El Centrocampista

SIMPLY THE BEST! – Why La Liga is the greatest competition around

By Richard Thorburn

Ever since television executives decided to bring coverage of European leagues to our television screens, the debate as to which league is the ‘best’ has become a topic of heated conversation in every pub, workplace and football mad family across the continent.

And while it may be easy to make a rash decision on which league you prefer to watch, or be guided by the media on how the quality of one particular league is far superior to the others, maybe now is the time step back, breath, and let go of your best mate’s throat just because you are convinced that the Bulgarian third division is by far the best around.

With everybody carrying a different definition as to what qualities a league must possess it is easy to see why a definite answer has not yet been located.

What is it that makes a league the best in Europe?

And here we are presented with our first problem.

While to some flair and technical ability is of upmost importance, to others the passion of the fan is key.

In contrats, many view drama and competitiveness as paramount – especially come come the business end of the season.

Perhaps this then is the reason as to why there is a distinct lack of a definite answer to date with all of the above points being subjective and hard to measure.

In an individual’s opinion, there is no right or wrong answer.

And while here at elcentrocampista.com the opinions of our feature writers may, in certain articles be key, for once as Rafael Benitez once so eloquently put it, let’s concentrate on the facts.

Moments in history that can’t be changed after a few pints of the finest San Miguel.

Talking from an ‘on the pitch only’ point of view, recent years have perhaps shed some clarity on the issue more than ever before, due in part to the forceful dominance that the Spanish game on both the international and domestic front.

Even the staunchest supporters of the Serie A or the Barclays Premier League have to admit that La Liga provides a clear benchmark in terms of quality and technique that many fall short of.

The two powerhouses of Barcelona and Real Madrid certainly need no introduction, with the former sweeping up all that has gone before them in the past five years, a run which has seen them collect three UEFA Champions League trophy’s in the process.

Heralded by many as ‘the greatest ever team’ it provides a strong correlation back to the strength of the Spanish game at present.

Championing that Spanish cause is Guillem Balague a man who Sky Sports viewers will no doubt be familiar with as one of the experts on the channel’s weekly football show, Revista de la Liga.

The AS.com journalist argued: “The technical ability of the players is superb in La Liga and it really is the most beautiful football to watch. There is always the Big Two of Real and Barça, but unlike the Premier League, you have several other teams who have broken through into the top four in recent years.”

Ironically however, it is the lack of competitiveness that has seen La Liga’s biggest critics come to the surface.

Tthe fact that the crown has left the grasp of Real Madrid or Barcelona on only five paltry occasions during the last 30 years tells its own story.

The likes of Athletic Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla – all fine clubs with great tradition, heritage and players – merely battle it out for the two remaining Champions League places.

On the European front however, it is slightly different and it is the records in European competitions that perhaps highlight the true strength of La Liga.

Sevilla and Athletico Madrid have both, in recent years secured glory in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, and while that competition may be looked upon with disdain from Europe’s premier clubs, it does provide us with a clear indication as to the strength of depth in La Liga.

Unlike the dominance of Celtic and Rangers in Scotland – two clubs that have struggled in Europe – who play week in week out against 10 other teams whose quality and pedigree have to be questioned, the stranglehold that Real Madrid and Barcelona have on the league should not provide embarrassment to the other 18 teams.

As highlighted by European success, it’s not that these teams aren’t good; it’s just that Madrid and Barcelona are colossal in their own right.

Place the pair in the Premier League, Seria A, Bundesliga, that Bulgarian league, wherever in fact, and it is almost a given that they would rise to the top, the cream always does.

Perhaps then the real question is to consider where the likes of Valencia et al would finish in say the Barclays Premier League.

Last month’s one all draw at home to Chelsea, a game in which they could so have easily won, should provide some indication that they could at least compete at the highest level.

In actual fact, maybe they would stand a better chance if they move shores to a division that is Barcelona and Real Madrid-free.

While the two Manchester clubs may be dominating the Premiership this season, judged on recent results between Spanish and English teams, there is no reason why Valencia or – Atletico for that matter – could not impose themselves as a force.

Valencia recorded two draws with Manchester United in their Champions League campaign last year, and I’m sure we can all remember Diego Forlan’s extra time away goal that saw Atletico Madrid stun Liverpool in a Europa League semi-final at Anfield back in 2010.

While I am sure an away trip to Stoke in December’s snow might cause them some discomfort, it would certainly be interesting to see how they fared.

Speaking of the Europa league, it will also be interesting to note Athletic Bilbao’s progress in the competition this year.

While the opening few months of the La Liga season have seen them struggle domestically, in Europe they are in fine form having secured a maximum six points from their games thus far.

That will be another string to La Liga’s bow then.

Overall, it does seem then that all the media hype surrounding the Spanish game and La Liga at the moment is justifiable, and it will come as little surprise to you that I for one think that in terms of quality – La Liga is unrivalled.

The beauty of football however, is there are sure to be thousands of people out there that disagree.

And that’s just fine.


  1. Jafar

    12 October, 2011 at 11:59

    I like La Liga the most and it’s unrivalled in terms of technique and quality, and has been for along time and it isn’t a recent thing either.
    After Serie A mid 90’s when their technique fell La Liga has been the most technical league in the Europe.

    Uli Hoeness, the president of Bayern Munich said that Bundesliga has surpassed the Premier League and now they only have to La Liga as their rivals to become the best League in the world. And the president of the Bundesliga said something similar as well.

    I however partly disagree with the article, I do agree that Valencia,Atletico,Sevilla and Malaga can all top into the top 4 in the Premier League as I don’t really rate the Chelsea and Liverpool that much and I think they are really over hyped by the media to think they are better than they actually are, they are good but not that good. But the two leagues are too different, the physical aspect of the Premier league will provide too much of a challenge in the first few week for everyone that isn’t used to it, but their technique should make up for it most of the time so I don’t think they will be able to challenge in the first few weeks and Atletico have a consistency problem so they are so-so anyway.

  2. Jafar

    12 October, 2011 at 12:05

    If you went deeper in to the Premier League vs La Liga you could have said how they said that Mata,Silva,Kun and others will not succeed in the Premier League because it’s too physical only for those players to make it up for their technical superiority and these players are one of the best in the Premier League and to be honest their weren’t this good in La Liga, I doubt it’s because they have improved so much in the summer as I have seen Mata play in pre-season and all that. It’s I believe because the opposition are weaker, so another point to La Liga but for this they had so suffer and lose of of their best players.
    But for the way it seems it looks like La Liga can afford to lose them more because they can produce others like them.

  3. Richard Thorburn

    12 October, 2011 at 12:12

    Hi Jafar,

    Thanks for your comment. It would certainly be interesting to see how the likes of Malaga, Valencia, Sevilla and Malaga would cope in the Premiership.

    Equally it would be interesting to see if the lower end clubs in the Barcalys Premier League clubs fared any better if they transfered over to La Liga.

    As you say, its a tough one to call and Im sure that there would have to be a settling in period to adjust to the demands of the different league.

    As I mentioned in the article, how they would adapt to a December snow filled day away at Stoke is certainly questionable!

    Technically speaking though, in my book they are far in advance of anything that any team outside of the top six in England can produce.

  4. Iain McMullen

    13 October, 2011 at 11:13

    Players such as Agüero and David Silva will perform in any environment – the latter has already had a season in England and the former won’t have any problems in my opinion.

    There does seem to be a blinkered opinion in the UK about the quality of its domestic league – which sometimes grates, but in all honesty I don’t think there is much to choose between the two leagues.

    Barcelona have been way above ANY side in the world in recent years, and will go down in history as probably the greatest to have played the game, so it is no shame to be beaten by them.

    It was only two seasons ago that the Premier League dominated the Champions League, so I think it is a little premature for accusations of its demise.

    When you look at the overall squad at a club such as Manchester City, it is hard to argue that they do not have a squad of players that, on paper, would challenge for the title in any league.

    Manchester United, well we all know about them.

    I think the two Manchester clubs would be up there, we’re they to play in La Liga – Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs would fight it out with Valencia and Co in my opinion.

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