The 2015-16 season of the Spanish Primera Division went down to the wire as Barcelona and Real Madrid battled it out to the death, with the Blaugrana emerging victorious thanks to a victory against Granada. Los Blancos decided to make a managerial change midway through the campaign as Rafa Benitez was replaced by club legend, Zinedine Zidane, who would go on to win the Champions League in his first season as boss, even if he lost the title by a single point. It was a memorable season for Luis Suarez, who netted 40 goals and became the first player since 2009 to win the top goalscorer award who wasn’t Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Rayo, Getafe, and Levante, meanwhile, all suffered the fate of relegation. It was a tumultuous campaign for Valencia who employed television pundit Gary Neville for an ill-fated period as boss in December.
At the end of the 2015 season, Real Madrid opted to terminate the contract of Carlo Ancelotti despite the Italian having secured a Champions League title, a Copa del Rey title, the Club World Cup, and the European Super Cup during his tenure as boss. The decision to replace him with Benitez polarised the Blancos fans, with his alleged instinct to play defensive football. He would only last until January.
Pre-season saw the big guns flex their financial muscle, as Barca and Real Madrid spent a combined 136 million euros on new signings. However, their individual outlays were eclipsed by Atletico, who forked out 136 million euros on new arrivals, with the likes of Jackson Martinez and Yannick Carrasco joining the Colchoneros.
The return of Real Betis and the atmospheric Seville derby was welcomed with the Beticos gaining promotion alongside Las Palmas and Sporting Gijon.
In the previous campaign in 2014-15, Barcelona claimed the treble and started their defence of the league with a tough away fixture to Athletic Club, who had only recently demolished them 5-1 over two legs in the Spanish Super Cup. On this occasion, however, a single strike from Suarez sealed the 1-0 win. Atletico also won 1-0 against Las Palmas, while Madrid could only manage a goalless draw versus Sporting. Luis Enrique’s outfit would claim the top spot in 27 out of the 38 game weeks, including after the all-important last fixture.
Atletico Madrid were involved in the title race for the majority of the campaign also, but despite their huge transfer outlay, they eventually finished third - three points behind Barca.
The Blaugrana were fairly dominant throughout the campaign, and had the top goalscorer in Suarez, the top assist makers in Suarez and Messi with 16 each, and the longest unbeaten run.
Real Madrid earned the biggest home victory of the season which was also the highest-scoring match in La Liga. Five days before Christmas, they put 10 past Rayo in a 10-2 win with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema both netting hat-tricks.
It is a deserved title. The team has shown they can overcome difficult moments. I am really happy.Luis Enrique
Over the two glamour Clasico matches, both teams secured a win on their rival’s respective patches. Barca stunned Real Madrid with a 2-0 win at Santiago Bernabeu in November, but in April, with Zidane in charge instead of Benitez who lost his job in the January, gained some respect back with a 2-1 victory at the Camp Nou.
The 2015-16 season was certainly a successful one for the promoted sides Betis, Sporting, and Las Palmas, as all three retained their status in the Spanish Primera Division, with Sporting surviving by just one point in the end.
One of the more bizarre stories of the season could be found at the Mestalla, as Valencia opted to sign Gary Neville as manager despite having no managerial experience whatsoever. After being appointed in December, he would only last until March.
On the final day of the season, Cristiano Ronaldo would come up with the goods for Madrid as he bagged two against Deportivo to put the pressure on Barca, but it proved to be a comfortable finale for the Catalan outfit as they defeated Granada 3-0.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
MANAGER OF THE SEASON
Villarreal managed to claim the fourth Champions League qualifying sport and did so thanks to a sturdy defence. Enrique and Simeone will feel aggrieved at not coming out on top, but Marcelino worked wonder for the Yellow Submarine.
LUIS SUAREZ - 40 GOALS
The only player to win this award since 2009 that wasn’t Messi or Ronaldo. Quite the accomplishment
TEAM OF THE SEASON
GOAL OF THE SEASON
INAKI WILLIAMS’ strike comes out on top. Two touches, both incredible, with the second being a stunning volley into the top bag.
MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER
Porto to Atletico Madrid
KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON
Zidane, in his first league Clasico as boss, led Real Madrid to a 2-1 away victory against Barcelona at the Camp Nou which ended the Blaugrana’s 39-game unbeaten run at the title. The championship race was reignited, but Barca eventually held out...just.