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Spanish Football year in review

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It is always difficult to review a calendar year in football since most nations hold competitions that tend to occur over portions of two years. Nevertheless, calendar year 2013 produced a number of highlights in Spanish Football.

Atletico Madrid won the Copa del Rey by beating Real Madrid 2-1 in the finals, after Real had managed to beat Barcelona 3-1 in the second match of their tie to reach the finals. Barcelona won the La Liga title with a 100 point performance that tallied just two losses and a +75 goal differential.

Despite having three of the eight quarterfinalists in the Champions League competition both Spanish Football giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid, were eliminated, if with some officiating help, in rather lopsided ties that saw Bayern Munich and Dortmund advance to an all-German final.

The Spanish National Football Team lost the finals of the Confederations Cup 0-3 to Brazil in what was another egregious officiating giveaway but not until the Spaniards handily beat three World Cup bound teams to reach those finals. In that vein the reigning World Cup champions qualified, undefeated, for Brazil 2014 only to be placed in a tough Group B with Holland, Chile and Australia.

Once again Spanish Football dominated the top player headlines with 8 of the 23 nominees for the Ballon d'Or plying their trade in Spain and two of the two finalists, co-favorites to win the trophy, also playing in Spain.

Individually, Lionel Messi, injured for the better part of the past few months, still had a spectacular year as did Barca's Alexis Sanchez and Neymar, Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa, currently La Liga's top scorer, and a Portuguese superstar who is ending the year, with performances over the past ninety days that makes him the favorite to unseat four-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi. Perhaps this will be Cristiano Ronaldo's year to take home that coveted trophy.

The 2013-14 La Liga year came to a close with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona sharing the top of the table with 46 points apiece with Real Madrid second at 41, while in the Copa del Rey these same three teams made it to the group of 16 with the two Madrid sides poised to meet in a potential semifinal while Barcelona seems set for the easy way through to the finals.

Come January 13, 2014 we will know who will be crowned the best player on the planet for 2013, and six months later we will know who, among those who labored to qualify in 2013, will rule the football world with a four-year spell of bragging rights. But as 2013 comes to a close what is remarkable to note is that Spanish Football is still among the strongest in the world and poised again to prove whether it is THE strongest.

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