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Season review: Spain

Published: Monday 1 June 2009, 18.07CET
Josep Guardiola came in for some early criticism but there are only plaudits now after leading FC Barcelona to an unprecedented treble of Liga, UEFA Champions League and Copa del Rey triumphs in his first year in charge.
by Paul Bryan
from Madrid
Season review: Spain
Barcelona accept the league trophy four days before lifting the European Champion Clubs' Cup ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 1 June 2009, 18.07CET

Season review: Spain

Josep Guardiola came in for some early criticism but there are only plaudits now after leading FC Barcelona to an unprecedented treble of Liga, UEFA Champions League and Copa del Rey triumphs in his first year in charge.

Josep Guardiola came in for some early-season criticism as his FC Barcelona side picked up just one point from their opening fixtures against newly promoted Numancia CF and Real Racing Club. There are only plaudits now, though, after the coach, in his first term in charge of a senior club, led Barcelona to an unprecedented treble of Liga, UEFA Champions League and Copa del Rey triumphs.

Champions: FC Barcelona
A stunning 6-2 win at Real Madrid CF on 2 May effectively sealed Barcelona's 19th Liga triumph in Josep Guardiola's debut season in charge. For the majority of the campaign the Azulgrana outscored and outplayed their opponents and ended with a nine-point advantage over nearest challengers Madrid having totalled 105 goals.

Cup final: FC Barcelona 4-1 Athletic Club Bilbao
Barça landed their 25th Copa del Rey after a convincing second-half display against Athletic at the Mestalla. Gaizka Toquero headed Los Leones into an early lead but Yaya Touré's low drive just after the half-hour mark levelled proceedings. Barcelona found their rhythm after the break with goals from Lionel Messi, Bojan Krkić and Xavi Hernández killing off Athletic's challenge.

European places
FC Barcelona – UEFA Champions League, group stage
Real Madrid CF – UEFA Champions League, group stage
Sevilla FC – UEFA Champions League, group stage
Club Atlético de Madrid – UEFA Champions League, play-off
Villarreal CF – UEFA Europa League, play-off
Valencia CF – UEFA Europa League, play-off
Athletic Club Bilbao – UEFA Europa League, third qualifying round

Player of the Year: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
A key component of Barça's treble-winning season, Messi's on-field magic combined with 23 Liga goals plus a further six en route to Copa del Rey glory made the Argentinian the most feared player in Spain. The 21-year-old further delighted fans of the Camp Nou outfit this season by stating if it were up to him, he would spent his whole career there.

One to watch: Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona)
At just 22, Piqué is already being hailed as one of Liga's finest central defenders. He displayed immense confidence after returning to the club of his schoolboy days from Manchester United FC at the beginning of the season and excelled for Spain during his first appearances for the senior international side.

Surprise package: Málaga CF
Tipped as relegation strugglers at the beginning of the season, Antonio Tapia's side stunned even their own supporters when at one point the men in blue and white reached fifth in the standings and looked to be pushing for a UEFA Champions League place. Some disappointing results in the final straight, however, meant the team finished outside the European places in eighth.

Leading scorer: Diego Forlán, Club Atlético de Madrid (32)

Number: 50
The number of points gained by Barça at the halfway stage of the season, a new Liga record.

Quote
"I don't know if we're the best team in the world. Sure, we're the team that's had the best year, but the best in the world? I'm also completely certain that I'm not the best coach in the world because if I were to do things over again in the same way the results may have been different."
Josep Guardiola, Barcelona coach.

Last updated: 02/06/09 11.09CET

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