The 2021/22 season started in Spain with many fans wondering ‘Is a league possible without Leo?’
The Argentine star did everything possible to continue at Barcelona, but the Financial Fair Play prevented an agreement between the club and the greatest player in its history, who will now wear the PSG jersey. Messi has been in Paris for a week and it is the first time in almost 20 years that Spanish football will not have Messi.
How was the last LaLiga campaign without La ‘Pulga’? This happened in the 2003/04 season, a season that had several highlights, other stars on the pitch and a big Brazilian surprise.
The ‘Galacticos’ of Real Madrid
Real Madrid entered the season as the defending champion, led by a constellation made up of Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo, Raúl and Roberto Carlos. Not satisfied, President Florentino Pérez signed Manchester United midfielder David Beckham for 37.5 million euros.
On the other hand, Fernando Hierro, Vicente del Bosque and Claude Makelele left the team in what turned out to be a very wrong bet on the part of the board.
The last season without Messi was also Ronaldinho’s first with the Blaugrana shirt. Hired for 32 million euros, the Brazilian donned the 10 shirt and was the star of the new project, led by president Joan Laporta and coach Frank Rijkaard.
In addition to him, names such as Mexican defender Rafa Márquez, Dutch midfielder Edgard Davids and Portuguese Ricardo Quaresma arrived. But the one who really turned heads was ‘Dinho’, who, with 22 goals and 11 assists, led Barça to the top places and won their first award for the best player in the world.
Madrid or Barcelona, LaLiga champion? No…
The Spanish championship was marked by a great change of course and that gave the title to Valencia, the last of the club in LaLiga. Real Madrid dominated the competition until the end of March, having lost just three of their opening 30 matches, and seemed destined to win to win the two-time championship.
Until Carlos Queiroz’s team felt the effects of fatigue. Because there were practically no good substitutes, Real Madrid was forced to place its main players in each game without giving them rest. The title escaped him in the last five days, when the club lost all its matches. Madrid finished in fourth place, almost out of the Champions League.
In the champion team, Valencia had as pillars the goalkeeper Cañizares, the defender Ayala, the midfielder Vicente and two Brazilians: the left-back Fábio Aurélio and the attacker Ricardo Oliveira. Spanish Rafa Benítez was Valencia’s coach and months later he would sit on the Liverpool bench.
Ronaldo, the ‘Phenomenon’, with 24 goals, was the top scorer in the Spanish Championship, but the great Brazilian figure was a Sevilla player.
Coming from São Paulo, Julio Baptista served as a third midfielder, sometimes as a second defensive midfielder and even as a right back. In Spain he won a much more offensive role and surprised a lot of people.
The carioca scored 20 goals in the season and aroused interest in the market. Julio Baptista stayed one more season at Sevilla until he was bought by Real Madrid and then played for Arsenal.
In addition to the ‘Beast’, a nickname he earned for his physical strength, Sevilla had names like full-back Dani Alves and young defender Sergio Ramos, then 17 years old.