It is undeniable that 2015 was a phenomenal year for Barcelona. With the arrival of coach Luis Enrique, important new players like goalkeeper Ter Stegen and midfielder Rakitic and especially the formation of the 'MSN' trio with Luis Suárez joining the club, the Blaugranes returned to world football dominance, scoring nearly 190 goals and winning five trophies, including the second Treble, in what was the second-most successful year in the club's history.
Without a doubt, that kind of year deserves recognition, and this Monday's FIFA Gala is certain to award the Catalan giants plenty of silverware for their amazing performances. Of course, the highlight of the Gala is the Golden Ball Award, given to the best player of calendar year 2015, and that one has a clear favorite: Barça superstar Lionel Messi. But this is not the only award featuring Blaugrana members. Here's a look at all categories involving the Catalans' biggest stars.
2015 Ballon D'OR
Featured Barcelona players: Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr.
This is the easiest choice of all. Messi is the clear favorite and already the winner in everybody's minds (except Cristiano Ronaldo's, of course). The Argentine superstar left an injury-filled and trophyless 2014 behind and blew the doors open again in 2015. He was once again surrounded by a fantastic team, and had himself one of the best years of his career in terms of scoring and overall performances. Even a two-month absence due to a knee injury in the latter parts of the year are not enough to make us forget his amazing run in the Champions League, his decisive games in La Liga and his memorable Spanish Cup final performance. It will be a shocker to see anyone else's name being called. It's Messi's world and we're just living in it.
But there is a good chance that Neymar Jr. gets enough second place votes to overtake Ronaldo. We all knew about the Brazilian's potential upon his arrival in Catalonia, but his 2015 was the year in which he finally showed it. Scoring in every one of the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final itself, he was perhaps the best player in the Champions League knockout stages, finishing joint top scorer with the other two Ballon D'Or finalists. He was also consistently improving as a team player and found amazing chemistry with his 'MSN' teammates. When Messi went down with injury, he took the keys to the kingdom and had a spectacular two-month run that just showed us what he can do when he's in charge of this team. Messi was just too good for Neymar to be the world's best player in 2015, but there is a legitimate case for him to get number two this year, which is already amazing.
2015 Puskás Award
Featured Barcelona player: Lionel Messi
Once again, the Argentine had plenty of iconic moments in 2015, but none bigger than his goal in the Copa del Rey Final against Athletic Bilbao, which turned him into a nominee/favorite for the award recognizing the best goal of the year. He took individual defender Balenziaga and other four players on, and scored one of the finest goals the Camp Nou will ever see:
2015 World Coach
Featured Barcelona coach: Luis Enrique
The Asturian joined the Catalan giants again, hoping to repeat as coach the great sucess he got as a player for the Blaugranes. His start was not easy, as the first half of the season was filled with bad results, doubts and problems with the team's biggest stars. But he showed composure and willingness to take his ego out of the issue, and 2015 saw his team transform into an unstoppable machine. Under Enrique, Barça had a fantastic year with a second Treble and five total championships. He also managed to change Lionel Messi's position, which sounds small but was the reason the 'MSN' trio worked. In addition to that, he introduced a counter-attacking edge the position-loving group never had, and that tactical wrinkle also helped turn the Blaugrana into a world-beating force.
Facing Pep Guardiola and Chile national team coach Jorge Sampaoli, Enrique is the clear favorite. And deserves the award and the recognition. While most attribute Barça's sucess to the attacking trio, the truth is Lucho is a big part of why Barça is again on top of the world.
FIFA/FIFPro World XI
The award, voted by professional players, forms the ideal team of the season, with the best goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders and forwards of the year. The following players are Barça's candidates:
Defenders: Dani Alves, Jordi Alba, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Piqué
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic
Forwards: Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, Neymar Jr.
All awards will be announced on Monday at the FIFA Gala. We'll have the results for you as soon as we learn them. How many Barça players will be heading home with some silverware, Barça fans?