La Liga or the English Premiership: Beautiful Football vs. Competitive Results

Choon Yau TanCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2009

SANTANDER, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona is lifted up by Seydou Keita after scoring Barcelona's fourth goal against Racing Santander during the La Liga match between Racing Santander and Barcelona at El Sardinero stadium on September 22, 2009 in Santander, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

I know it's too early to say anything but whether you like it or not, this season's La Liga title is again between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

You can almost say that the two fixtures of Barcelona versus Real Madrid at Camp Nou and Santiago Bernabeu would determine the winner of the Spanish Premiera, as well as how well both teams play against 'bigger' teams like Valencia, Sevilla, Villarreal, and Atletico Madrid.

Real have beaten Villarreal comfortably while Barcelona trashed Atletico a couple of games back by the way.

Both Real Madrid and Barcelona surely play beautiful football; slick passing, natural flair, and amazing footwork. And they surely deserve to win every game they dominate with ease.

But aren't they slowly becoming the 'Celtic and Rangers' of Spain? The only difference is that their frequent 5-2 or 4-1 wins resulted from beautiful football have been shadowing the fact, or should I say the 'problem' all these years?

Fixtures of Real Madrid or Barcelona against teams like Racing Santander, Valladolid, Xerez, and the other 'smaller' teams are no longer exciting. Fans do get excited watching how Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Kaka tear the teams apart but the results can almost be predicted most of the time before the kickoff.

Whereas in the English Premiership where many claim to be highly predictable and boring display, at least the matches are exciting—not for it is the most watched league in the world of course. And the outcome of any match is not easily predictable at all.

Often you see teams park buses in front of their goals and often you see highly tactical battles between teams in England, but you can never be certain enough to tell the eventual winner of a match, even if it is between Chelsea and Hull City for example.

The English Premiership is being dominated by the so-called 'Big Four', but most of their victories are hard fought. Very rarely you see the smaller teams give up without a good fight and just letting the big boys trot over them.

The 'bigger' teams in England don't win 4-0 or 5-0 as much as Real and Barca do in a season and that's not because they are not as good as the two Spanish giants, but because of the way 'smaller' teams in England approach the 'bigger' teams.

To prevent giving easy wins to the 'bigger' teams, 'smaller' teams have to use physical advantage and some so-called 'anti-football' strategies most of the time. That results in what anti-Premiership people label as 'boring' football, which I don't understand why.

It sure is frustrating not to see the favourites winning comfortably, but the determination and the hunger of the 'smaller' English teams are simply amazing and inspiring at times.

And because of that, you see more upsets in the Premiership than the La Liga. It is not as rare to see teams like Wigan, Bolton, and Birmingham walking away with victories over the top teams, compared to La Liga.

The tactical and physical approach of the English teams might have limited the teams from playing attractive football but the matches are attractive in a different way.

The beautiful football played in Spain is what makes them attractive. But what makes English football attractive is seeing how teams win matches by using beautifully planned tactics to force errors and break down defences. Every minor thing matters in the Premiership and even goal kicks pose a big threat to the opponents.

I am not trying to prove that the Premiership is more superior than the La Liga here, I am just comparing both leagues and highlighting their attractive and boring parts.

The debate to determine which league is the best has been going on for a long time now and most of the time, the pro-Spain debaters use the word 'boring' to describe the Premiership and the word 'attractive' to describe themselves.

I wouldn't say that the English teams play boring football, it depends on how you look at it really. Can't carefully organised set-pieces and good man-marking be attractive? Why are goals and tricks the only measures for determining beautiful football?

The excitement fans get in the process of watching Premiership games due to the unpredictable results is what makes the league interesting.

Besides, teams like Manchester City and Tottenham have improved a lot, and you can expect Aston Villa and Everton to start gaining momentum soon. The 'Big Four' is no longer there.

The title race is wide open, Chelsea and Manchester United may look like the favourites at the moment, but how many of you dare to say that one of these two sides will definitely finish as eventual champions come May next year? Can you write off Liverpool and Arsenal's chances now? Can you say Manchester City will at most settle for the fourth spot only? And can you guarantee that Everton are bound for relegation?

But I am certain that Real Madrid and Barcelona will still be the top two teams in Spain at the end of this season.

In conclusion, football is not separated by beautiful or boring football. Since it is the world's best sport, every match is beautiful in its own way—skills or no skills, tactics or no tactics. And before one points his finger to someone else, accusing another of being boring, look at the bigger picture.


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