As the 2010s come to an end, Goal casts its eye back to pick out the best players in Spain’s top flight over the past 10 years
GK: Jan Oblak
Arriving in La Liga in 2014 as the then most expensive goalkeeper in the league, Jan Oblak was viewed as the man to replace Thibaut Courtois for Atletico Madrid. It quickly became clear, however, that he would surpass the Belgium international in the Spanish capital.
The Slovenian shot-stopper has been named La Liga’s Best Goalkeeper for the past four seasons and is the most consistent keeper in Spain‘s top-flight – rarely making the type of errors number ones at Real Madrid or Barcelona have become prone to.
Oblak’s best domestic campaign came in 2015-16 when he conceded just 18 times across 38 league games, with his performances enough to see him selected in our team ahead of the likes of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Victor Valdes and Keylor Navas.
RB: Dani Alves
While his time in La Liga came to an abrupt end with Barcelona in 2016, Dani Alves had been a key part of the Catalans’ treble-winning side.
The Brazilian’s speed, technical ability and physical strength made him a massive asset for Barca down the right flank.
While he was named in the La Liga Team of the Year just once, Alves’ ability and influence was often under-rated and his recent form for Brazil is a reminder the 36-year-old was and is a special talent.
CB: Gerard Pique
From a fringe player at Manchester United to a star at Barcelona, Gerard Pique’s move to La Liga has paid off handsomely.
A rock in the Catalans’ backline and a rallying figure for the club, the Spanish defender has been key to Barca’s success over the past decade.
Pique has eight La Liga titles to his name and is a man that knows how to step up when his side needs him most.
CB: Sergio Ramos
Talking of stepping up, Sergio Ramos has become an expert at doing just that for Real Madrid. The veteran defender is not only ruthless at the back, but surprisingly clinical in attack.
Ramos’ ability in front of goal has proven regularly crucial for Los Blancos over the past decade with the Spaniard chipping in with 37 league goals since the start of the 2010-11 season.
In defence, he has become infamous for poor discipline and is the most carded player in La Liga history, but those ‘dark arts’ have also often proved decisive for his side.
Described by Diego Maradona as the third best player in La Liga behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in 2011, Marcelo has been a constant force for Real Madrid down the left flank over the past decade.
Boasting blistering speed and real skill on the ball, the Brazilian is an asset in defence and attack.
Since joining Los Blancos he has scored 25 league goals, stopped many more with last-ditch challenges and has made over 300 La Liga appearances.
Once described by Pep Guardiola as the brain behind Barcelona, Xavi is the perfect combination of skills and smarts.
With over 500 La Liga appearances to his name, the Spaniard made the competition his own and remained a key performer until 2015 before moving to Qatar.
In fact, in his last La Liga campaign as a 34-year-old, Xavi still managed to contribute eight assists. Proof that class is indeed permanent.
CM: Luka Modric
Midfielders don’t come much more complete or classy than Real Madrid’s Luka Modric.
With an unbelievable work rate, precise passing and capable of scoring long-range stunners, Modric is the type of player any manager would dream of having in their team as he edges out the likes of Sergio Busquets and Toni Kroos in our XI.
CM: Andres Iniesta
In November 2015, Andres Iniesta became just the third Barcelona player after Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho to be openly applauded at Santiago Bernabeu by Real Madrid fans.
The Spaniard scored and assisted in a brilliant performance that highlighted his supreme all-round ability.
Consistency is a key part of Iniesta’s game and you could count the number of poor La Liga performances he has put in on one hand.
“We’ve been playing together since we were 15 and I have never, ever seen him play badly,” Fernando Torres said of the World Cup winner in 2012, and there is a fair chance he was telling the truth.
FW: Lionel Messi
La Liga president Javier Tebas recently said he could not imagine the competition without Lionel Messi and it is not hard to see why.
The Barcelona star has continued to break league records this decade – currently La Liga’s highest ever goalscorer and the player with the most assists.
In the 2011-12 season Messi scored 50 league goals in an achievement that will likely never be repeated, and while some may still debate whether he is the best in the world, there is no arguing that he has been the best player in La Liga over the past 10 years.
Since the start of 2010, the Argentine has won seven league titles and been voted La Liga’s best player the same number of times.
FW: Cristiano Ronaldo
He may have only won La Liga itself twice, but Cristiano Ronaldo well and truly set the league alight.
Between 2010 and his departure to Serie A in 2018, Ronaldo scored 40+ league goals in a single season on three occasions, with his 48 strikes in the 2014-15 campaign the pick of a very impressive bunch.
With the second most La Liga goals to his name and the most hat-tricks in the competition, it is safe to say Ronaldo left his mark in the Spanish top-flight before his departure for Juventus.
FW: Antoine Griezmann
While he may have been operating in the shadows of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for much of the decade, what Antoine Griezmann has achieved in La Liga deserves some serious credit.
Griezmann managed a goal every second game in La Liga while at Atletico and now at Barcelona is set to reach even greater heights. He edges out new team-mate Luis Suarez, Neymar and Karim Benzema to join Messi and Ronaldo in attack.
Given the depth and quality of talent to have graced La Liga over the past 10 years, there are naturally a number of star names who narrowly missed out on selection in our team.
Sergio Busquets is perhaps the highest-profile omission, with the defensive midfielder having provided Barcelona with balance from the heart of the pitch throughout one of their most successful decades in terms of domestic dominance.
Toni Kroos might also feel hard done by having become one of the league’s great passers since his arrival at Real Madrid from Bayern Munich in 2014.
In defence, the likes of Diego Godin, Raphael Varane and Jordi Alba have all enjoyed fine decades without recognition here, while up front there is no place for either Luis Suarez or Karim Benzema despite being two of the world game’s deadliest strikers over the past 10 years.