La Liga ’21-22 Midway Point Awards

Written By Tyler Everett on January 6, 2022 - Last Updated on January 7, 2022

With the second half of the ’21-22 La Liga season set to begin this weekend, it’s time to hand out the High Press Soccer Midway Point Awards. Yes, Real Madrid is going to be well-represented here.

Other teams get more love in our Midway Point Best XI, but I’m not apologizing for rewarding several players from the team that is comfortably atop the table right now.

MVP: Real Madrid F Karim Benzema

Part of me wants to go outside the box a bit and give this to Vinicius, as Real Madrid’s struggles without him this past weekend certainly helped the young Brazilian’s case. Gerard Moreno has an interesting case as well. But this has to go to the veteran Frenchman, Karim Benzema. Real Madrid’s most reliable — or should I say “only,” at least until this season — forward has been an MVP-level performer for years. He never got the recognition, or the hardware, he deserved, however, because no matter what he did, a certain Argentine for Barcelona overshadowed him.

This year, Benzema leads La Liga with 15 goals, well ahead of second-place Juanmi from Real Betis (11). His seven assists are the second-most in Spain.

If Benzema maintains his current pace, that would mark four seasons in a row with at least 20 goals in La Liga. That scoring output alone would be plenty impressive. But let’s not overlook the fact he’s got a great shot at having double-digit assists to go along with a league-leading goal tally. We’ve wondered for years what would happen if someone emerged up top for Real Madrid to complement Benzema. So it should come as no surprise that with Vinicius enjoying a breakout season, Benzema is enjoying the best season of his stellar career.

Honorable Mention: Gerard Moreno

With eight goals and an assist – in just nine starts (!!) due to injuries – nobody’s done more with fewer minutes than the Spanish forward. With seven goals in four matches since returning from injury in December, Moreno and Villarreal — which has won its last six matches by a combined score of 25-6 — are playing as well as anyone right now.

Most Improved: Real Madrid F Vinicius

This is the biggest no-brainer on the list. In fact, Vincius has played so well that you could argue he deserves some MVP love ahead of Benzema. At the very least, though, when a guy who’s never scored more than three goals in an entire season explodes for 10 in just 19 matches, it makes him a lock for Most Improved. I’d even call Vinicius not just the most improved player in Spain, but in all of Europe.

It wasn’t that long ago that we knew Vinicius as the guy who created all the great opportunities he could seemingly never finish. He’s made that knock on him feel like ancient history in just half a season, and he’s a huge reason his team is a contender in both La Liga and the Champions League.

Honorable Mention: Barcelona midfielder Gavi

The 17-year-old has been an absolute revelation for Barcelona, and has also played beyond his years for the Spanish national team.

Best Newcomer: Real Madrid defender David Alaba

I swear I watch teams other than Real Madrid and Barcelona at least a little bit, but the list of summer transfers who have had major impacts on La Liga has been short. Alaba has been outstanding alongside Eder Militao on Real Madrid’s back line — so much so that, somehow, there’s been very little talk of how much his team misses Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.

Best Coach: Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui

Yes, I said I wouldn’t apologize for rewarding the likely winner of this league. Still, I couldn’t forgive myself if I gave every single superlative to Real Madrid. Sevilla gets a pass for their poor showing in Champions League play for keeping the title race in Spain alive, at least in theory, despite their top forward, Youssef En-Nesyri, missing most of the season so far. How many other teams in this league could lose just twice in 19 matches with their best scorer starting just five games??

Honorable Mention: Carlo Ancelotti

His work with Real Madrid has been impressive, and it will be hard to give the end-of-season award for this to anyone else, but part of the reason his team is in first is A) Barcelona and Atleti have sputtered and B) his best players haven’t missed much time. The latter is something that Real Madrid’s biggest competitors can’t say.

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