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Season review: Spain

Published: Thursday 27 May 2010, 12.18CET
FC Barcelona set a record points total in the Liga – holding off a determined Real Madrid CF challenge to claim the title – but Josep Guardiola was left ruing the loss of their European crown.
by Paul Bryan
from Madrid
Season review: Spain
Josep Guardiola addresses fans after retaining the title with Barcelona ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 27 May 2010, 12.18CET

Season review: Spain

FC Barcelona set a record points total in the Liga – holding off a determined Real Madrid CF challenge to claim the title – but Josep Guardiola was left ruing the loss of their European crown.

In a record-breaking Liga season, a reinforced Real Madrid CF pursued FC Barcelona every step of the way. Josep Guardiola's side eventually retained the championship they had won in commanding fashion the year before on the last day of the season, the top two both surpassing the previous record of 92 points.

Champions: FC Barcelona
With 2008/09 treble winners Barça received glowing tributes, Florentino Pérez returned to Madrid and attempted to redress the balance. Manuel Pellegrini was appointed with Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaká and Karim Benzema all brought in, but it was Guardiola's men who had the last laugh, home and away victories against Los Merengues ultimately proving decisive as the Azulgrana claimed a 20th Liga title.

Cup final: Sevilla FC 2-0 Club Atlético de Madrid
Both sides went into the Copa del Rey final in high spirits with Sevilla having claimed a last-gasp victory on the last day of the league season to secure a UEFA Champions League qualifying place and Atlético winning the inaugural UEFA Europa League. Diego Capel blasted Antonio Álvarez's side into an early lead and despite Diego Forlán's best efforts to pull Atlético level, Jesús Navas added another late on to take the cup south.

European places*
FC Barcelona – UEFA Champions League group stage
Real Madrid CF – UEFA Champions League group stage
Valencia CF - UEFA Champions League group stage
Sevilla FC - UEFA Champions League play-off
Club Atlético de Madrid – UEFA Europa League group stage (as holders)
RCD Mallorca – UEFA Europa League play-off
Getafe CF – UEFA Europa League play-off
*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
Messi received rave reviews for his part in his team's successes the previous year yet he surpassed even that this term. The 22-year-old managed 47 goals in 51 games to help Barça add the Liga, Spanish Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup to their bulging trophy cabinet.

One to watch: David de Gea (Club Atlético de Madrid)
Thrown in at the deep end as an 18-year-old substitute in his side's UEFA Champions League group stage encounter at FC Porto, goalkeeper De Gea has since become the No1 at the Vicente Calderón. Described as being "as cold as a wolf", the Spanish Under-21 international already boasts a UEFA Europa League winners' medal.

Surprise package: RCD Mallorca
Coach Gregorio Manzano's pre-season target was to avoid relegation. Following an incredible campaign in which they lost just three home games, however, Mallorca were seconds away from a place in UEFA Champions League qualifying only to be denied by a Sevilla goal scored against UD Almería in the third minute of added time.

Leading scorer: Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona (34)

Relegated: Real Valladolid CF, CD Tenerife, Xerez CD

Promoted: Real Sociedad de Fútbol, Levante UD, Hércules CF

Number: 99
A new record points total for a Liga season achieved by Barcelona, who surpassed the previous best of 92 set by a Madrid side that played four games more in 1996/97.

Quote
"We won't see the likes of these players again; they are truly exceptional. They have the ability to make the impossible look easy. To be honest we owe you one; we should have been in Madrid [contesting the UEFA Champions League final]."
Josep Guardiola addresses Barça fans after his team's Liga triumph

Last updated: 19/06/10 20.35CET

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