Atletico Madrid and France forward Antoine Griezmann has taken home the award for the best player in La Liga last season. But the glitzy awards ceremony in Valencia was overshadowed with no Barcelona players attending after manager Luis Enrique was overlooked for the best coach award. Enrique was not even part of the nominee list despite guiding Barcelona to the title and the players reacted with a defiant protest. The squad were given a day off but despite that Carles Rexach, an ambassador for the club, collected their gongs on their behalf. It was a night of unprecedented success for Atletico – their manager Diego Simeone won the best coach award while Jan Oblak and Diego Godin were named best goalkeeper and defender respectively. Griezmann, such a vital figure for both club and country, scored 22 goals in 38 La Liga games last season, adding six assists without missing a game.
The mercurial talent also helped Atletico to the final of the Champions League where they were beaten on penalties by city rivals Real. He then took that form into Euro 2016 where he was top scorer with six goals, three clear of Cristiano Ronaldo. Griezmann’s impressive displays and goals fired France to the final of their tournament on home soil where they found only Ronaldo and Portugal one too good for them at the Stade de France. The other La Liga awards for the 2015-16 season – perhaps unsurprisingly – went to players from Barcelona and Real. Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi was named as best forward after the Catalan giants swept to another domestic title success. Real’s Croatian ace Luka Modric took home the best midfielder gong. It meant there was no recognition for either of Barcelona’s Neymar or Luis Suarez despite their heroics for the Nou Camp side last season. Team captains voted for the top players in each position, while a data analysis system generated the overall best player award. Barcelona won the Spanish league last season ahead of Real Madrid and Atletico and again look the team to beat in the current campaign. That said, Luis Enrique’s side currently sit in third place behind leaders Real and second placed Sevilla. Atletico, with three defeats so far, lie in fifth.