Over the course of the last five years, the hot, topical debate of “what is the greatest league in the world?” has been disputed far and wide.
When Chelsea won the Champions League in 2012, four years after Man Utd’s last European win, the Premier League was hailed as the best league in the world.
A year later, when Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich met in an all-German European final, pundits were quick to say that it wasn’t the Premier League that was the greatest – it was the Bundesliga.
Fast forward 12 months from Bayern’s win and it was an all-Spanish final. You get the picture.
Things change and in the world of football – a very volatile and continually evolving industry – so do people’s opinions.
When looking at the opening weekend of the Premier League and La Liga, televised matches in England were watched, on average, by 385,000 people. Compare that to La Liga’s 110,000 – there is a notable difference in viewership.
There is some context to this: not all games are televised and Manchester City vs Stoke might be more of an interest to, say, Barcelona vs Real Betis. However, there is a distinct difference in how much the Premier League is watched compared to other leagues.
It is also why the Premier League sold their television rights for a record £5.14bn – a whopping 71% increase on the previous deal worth £3bn.
While the audience is in the English leagues’s court, that does not suggest that the quality in the league is better. In fact, it’s not.
Why, if the Premier League is the best league in the world, would the top, top players continually reject England’s more financially viable offer to carry on playing in Spain?
There’s a repeated argument that goes along the lines of, ‘but Spain have incredibly weak and puny teams such as Eibar and Sporting Gíjon’. Since when were Sunderland, Swansea and Hull on par with the best teams?
And let’s reverse that: Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid could all, quite comfortably, win the Premier League without any real opposition in England.
There’s a reason why in the last seven years, there’s only been 4 semi-finalists from England in the Champions League. Comparing that to the 13 times a Spanish team has featured in a semi-final in the last seven years, the vast difference is alarming.
When starting from the beginning and looking at how Spanish clubs run academies and bring through youth players, Spain are leaps and bounds ahead of England. Instead of offering them lucrative pay-packets each month and acting as their personal butler, Spanish teams guide and nurture them through the early stages of their career properly.
Saul Niguez is one of LaLiga’s biggest starlets, coming through Atletico’s youth ranks
This can be quite easily assessed given the difference in quality the Spanish national team has compared to England’s. There’s a clear psychological battle going on with England, so even just comparing the names on each team-sheet, the quality of Spain trumps the Three Lions’s tenfold.
In terms of quality, LaLiga is streets ahead of any other league in the world. The facts of competing in the Champions League back that up and the success of Sevilla – winning the Europa League five times in 10 years, including a record three times – reinforces their dominance in Europe.
If Liverpool are in the bracket below England’s top dogs, and the same with Sevilla in Spain, why did the Spanish outfit completely outclass the Reds in the Europa League final last season? It was a one-sided affair that accentuated the gap in calibre.
Last season, Manuel Pellegrini’s City looked discombobulated against Los Blancos. A dire lack of imagination and penetration from the Citizens allowed Zidane’s Madrid to cruise into the final against Atlético. It was a non-contest and a waste of everyone’s time.
Given that LaLiga is the greatest league in the world, it doesn’t mean the Premier League isn’t good for nothing.
Wes Morgan kisses the trophy as Leicester City celebrate becoming the English Premier League soccer champions at …
The Premier League is the most entertaining league in the world – which is why so many people tune into to see it. While the quality may not be there like it is in Spain, the pure audacity of Watford beating Manchester United is what tunes fans into it.
The unconventional sense that, literally, any team can win the Premier League – personified by Leicester City being crowned Champions of England 12 months after narrowly avoiding relegation – is what makes it the most exciting competition.
You can easily spin this remarkable feat to outline how poor a league the English one is, but it should be celebrated given who won it and how they did it. Let’s not forget that Leicester played some world-class football that supposedly some of the best teams in the world couldn’t defend against.
The Foxes might not be enjoying success in England so far this season, but just look at their Champions League record: 3 games, 3 wins, 3 clean sheets. That’s record-breaking.
Spain might be years ahead of England and will be for some time in terms of pure quality, but for sheer excitement and unpredictability, the Premier League has a lot more to offer than La Liga.
By Liam Canning 27 October 2016