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Summary of 2023 in Spain: Atletico's Brilliant Play, Girona's Incredible Progress, and More

Spain in 2023 delighted us with many interesting events. Various clubs surprised or disappointed. It's important to remember the main moments, and this article discusses exactly that.

Team of the Year: Atletico Madrid

This award goes to Diego Simeone's team. Of course, the 'rojiblancos' didn't win any trophies in the calendar year, but the main thing is the reconstruction that the head coach is doing. Not so long ago, Atletico was associated with a pragmatic style and 'parking the bus', but now they score a lot, demonstrating confident and bright football that brings results.

Considering only 2023, it's hard to name a more effective team in Spain in terms of points and goals scored. They could have competed for the championship last season if it weren't for a poor first half of the campaign, and now, considering Barcelona's instability and Real's injury problems, winning the tournament is entirely possible.

It seemed that building an attractive attacking project would be impossible for the experienced coach, but he is gradually succeeding, which is quite admirable. Atletico has become more flexible, playing with three defenders that transform into five in defense. Some players have progressed, like Saul Niguez, who regained his excellent form, and upfront, there's the star duo of Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Morata. The Spanish forward needs trust to show his best, which he has received thanks to the excellent work of the coaching staff.
They need to continue performing consistently and try to win trophies. Perhaps their current style will bring them success very soon.

Progress of the Year: Girona

Hardly anyone could have imagined that Michel's team would show such results last spring. After an excellent transfer of Viktor Tsygankov and a decent final phase of the season, it was interesting to watch the 'red-and-whites', but summer sales and resources suggested that if they were to surprise anyone, it would be at most by getting into the European cups. This campaign, we see their ambitions are much higher. Currently, they are in an unexpected second place, with the same number of points as Real.

Excellent pressing and counter-pressing, quality play in transition phases, good interaction of all players, and serious reinforcements like Artem Dovbyk, who helps in the buildup and scores crucial goals. Overall, this allows them to play versatile football, not a fluke due to the realization of the current coach's ideas.

Talking about Viktor Tsygankov and Artem Dovbyk separately, both Ukrainian representatives prove the thesis about the success of their compatriots in top European leagues. As some media suggest, they might soon be in for a promotion.
The real fairy tale of this team continues. It will be very interesting to see if they can compete for a trophy over the course of the campaign.

Regression of the Year: Barcelona / Sevilla

Barcelona won the Spanish championship, but questions about the quality of their play arose in the second half of last season. There were matches where Xavi's team scored minimal goals or couldn't score at all. Problems continued this campaign, with a slump in results and form for Robert Lewandowski. If the defeat to Real in El Clasico could somehow be justified by the strength of the opponent, then the home failure against Girona clearly shows that something needs to change.

It's not certain that the current head coach will be able to stay in his position, so it's necessary to start stabilizing performances in the second half of the campaign. First of all, in positional attack, where a clearer structure needs to be built, as positional defense looks well-organized.

Additionally, financial problems haven't gone away. They managed to make high-profile signings in previous summer transfer windows, but considering the desire to create a Super League in the future and possible exclusion from the Champions League due to financial fair play, they need to try to earn money by winning trophies or regularly playing at a high stage in the main European cup.

Right now, there is a deterioration in performances, which considering the competition in La Liga could theoretically lead to fighting for prestige in the top four, not winning the tournament. We will observe and assess the transformation of the Spanish champion.

Sevilla was included in this block last year, and actually, little has changed since then. The main news was the team's victory in the Europa League. After dismissing Julen Lopetegui and the unjustified return of Jorge Sampaoli, they eventually invited Jose Luis Mendilibar, which turned out to be a great decision. His work allowed the team to get their game together and triumph in the second European cup, leading to a Champions League spot.

The pleasant results end there. A serious failure in the group stage, unsuccessful performances in the championship, which probably won't allow keeping all leaders and returning to usual realities.

Stability of the Year: Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad has been appealing for many seasons under the leadership of Imanol Alguacil. During his tenure, apart from other numerous achievements, they managed to return to the Champions League, and in the championship, the Basque team traditionally creates problems thanks to their style and ideas. They don't have huge resources, but quality selection and a smart structure allow them to be at the top of the championship, consistently performing well in European cups. It's quite pleasant to observe their progress, which can serve as a recipe for success for other representatives in the Spanish championship.
This campaign, the team from San Sebastian continues to look traditionally good. It will be interesting to see if they can secure a place in the top four.

Reconstruction of the Year: Real Madrid

Last summer, the Spanish giant sold Karim Benzema to Al-Ittihad, so they are gradually looking for ways to compensate for the transfer of the star forward. Many expected to see Kylian Mbappe, but they had to enter the new season with Joselu in this position, changing the roles of some players, like Jude Bellingham and Rodrigo. This is currently bringing results.

Carlo Ancelotti's team is the leader of La Liga, advanced from the Champions League group stage, so everything is working as it should so far. The only problem is injuries that might force them to buy someone in the winter transfer market, but even if they can't acquire anyone and strengthen their squad, they can expect transfers of several high-profile players in the next window. Considering the situation in Barcelona and some nuances in competitors, there is an opportunity to successfully complete an important stage of generational change that started a few years ago. Real proves the effectiveness of this almost every campaign.

Player of the Year: Antoine Griezmann

The French player made significant progress in the calendar year 2023. He managed to regain the form he previously demonstrated at Atletico Madrid. 10+10 in the second half of last season, 16+2 now, and in addition, quality and solid actions in defense, allowing the team to be among the leaders of the Spanish championship, demonstrating excellent attacking style.

Young Player of the Year: Jude Bellingham

The debut of the English player at Real was unexpected because he scored incredible points of effectiveness thanks to his new role, which coach Carlo Ancelotti picked for him. The midfielder not only helps in defense but also tries to efficiently run into the opponent's penalty area and attempt to score. He has many very important goals, for example, a brace against Barcelona, which allowed defeating the main competitor. His self-confidence, considering the not-so-extensive experience at such a level, is truly an incredible skill.

If Jude Bellingham continues to demonstrate similar figures, we may see a new superstar in European football, competing with other stars of top championships. Currently, this seems like a realistic task.

Coach of the Year: Carlo Ancelotti

Real Madrid is undergoing a minor reconstruction, so it's necessary to fine-tune this process as much as possible, which the coaching staff is doing. Considering the club's current problems, it's going quite well. The main change is the tactical transition to 4-4-2 with a new role for last summer's important transfer to the Madrid team. Additionally, other players are also showing good performances.

These significant arguments allow us to name a quite obvious candidate. There were other serious contenders, but it's necessary to consider the main regular achievements, considering tactical experiments and results.