Boring, Boring La Liga.Posted: January 21, 2011
Time after Time again we hear the same old clichés about La Liga. ‘It’s too boring’, ‘The opposition aren’t strong enough’, ‘two team league’ etc. We’ve also been had it drummed into us by certain people in the media that the English league beats no other and that it’s a much more competitive league with much tougher opposition. But is that true? Are these people right that the English Premier League produces the best players and managers? Well, you are about to find out.
If the Premier League is more open than the Spanish League why have only two teams been English champions since 2004? (the same year that somebody other than Real Madrid or Barcelona won La Liga). Since 1996 there have been 5 different winners of La Liga while in that time there have been only 3 winners of the Premier league.
Over the same 6 year period the gap between the top and bottom team is lower in Spain quashing any notion that the teams at the bottom of La Liga are rubbish. In England the gap is on average 65 points while in Spain the average is 56.6 points on average. As football these days is a stats game any fair minded person would look at these stats and see that La Liga is a more competitive league. There have been more goals scored in La Liga than the Premier League since 2004 which also suggests La Liga is a more vibrant and charismatic competition.
Over the previous ten years there has also been 13 different representitives (yes 13) of Spain in the Uefa Champions League (ranging from Real Madrid down to Andalucian side Real Betis). Whereas, England have had 8 representitives. Thats almost double!
Undoubtedly, English teams have fared better in the Champions league league than their Spanish counterparts (which is also partly down to Spanish influenced coaches managing Chelsea and Liverpool) but that is not the case in the Uefa Cup/Europa League. As I alluded to earlier in this piece we often get the notion that La Liga’s lesser teams arent strong enough, but their record in the Uefa cup proves that wrong. Since 2004 4 of the 7 winners of the Uefa Cup have been Spanish (Sevilla x2, Atletico de Madrid and Valencia) plus add to that the All Spanish final between Sevilla and Espanyol at Hampden park in 2007 and it shows that the depth of the Spanish league isn’t half as bad as people make out. During this time only two English teams have reached the final while both being dispatched fairly comfortably by Spanish opposition. This happened in the 2006 final where the excellent Sevilla under Juande Ramos beat Middlesborough 4-1 in Eindhoven and in 2010 surprise package Fulham under the much maligned Roy Hodgson lost to Atletico De Madrid in Hamburg.
But, what about the overall quality of the players in their respective leagues? I’m afraid La Liga wins hands down on that score. In this year’s Ballon d’or shortlist (23 players) 11 of the players played their football in La Liga, 5 played in Germany, 4 played in Italy and the final 3 played in England. The 3 players who were named on the final shortlist all played for Barcelona in La Liga. 9 of the 11 players who were nominated for the FIFPro World XI have played in La Liga in the past 2 years (8 still do).Every winner since 2006 (bar Kaka in 2007) have been playing in Spain whilst they’ve won the prestigious award. It is also worth noting that Kaka was bought by Real Madrid 18 months after winning the Ballon d’or for a then world record £56 million.
And the notion that this shows La Liga throws money at every Tom, Dick or Miguel to achieve this goal is wrong. Manchester City have spent more money than anybody on the planet in the past year yet they cannot boast one ballon d’or nominee in their squad whilst Barcelona can post 8 players all of whom have come through the famous La Masia youth complex on the outskirts of the Catalan Capital.
It is because of this information that I believe La Liga to be the better of the two leagues. For me, The English premier league is like Serie A, lacking in serious amount of quality, that undoubtedly makes for more exciting leagues and this is not how a league should be measured. A league should be measured by its skill and the tactical geniuses behind the great teams that occupy these leagues and how successful they are. I firmly believe that Spain have produced better coaches in the past 20 years. Coaches such as Rafael Benìtez, Pep Guardiola and Vicente Del Bosque have all achieved European and World success. Luis Aragones can also be added to to that list having won the European Championships in 2008 whilst the only British Manager to achieve European success has been Alex Ferguson. The Spanish philosophy clearly wins the contest, the English Premier League has a long way to go before it can boast to being better.