Best Football League in Europe, Premier League or La Liga?
Why These are Europe's Top Two
Firstly I will start off with why the Premier League and La Liga are the two best leagues in Europe. Europe's Super Leagues, if you will. The Champions League is the most coveted trophy for any top European footballing team, and is notoriously difficult to win. Since the 2001-2002 season 7 of the 11 winners have been from either England or Spain, with three of the runners up also been from these nations. Also, the current UEFA coefficient ranking system puts 5 out of the top 6 teams from both England and Spain. These stats only help to back up that both leagues have an overwhelming cosistency in the toughest club competition football has to offer. Looking at the leagues depth I also have evidence to show that both are filled with talent in the form of the Europa League. Since the 2000-2001 season 6 of the 12 winners and 4 of the runners up are English and Spanish. Now that I have established a solid case for these leagues been Europe's superior two, I will begin to compare the major differences they have with each other.
Quality In Depth
As an Englishman myself, I often hear peers and football pundits alike, abruptly judge the Premier League to be the best league in the world. The trouble with a lot of these comments is that the people making them do not watch a great deal of football from leagues in Europe other than the Premier League. Out of those who do watch Spanish football, it doesn't take long to realise that they really only watch the two giants Barcelona and Real Madrid. A reason which I think gets used against La Liga is the supreme quality it's two best teams conceal. Because Barcelona and Real Madrid often outclass lesser opponents in their league by large goal margins, they can be seen to be playing against 'weak teams' who are there to make up the numbers, rather than a showing of how excellent these two really are. On the other hand, the top Premier League teams such as Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea often drop points to teams in the bottom half of the table and on occasion even lose to teams in the relagation zone. In one sense this could be seen as a clear indication that the Premier League has more quality as a whole as any team can beat another. Another way to look at it would be to say that because the top teams in the Premier League are not a good as La Liga's, they therefore drop more points to so called smaller clubs. In this years Champions League we are up to the quarter final stages and three teams from Spain remain whilst all English clubs have been eliminated from the competition . Barca and Real are left in with Malaga who had a great 2011-2012 season to qualify, however they are not allowed to compete in Europe next year due to financial problems. Even though they are not allowed to play in Europe next season, there are signs to suggest that Malaga will not even gain a top four spot anyway, and may have to sell top talent including Isco, with teams such as Valencia and Real Sociedad been there main rivals to the top four spot. This shows that there is indeed a battle for the Champions League spots in Spain, and the teams getting them are performing well in the competition itself. To say La Liga is a stronger league because they have more clubs left in this years Champions League would be premature. Its actually a massive surprise for everyone that there are no English teams still in at this stage of the competition, giving how cosistent they have been at making it over the past 15 years. After qualifying year after year I suppose it was only a matter of time before an unsuccessful spell came along, even if it only does last for one year.
Who Would Win.....
Choose Your Winning Team From The Above Picture
These two league's could possibly not be more tactically different if they tried, the chalk and cheese of football.
Its doesn't take long to realise when watching a La Liga match that the pace is a lot slower than that of the Premier League. La Liga is a league which is known as a tactical one, and it doesn't half live up to its reputation. The pace of their game may be slower than the English but the technique and tactical awareness they possess is much superior. Teams concentrate on keeping possession of the ball and having good passing ability, with the division being less physical than that of the EPL. This emphasis on technique instead of physicality may be a prime reason for why their national team have already made history by winning three consecutive major competitions, (Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012).
The English Premier League, quick paced, physical and exciting is certainly what any football fan would want to watch. This league does not particularly concentrate on tactics, however there is still an abundance of world class quality on show. English teams tend to have two heavy hitting cetre backs, at least one enforcing midfielder and a strong centre forward who can win the ball. The quickness of the game generally means players are closed down with little time to think so technique still needs to be good in order to complete difficult passes.
Average Points Gap Table
Home Grown Players
Having more home grown players getting a chance in the first team suggests that the national team will perform better which can be backed up by how Italy, Germany and Spain have porformed internationally in recent times. This is so because it means young talents have a chance to get experience at a top level instead of sitting on the bench behind internationals from other nations. This does not however, mean that your national league will be better if you have more home grown talents playing in it.
This may be something which works against England, they have such a strong national league because of the array of nationalities playing in it, which prevents young English stars getting into the first team. Players are often loaned out to lower league clubs in a bid to get experience, yet this is not at the top level they crave. Unless the player is exceptional and able to push international stars out of their first team place, we don't generally see English talents get a real chance until the early 20's. This could also have something to do with the physcial nature of the EPL which frail youngsters may not be able to cope with at 18-19 years of age.
La Liga totally overshadows all other Europe nations in the home grown players statistics. the average is 25.9% which is a little over a quarter of each team. This gives young players a chance to be moulded in a top league alongside already top international players who can help them develop their game. The most successful club of modern times is Barcelona, and on November 25th 2012, after Dani Alves went off injured, Martin Montoya took to the field and something special had happened. Barcelona had all 11 players who were brought through their academy, the famous La Masia. PLayers included Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. Barca were victorious in a 4-0 rout. So is this the way forward? Getting a system in place and following it carefully, using players who have grew up together and had so many games with each other before even turning professional. This way integration into the first team and eventual national team would seem to be easier than getting thrown in at the deep end like in the EPL, playing in a new system with players you have never played with.