The 2011-2012 season came and went with our beloved Barça playing for six cups. In the end, they succeeded in winning four out of six competitions and ended the season on a positive note when they captured the Copa del Rey. So, as we enjoy the summer break before another season is upon us, it’s time to hand out the awards.
Another successful season has come and gone with FC Barcelona continuing to add more trophies to the trophy case under Pep Guardiola. Sadly, this was the first time in the Guardiola era that the team did not capture the league title. They also came close to making it to a second straight Champions League final. Nevertheless, this season was a successful one that saw the team win 4 out of 6 competitions.
The season started off with the team coming from a grueling off-season tour and facing Real Madrid in the Super Copa. They played to a 2-2 draw in the Bernabéu in the first leg before playing in a memorable 3-2 second leg victory with Messi grabbing the game winner minutes from the final whistle to claim its first title of the season. Barça then captured their second title when they defeated Porto in the UEFA Super Cup 2-0 with Messi scoring the first and setting up the second. The best moment was when the dream final of Barça v Santos took place in the FIFA Club World Cup Final to which Barça destroyed their South American opponents 4-0 with Messi scoring a brace.
The first half of the season was great but the extra games took its toll on the team and their second half of the season saw them fight for a treble as they chased Real Madrid for the league crown before losing at home to them to relinquish the league crown to their arch rivals. Barça made it to the Copa del Rey final for the third time in four years but fell short of making it to consecutive Champions League titles when they were eliminated by Chelsea in the Semi-Finals. Barça though would end the season on a positive when they defeated Athletic Bilbao with Messi once again scoring in the final. So, as we enjoy the summer break before another season is upon us, it’s time to hand out the awards.
This was a no-brainer. 50 league goals and top scorer in Spanish league; top scorer in Champions League with 14 goals; scored in all six competitions – second player to do so since Pedro did it; and 73 goals in all competitions with 29 assists in all competitions. That is the type of careers you get on a video game. Messi has entertained us with another amazing season where you know he earned the right to win a fourth Golden Ball. Messi practically carried his team on his own while his teammates all took turns picking up injuries and in the end, he was involved in over 100 goals for the club. He became the club’s all-time scorer and the sky’s the limit for the 24 year old virtuoso of the Blaugrana.
Wow, there were so many to pick from. Puyol’s header against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey? Villa’s goal in the first leg of the Super Copa against Real Madrid? Iniesta’s goal against Plzen in the Champions League? Dani Alves’s rocket against Real Madrid? Cesc’s header against Bilbao? Messi’s free kick against Atletico Madrid?
There are far too many choices but for me, Messi’s game winner against Real Madrid in the Super Copa that clinched it for me. That was an epic battle that Messi clinched with a goal that came in the final minutes that caused the Camp Nou to erupt and continue to show Messi has been so clutch for this team over the years. A beautiful cross from Adriano and Messi volleyed the ball, in mid flight, past Casillas in the dying minutes to clinch the Supercopa.
Here is a video of some of the best goals the team scored this year.
This one will also be up for debate but I have to go back to the same game that I picked for best goal. Second leg of the Super Copa and I thought Pique’s back heel pass to Messi during a corner kick that allowed Barça to take a 2-1 lead was the one assist that stood out for me this season. It was so unexpected from the player least likely to impress us with a moment of brilliance and then to top it off, the image of Messi scoring while Ronaldo is on his knees was priceless.
Relax; it’s not going to be three in a row for the second leg of the Super Copa. Sure, that 3-2 game was memorable. However, the best game of the year had to be the one sided demolition of Santos in the FIFA Club World Cup. The best from Europe against the best from South America. Messi v Neymar. Well, it was a one sided match that solidified Barça’s title as the best in the world with a trophy and patch to go with it. The game was over by halftime thanks to a 3-0 score after goals from Messi, Xavi and Cesc.
Cesc and Alexis were the only two transfers for this season. Cesc had an amazing first half and then fizzled in the second half while Alexis was injured on and off for most of the season. So technically, both did not have excellent seasons but Alexis wins this by the fact that he scored in some big games, such as both league Clásicos and still gave it his best while playing hurt.
Here's hoping that after a season under belt, the Chilean international will become a bigger scoring threat for the club.
Most Improved Player:
Mascherano was signed last season to help provide depth for the defensive midfield position. None of us expected him to be played in the back line but that’s what exactly what happened. Mascherano started in the grueling Clásico against Madrid such as the Copa del Rey Final and the Champions League final against Manchester United. He filled in superbly for the injured Puyol and it was no longer a problem with fans to see him this season play as a center back again, even when it was 3-4-3. True, he did have some moments near the end of the season that we all wish never happened but to me, he was still the most improved player this season. We no longer feared him as the man who was a red card waiting to happen, but became one of those players you had confidence in.
Best Youth Player:
Tello and Cuenca both the new surprises this season. Both were promoted because of all the injuries that the team encountered regarding their forwards. Both had their great moments but Cuenca really impressed me a lot while Tello seemed better suited to come in when the game was already over and punish a tired defense. Both have the potential to be a big piece of the puzzle next season but that will depend if we suffer another round of injuries to our men up front not named Messi.
Most Disappointingn Player:
This was the toughest one to do. Although we saw this team win 4 out of 6 competitions, many players did not really play to the level we were accustomed to seeing. Only Messi, Iniesta and Puyol were the only guys that played superb when healthy. Most of the other players regressed a bit. Now obviously some were affected by the fatigue or by the injuries such as Xavi or just inexcusable mistakes such as Pique and Valdés, which affected their performances. Nevertheless, if there was one player who was the biggest disappointment had to be Cesc. He was signed to be the one to give Xavi and Iniesta a breather but down the stretch, he was the one on the bench and sometimes behind Thiago in the depth chart.
Cesc was great in the first half of the season where he came off the bench and helped the team. He scored a great header goal in San Mames against Bilbao and also scored the insurance goals in the UEFA Super Cup, against Real Madrid in the Bernabéu and in the FIFA Club World Cup Final against Santos. However, all those games were in 2011. He scored 17 goals in all competitions but only 4 goals in the second half of the season with his last league goal coming against Espanyol in January. The other three goals were in the Copa del Rey against Osasuna with a brace and then against Valencia in second leg of the semi-finals back in early February. After that game, Cesc went on an incredible dry run until he scored for Spain today. Three months and Cesc could not find the back of the net, affected the team’s performance which at times forced to be an unused substitute or being replaced in the second half.
Hopefully he will be ready to step up and be the player we all thought he would be now that he has had a season under his belt and with a new manager. 2011-2012 had its share of the good, the bad and the ugly but it was a successful one nevertheless and here’s hoping that next season will be even better where the awards will be less harsh on some of the players.
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