Ranking Europe's Major Leagues on Entertainment This Season
Europe's so-called top five leagues—England's Premier League, Spain's Primera Division, Germany's Bundesliga, Italy's Serie A and France's Ligue 1—produce some of the most exciting club-based football on the planet each season. So, then, which one has given fans the most entertainment this season?
Most answers to that question will be subjective, of course, based on one's loyalties and preferences. Today, though, we're trying to craft an argument based on the facts and stats.
Which league came out on top? Keep reading to find out.
(Stats as of May 5, 2013)
5. Ligue 1
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Goals (per game): 894 (2.55)
One-goal victories: 130
Average attendance: 19,104
France's Ligue 1 has featured the closest title race in Europe's top five leagues this season. Paris Saint-Germain currently lead the table by seven points over Marseille with three matches left, meaning the nouveau-riche Parisiens need only one more win to clinch the title.
PSG's Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, leads the league with 27 goals. But even with a somewhat-close title race and PSG's star power, few would argue that Ligue 1 boasts the talent of leagues like England's or Spain's.
Besides, watching PSG march inexorably to the title has been not unlike Gyp Rosetti's rise against Nucky Thompson. Sure, it's been both quick and impressive, but there's no joy in it; something feels a bit off about the whole thing, and it probably won't last the test of time.
If that's not enough to convince you, consider that Ligue 1 features both the lowest goals-per-game and attendance averages among Europe's top-five leagues.
4. Serie A
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Goals (per game): 924 (2.65)
One-goal victories: 126
Average attendance: 22,846
Juventus clinched their second consecutive title at the weekend—and gave manager Antonio Conte a memorable bath in celebration—but in reality, the title race ended long ago. Napoli, led by the brilliant Edinson Cavani and his league-leading 26 goals, are second in the table but trail by 11 points.
Further down the table, AC Milan are still in a fight for third place and a Champions League qualifying berth. Pescara have already been relegated, and Siena are in big trouble. With three matches left, the relegation battle appears to be a four-way race for two remaining spots.
3. Premier League
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Goals (per game): 984 (2.76)
One-goal victories: 143
Average attendance: 35,874
The Premier League has played out somewhat like Serie A, with a runaway champion, a couple relegation spots decided early and the only drama left involving one relegation team and two top-four qualifiers.
Manchester United romped to the title, blowing away defending champs and rivals Manchester City. In truth, though, City and the rest of the challengers were disappointing all season.
Three teams—Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham—remain alive for two Champions League spots, one of them automatic. At the other end of the table, a handful of teams remain in danger of relegation.
The difference between the Premier League and Serie A comes down to scoring. England has seen 984 goals this season, an average of 2.76 per match, along with a few crazy scorelines like Arsenal 7-3 Newcastle and Chelsea 8-0 Aston Villa.
2. La Liga
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Goals (per game): 972 (2.87)
One-goal victories: 135
Average attendance: 29,360
True, it's effectively a two-team league. And true, the title race has been effectively over since before Christmas.
Still, there's been plenty to like about Liga BBVA this season.
Barcelona need just one more point to clinch the title, and the top three spots in the table are all but sorted. Real Sociedad and Valencia are still fighting for the fourth and final Champions League spot, and at the bottom of the league, all three relegation spots are still undecided.
But let's face facts: This league is exciting not in spite of its status as a two-team competition, it's exciting because of that. Barcelona and Real Madrid are two of the best, most entertaining teams in the world, and their two yearly meetings in the league are occasions unto themselves.
Plus, those two teams feature the two best players in the world: Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo. Those two are worth watching every week, and as La Liga's goals ratio suggests, so is the whole league.
David Ramos/Getty Images
Goals (per game): 829 (2.88)
One-goal victories: 93
Average attendance: 42,451
This will be a controversial choice because of the manner in which Bayern won the title this season. The Bavarians steamrolled their way through the league season, clinching the title in record time.
That's something of a negative, but at the same time, it's been breathtaking to watch Bayern break record after record this season. It's no stretch to say that, in Bayern, we could be watching one of the all-time great teams in progress.
With that in mind, consider that the Bundesliga has provided both of this season's UEFA Champions League finalists. That would suggest the competition is top-rate, and the 2.88 goals-per-game average suggests plenty of excitement every week.
Beyond the big two of Bayern and Dortmund, the league has plenty of stars like Bayer Leverkusen's Andre Schurrle and Schalke's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Meanwhile, upstarts Eintracht Frankfurt have pushed for a place in the Champions League, and at the other end of the table, the 16th-placed team (currently Augsburg) will play in a relegation playoff at the end of the season.
The Bundesliga boasts the best attendance average in Europe's top five leagues, and that's probably no coincidence. In Germany, they're playing some of the best and most exciting football in the world.