Premier League XI v La Liga XI - 2016/17 edition

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The new La Liga campaign gets underway this evening, as Malaga take on Osasuna and Deportivo go head-to-head with Eibar.

Barcelona begin their defence of their La Liga crown against Real Betis on Saturday afternoon while Real Madrid, the reigning European champions, travel to Anoeta to play Real Sociedad.

Many of the world’s elite players ply their trade in Spain’s top division, but how does the best 2016-17 La Liga XI compare to the Premier League’s?


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We’ve compiled two XIs - one for both leagues - comprised of the best players in each position, plus honourable mentions for those who narrowly missed out.

Scroll down to see the XIs and don’t forget to leave a comment in the box at the bottom of the page.

Premier League XI

Goalkeeper: David de Gea

Honourable mention: Thibaut Courtois

David de Gea could - and perhaps should - have been in the La Liga XI had Real Madrid and Manchester United finalised negotiations before the 2015 summer transfer window closed.

The Spain international, arguably the best goalkeeper in the world at present, was minutes away from joining Los Blancos but the deadline was missed and he ended up staying with the Red Devils.

There are many fine ‘keepers in the Premier League, but De Gea is easily the best of the bunch.

Right-back: Hector Bellerin

Honourable mention: Kyle Walker

In truth, there isn’t a standout right-back in the Premier League at the moment.

Pablo Zabaleta was the man for a few years but is now in decline, while Hector Bellerin is improving all the time.

The Spanish full-back was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year last season - the only Arsenal player to make the XI.

Centre-back: Chris Smalling

Honourable mention: Laurent Koscielny

Once much-maligned, the turning point for Chris Smalling came on 2 November 2015, when he was sent off against Manchester City.

Since then, the England international has barely put a foot wrong. Still underrated by some.

Centre-back: Toby Alderweireld

Honourable mention: John Terry

The signing of Toby Alderweireld was a brilliant bit of business by Mauricio Pochettino, who brought the Belgium international to Tottenham from Atletico Madrid last summer following an impressive loan spell with Southampton.

A rock at the heart of the Spurs defence, Alderweireld gets into this XI ahead of veteran centre-back John Terry.

Left-back: Luke Shaw

Honourable mention: Cesar Azpilicueta

Luke Shaw has the potential to become the best left-back in Europe, never mind the Premier League.

The 21-year-old missed almost the entire 2015-16 campaign following an awful leg break in a Champions League match against PSV Eindhoven but is now back in action and has picked up from where he left off.

Midfield: N’Golo Kante

Honourable mention: Dele Alli

N’Golo Kante was nigh-on perfect for Leicester City last season and it was no surprise when Chelsea snapped up the indefatigable French midfielder for £32 million this summer.

The 25-year-old is on the verge of establishing his reputation as one of Europe’s best holding midfielders.

Midfield: Paul Pogba

Honourable mention: Mousa Dembele

Paul Pogba hasn’t yet played a single minute of Premier League football on his return to Manchester United following his record-breaking transfer from Juventus, but it’s safe to assume he’ll be a huge hit in England’s top flight once he gets going.

The Frenchman, now the most expensive footballer of all time, is one of the few genuinely world-class players plying his trade in the Premier League.

Left-wing: Eden Hazard

Honourable mention: Philippe Coutinho

It would be easy to have left Eden Hazard out of this XI in favour of Philippe Coutinho or Mesut Ozil after what happened last season. The Belgium international was inexplicably below-par for almost the entire campaign.

Nevertheless we mustn’t forget that Hazard won the PFA Premier League Player of the Year award at the end of the previous season - and deservedly so - following a magnificent campaign with Chelsea.

With a goal on his first league appearance this season, expect Hazard to get back to his world-class best over the coming weeks and months.

Right-wing: Kevin de Bruyne

Honourable mention: Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez is an outstanding footballer who deserved his Player of the Year award last season and there’s no doubt he could play for a bigger club than Leicester City, but Kevin de Bruyne arguably has a little more to his all-round game than the Algerian.

Fast, strong, direct, equipped with an eye for goal and the ability to unlock a defence with a single pass, De Bruyne will continue to flourish under the management of Pep Guardiola.

Striker: Sergio Aguero

Honourable mention: Alexis Sanchez

Sergio Aguero could play for any club in world football, he’s that good.

The Argentina international, when fit, is a defender’s worst nightmare.

Striker: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Honourable mention: Harry Kane

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has finally arrived in the Premier League and is currently busy making his mark with Manchester United, despite his advancing years.

The 34-year-old is pure box office and his mere presence increases the overall quality and appeal of England’s top division.

La Liga XI

Goalkeeper: Jan Oblak

Honourable mention: Keylor Navas

Atletico Madrid feared they’d struggle to replace the exceptional Thibaut Courtois after the Belgian returned to Chelsea in 2014 following three seasons on loan at the Vicente Calderon, but in Jan Oblak they recruited a more than capable replacement.

The 23-year-old picked up the Zamora trophy last season after conceding just 18 goals in 38 La Liga matches.

Right-back: Dani Carvajal

Honourable mention: Juanfran

Dani Alves spent 14 years in La Liga and, for much of that time, was by far and away the best right-back in Spain.

The Brazilian has now left Barcelona for Juventus and so the title of Spain’s best right-back goes to Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal, who gets in ahead of Atletico Madrid’s consistent full-back Juanfran.

Centre-back: Gerard Pique

Honourable mention: Sergio Ramos

Gerard Pique has moments where he loses his focus but, for the most part, has been truly excellent for Barcelona since returning to the Camp Nou from Manchester United in 2008.

The Catalan gets into this XI ahead of Sergio Ramos who, despite his immense quality and knack of producing the goods for Real Madrid when they need him most, often lets himself and his club down with his dreadful disciplinary record.

Centre-back: Diego Godin

Honourable mention: Pepe

Pepe is another whose poor temperament lets him down on occasions, so the other centre-back spot goes to Atletico’s Diego Godin.

The Uruguayan has arguably been the best central defender in world football over the past two or three seasons.

Left-back: Filipe Luis

Honourable mention: Marcelo

Chelsea fans never really saw the best of Filipe Luis, who returned to Atleti last season following an underwhelming campaign at Stamford Bridge.

The Brazilian full-back is superb from a defensive point of view and is also happy to venture into the opposition’s half of the pitch when required.

Midfield: Sergio Busquets

Honourable mention: Koke

Sergio Busquets is probably the best central midfielder on the planet - and has been for a good few years now.

The Spanish star, bizarrely still underrated by some, very rarely gives away possession and is a vital cog in the Barcelona system.

Midfield: Luka Modric

Honourable mention: Toni Kroos

Luka Modric is only 5ft 9in tall and looks like a strong breeze would knock him off his feet, but what a footballer.

Back in December 2012, midway through his debut campaign at Real Madrid, the Croatian was voted by readers of the Spanish newspaper Marca as La Liga’s worst signing along with Barcelona’s Alex Song.

How utterly crazy does that sound today?!

Left-wing: Cristiano Ronaldo

Honourable mention: Neymar

Cristiano Ronaldo has exceeded all expectations - and they were pretty high to begin with, considering he was signed for a world-record fee - since joining Real Madrid from Manchester United in the summer of 2009.

The Portuguese superstar has scored a mind-blowing 260 goals in 236 matches in La Liga - an average of 1.102 goals-per-game - and will forever be remembered as one of the league’s legendary players when he calls time on his remarkable career.

Playmaker: Lionel Messi

Honourable mention: Antoine Griezmann

The greatest. No more words are necessary for Barcelona’s No. 10.

Right-wing: Gareth Bale

Honourable mention: Saul Niguez

It’s sometimes hard not to feel like Gareth Bale could do more for Real Madrid, but it’s difficult for the Welshman with Cristiano in the same team.

Bale has scored 47 goals in 81 league matches for Los Blancos and will soon become the Spanish giant’s main man with his Portuguese teammate now in his early 30s.

Striker: Luis Suarez

Honourable mention: Karim Benzema

Barcelona were criticised for signing Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan was involved in the third biting incident of his career during the 2014 World Cup finals, but nobody is talking about the striker’s lack of discipline these days.

Suarez has behaved impeccable at the Camp Nou and has repaid Barça for the faith they showed in him - and the £75 million they paid Liverpool for his services two years ago - by scoring 56 goals in 62 league matches.

Winning team

Sorry Premier League, but La Liga is the clear winner.

How would you change either the Premier League or La Liga XIs? Have your say by leaving a comment below.

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