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Dani Alves' form hadn't dipped to any drastic extent, but in the opening weeks of the season it appeared that old Father Time was slowly but surely catching up with the Brazilian.

Fortunately for the player, his campaign just continued getting better and better.

With only Martin Montoya and Douglas to challenge him in the right-back slot, Alves' run of games saw him play himself back into form and rekindle the almost telepathic partnership with Lionel Messi.

By the end of the season, Messi himself was telling UEFA (h/t Daniel Prescott of the Daily Mail) that Alves was the best right-back in the world.

It was hard to argue against that.

A shame, then, that posturing over the award of a new contract overshadowed the final weeks of the season and seemed to have ended his days in Blaugrana until an 11th-hour change of heart finally saw Alves tie himself to the club until 2017.

Biggest Disappointment

In a season of such success, it's almost impossible to find disappointment; however, the events of January 4, 2015, could be described as such.

A frankly appalling performance at the Anoeta Stadium against Real Sociedad ended up being the catalyst for Barca's magnificent second half of the season.

The performance against Real Sociedad was unacceptable.
The performance against Real Sociedad was unacceptable.David Ramos/Getty Images

However, for such a talented crop of players, the truly well-below-average nature of their performance was unacceptable.

The decision by Luis Enrique to leave Neymar and Lionel Messi on the bench is a convenient get-out for players who were diabolical throughout the 90 minutes.

Hindsight tells us that yes, it was the wrong decision by the manager, but team selection remains his prerogative and his alone.

Even with Messi and Neymar on the pitch Barcelona were no better. Horrific.

Best Team Performance 

When Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich came to Camp Nou, there were genuine question marks as to whether Barcelona could triumph against the one manager who would, potentially, have all of the answers.

After 90 minutes of exquisite football, Barca answered the question emphatically.

It might have taken 75 minutes for the Blaugrana to make the breakthrough, but the final score flattered the Germans.

Every single player on the pitch played their part, and Guardiola himself was keen to acknowledge just how good his former club, and protege Messi, had been, telling reporters:

He (Messi) is the best player of all time. I compare him with Pele. I am so happy to see this football.

He is back, he is there where I had the privilege to train him. He is definitely back at his best.

When Barça have the ball they are extremely strong. I hope in Berlin they can win the fifth European Cup.

Barca were completely dominant throughout, and only the heroics of Manuel Neuer kept the Bavarians in the match for so long.

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