La Liga Loca’s alternative XI

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To celebrate the end of the first half of the latest campaign of craziness in La Liga, the blog has decided to display a thumping lack of originality and imagination with an alternative XI of the season so far.

A ‘best-of’ would be a fairly simple task - Barcelona with maybe David Villa squeezed in. And Raúl, of course.

But the blog wants to take a time-out to salute the little guy of La Liga - no, not Xavi - by naming a sensational side of unsung heroes that would probably finish mid-table but have caught the blog’s beady eye over the past five months.

There are bigger, better and more deserving cases, no doubt - and La Liga Loca would love to hear all about them. But for now...

Goalkeeper - Renan (Valencia)

By no means the best keeper in La Liga this season - or even in the top five - but deserving of a spot between the sticks simply because he has been, well, fairly anonymous. No great foul-ups, no wavy tentacles. Just solid goalkeeping over all 19 games. And that’s no mean feat considering the dramas over the past few years with Cañizares and Hildebrand.

Renan: Consistently out of the headlines

Left back - Felipe Luis (Deportivo)

A flying Brazilian full-back that the blog has thought was more than a little handy since he escaped the clutches of the Madrid cantera to head oop north to Galicia. There are better full-backs kicking about, but few who give as much to the cause as the flowing-locked Felipe.

Centre back - Sebastian Squillaci (Sevilla)

Sevilla may not be as easy on the eye as they used to be - in fact, they’re horrible - but the blog must doff its cap and admit that they are darned hard to break down these days. And that’s thanks in part to this French international. Squillaci snuck into Sevilla from Lyon without too much fuss and bother, and has helped his side to the second best defensive record in La Primera.

Centre back - Alberto Lopo (Deportivo)

Recommended by a friend to La Liga Loca as being a ‘lantern-jawed psychopath’, and therefore worthy of inclusion. Lopo is ensuring that Depor’s fine back four can compensate for the still slightly rubbish front line.

Right Back - Adoni Iraola (Athletic Bilbao)

Athletic have not had a player coveted by the big guns for a while now. But the attention Iraola is attracting looks like changing this sorry situation. Just as handy in both boxes - as it were - the battling Basque full-back’s solid performances and sexy set-piece specialities saw a call-up and appearance for the Spanish squad last year.

Left Midfield - Eliseu (Málaga)

A ridiculously fast Portuguese winger that first caught the attention of those watching the game in Spain with a wondrous display in 4-0 rollicking of Recreativo. One of the finds of the season, no doubt.

Central Midfield - Emaná (Betis)

Still the blog’s pound for pound, tub-thumping, signing of the season. Betis are a very good side with the powerful, goal-getting, short-tempered midfielder on the pitch. And a very average one without him. With seven league goals, Emaná has already managed the tally he totalled with Toulouse last season.

Emaná: Signing of the season so far?

Central Midfield - Eugen Polanski (Getafe)

Another new boy to La Liga, the Polish uber-performer has been the one of the few consistent players for a hit-and-miss Getafe side this season. There are better footballers in his position, but Polanski has always impressed the difficult-to-please blog when it has seen him.

Right Midfield - Duda (Málaga)

Málaga seem to have given the Portuguese pugilist a free role, so La Liga Loca will too. Duda went back to Málaga after an unsuccessful spell with Sevilla, and has flourished ever since.

Forward - Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao)

Another Athletic player that forced his way into the Spanish squad having finally shrugged off the ‘you’re bollocks!’ cries from the boo boys who had always felt ‘el Rubio’ was more than a little pants. Still prone to the odd gaffe, Llorente makes the cut as the most improved player in La Primera so far this year.

Forward - Juan Mata (Valencia)

Another one who got away for Real Madrid. Calderón and co could not promise Mata the money or opportunities that his talent deserved - so he took the decision to join the Mestalla madhouse. And he has built on a decent campaign last year with more sterling performances, despite playing for much of the campaign in an unfavoured right wing position.

Mata: "Please let me play up front..."

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