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LaLiga At Halfway: Stats Perform’s Midseason Awards

 

Atlético Madrid’s 2-1 win away at Eibar on Matchday 19 marked the rough midway point of the 2020-21 LaLiga season. The condensed calendar has meant that some teams have played 20 games, most have played 19 and just two have played 18.  But those are semantics, we’ve seen enough in the first-half of the season to hand out some midseason awards, from the best players to the most impressive youngsters.

By: Luis Ledesma, Javier Moreno, Albert Valor, Vanessa Marina, Oliver Hopkins

Players of the season:

5. Dani Parejo. Villarreal

After nine seasons at Valencia, Dani Parejo is enjoying life in the yellow of Villarreal. The midfielder has been at the heart of Unai Emery’s ‘Yellow Submarine’ conducting proceedings in the centre of the park. He’s made the most passes of any player this season (1,290) and has a success rate of 91%. In fact, Parejo has been instrumental in launching attacks for his side. He’s started 21 sequences leading to a shot at goal so far this campaign, a joint-high (tied with Emerson at Real Betis) and the cumulative Expected Goals value of those sequences he starts is worth 2.8 xG, the second-highest in the league.

4. Jan Oblak. Atlético de Madrid

Oblak once against been an absolute colossus for Atletico this season. He’s part of an Atleti backline that’s conceded just eight goals in 18 games so far (0.44) a game. That’s by far the lowest figure across Europe’s top five leagues (PSG are next with 11). Oblak’s got the best save percentage in LaLiga (85%) and according to our xGOT model he’s prevented 5.8 goals for his side already. Only Elche stopped Edgar Badia has prevented more (6.5).

3. Iago Aspas. Celta Vigo. 

With nine goals and six assists already, Iago Aspas has been involved in 63% of Celta de Vigo’s goals in the first 19 games of the season (15 of 24), more than any other player in his team. The player from Moaña has been the top assister in the first half of the season (6), ranks second with the most chances created (37) and this season has become the all-time top scorer for Celta after surpassing Manuel Hermida (104).

2. Lionel Messi. Barcelona. 

For all the rumours about his discontent at the club, for all the whispers he wants out, Lionel Messi is obviously still the most important player for the Catalan side. The Argentinian attacker has 11 goals and two assists to his name in the first half of the season and has rained down a whopping 100 shots so far, almost double the number of Nabil Fekir in second place (55), accounting for almost a third of all of his team’s shots. He’s everywhere for his side, being involved in 149 open play sequences ending in a shot, the highest figure by some margin in the league.

1. Luis Suarez. Atlético de Madrid.

The Uruguayan player has starred as one of the most notable transfers this summer and has quickly become the focal point of Atlético Madrid’s attack under Simeone. He’s tied as top scorer in LaLiga with Youssef En-Nesyri of Sevilla (12 each) and boasts a clinical 26% shot conversion rate.

Manager Of The Season

 

3. Julen Lopetegui. Sevilla.

After winning the Europa League in August, Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla have kicked on and currently sit fourth in the table with 36 points. Sevilla have been tough to beat away from home (W5 D2 L3) and boast the second-best defensive record with 16 goals conceded (tied with Real Madrid). European qualification at a minimum will be Lopetegui’s expectation from here.

2. Unai Emery. Villarreal. 

Unai Emery has returned to LaLiga four years after leaving to take charge of Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine sit fifth after 20 games and have lost only twice in the league this season. Only Atlético (1) have lost fewer matches than Emery’s side. Two defeats is also the lowest number of losses for Villarreal in a LaLiga campaign after their first 20 games. Turning draws into victories (10 draws so far, a joint league-high) will be key for Villarreal as they look to launch an attack on the summit.

1. Diego Simeone. Atlético De Madrid

Diego Simeone has already made history at Atlético Madrid with his 2013-14 league victory and this season his side are looking to once again break the Barca-Real duopoly. After 18 games, they’ve opened up a seven-point led against city-rivals Real, and that’s with a game in hand. A combination of Europe’s best defence, and a firing Luis Suarez have propelled Atleti to the top, and they look strong favourites for the title.

Young Player of the Season Shortlist:

Selection criteria: all players born after 2000.

1. Álvaro Fernández. Huesca.

Born in 1998, Huesca’s Álvaro Fernández is the youngest goalkeeper to play at least nine games by this stage in the competition. He has made 23 saves in those nine appearances with a 65% save rate, far higher than the keeper he replaced, Andrés Fernandez (58%).

2. Pedri. FC Barcelona.

In December 2020, Pedri became the third-youngest Barcelona player to assist a goal in LaLiga since the 1998-99 season (aged 18 years, 27 days). Only Ansu Fati (16y, 318d) & Bojan (17y, 180d) have assisted a goal younger.

3.Yunus Musah, Valencia

In September 2020, aged 17 years and 289 days, Yunus Musah became the youngest non-Spanish player to play for Valencia in LaLiga in the 21st century and in November 2020, he became the youngest player to score for them in LaLiga in this century (17 years, 338 days).

4. Ansu Fati. FC Barcelona.

He may have been injured since November, but Ansu Fati is still Barca’s third-highest goalscorer this season with four goals.

5. Ander Barrenetxea. Real Sociedad.

Back in December 2018, Real Sociedad’s Ander Barrenetxea became the first player born in the 21st century to play in LaLiga (16 years, 359 days). He’s become a staple of Sociedad’s side, playing 17 games already this season, with two goals to his name.

6. Rodrygo. Real Madrid.

Rodrygo Goes has failed to score in LaLiga 2020-21 so far but he has provided four assists, more than any other player born in the 21st Century.

Goal of the Season:

Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Real Valladolid produced arguably the goal of the season so far. It was of course, scored by the best player in the competition’s history, Lionel Messi. In doing so, Messi broke Pele’s all-time scoring milestone for their clubs by netting his 644th career goal in Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Valladolid on Tuesday. Messi achieved the feat in the 65th minute, helped by 18-year-old Pedro “Pedri” Gonzalez

That goal came after an uninterrupted sequence of 20 consecutive passes, the highest number of passes leading to a goal this season.