"Don't think about a season, think about history."
Nike campaign after Barça won the 09/10 League title
La Liga. The passion, the art, the rivalries, the crowds, the prestige, the fury, the fans, the mystique, the legends.
How could one describe the goals of Di Stefano, the intelligence of Puskas, the finishing of Zarra, the touch of Kubala, the brilliance of Cruyff, the elegance of Butragueño, the heart of Guardiola, the legendary Maradona, the genius of Messi, the cintilating runs of Ronaldo and Figo, the strike of Romário, the creativity of Ronaldinho, the vision of Zidane, the accuracy of Xavi, the gigantic colosseums of Madrid and Barcelona?
You just cannot. You have to experience and have to be either a "hater" or ignorant to claim that La Liga is mediocre.
La Liga's top spots are more competitive than the mainstream media make you think.
One of the most heard arguments is that La Liga is dead from day one. The champion is either Barça or Real Madrid.
Let us look at the stats from '92 onwards, just for the sake of a good comparison with the English Prem.
Since the 92-93 season the Spaniards have seen four different champions. Barça (8), Real Madrid (6), Valencia CF (2), Deportivo De La Coruña (1), Atlético Madrid (1).
As we can see Barcelona and Real Madrid dominated the Spanish footballing scene in the last two decades. Still, did they always stay in the top three? They didn't.
In the so called "two-horse-race-league," Real Madrid did not make it to the top three in five different occasions. Barça could not break into the top three in four different occasions.
Since the 92-93 season Manchester United's worst rank was third in three different occasions.
The only Spanish team that has managed to achieve this feit is Real Madrid, who managed to be in the among the elite three of Spanish football from 1952 to 1969.
This was the same side that won the Champions League five times in a row (from '55 to '60) and won it again in '66 (They were runners up in 1962 and 1964, by thw way). The point being, that unlike Manchester United, this Madrid side dominated world football like none other club has.
Just for the record, since the creation of the EPL, there have only been four different champions: Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea and the undisputed powerhouse of the UK Manchester United.
Of course, since '05 only Madrid or Barça have been crowned as Spanish Champions, and the Prem has only seen two champions too, Manchester United and Chelski—just a reminder, because many like to forget that part.
Many also claim that since the creation of the EPL there have been a number of teams, that challenged Manchester United, like Newcastle, Chelsea, Liverpool, Balckburn and Arsenal.
First off, trying to defend the Prem. by saying that they have one perennial powerhouse, whilst saying that La Liga is mediocre, because it has two is hard to understand.
Secondly, since '92 Deportivo de La Coruña, Athletic Bilbao, Atlético Madrid, Valencia CF, Real Sociedad, Villareal and Sevilla ended in the top three more than once, in their attempt to overthrow the Real-Madrid-Barça-super-merger-team-that-never-existed.
Just to finish the argument off, the 09/10 season established a record in the difference of points between the first and the third place.
Actually, if you analyze the last years, the EPL has had a bigger point difference between the Champions and the third-placed-team than the Spanish League. Nonetheless, La Liga is somehow less competitive.
Barça is not being taken on a piggy-back-ride to the top by the referees
It is called "Human Error", dear readers. One of the arguments pulled up by one B/R writer was that Barça was given freebies all the time. Of course, only someone who does not know Spanish football could write such an atrocity.
During this season the press from Spain's capital had coined the term "Villarato", which was a kind of conspiracy, that gave Barça "good" refereeing calls, while Real Madrid were being held back by every man dressed in yellow.
Many notables of the Spanish footballing scene have called such claims "ludicrous", even longtime Laporta rival José Maria del Nido, Sevilla's president, has stated:
"He who says that Barcelona is on a high note, because of the refs, either has little or no idea whatsoever of the game of football."
Our Barça-hating author has even talked about Ibra's goal against Real Madrid, saying that it was offside, since every one analyst said that it was offside. Watch the video:
Well, I guess that our friend's analysts don't watch the games, that they judge.
And just to prove that "Villarato" is nothing more than a simple conspiracy theory I present to you "Gijóngate":
Well, supposedly, Pedro was in a blatant offside position.
There is no competition in La Liga
I could not disagree more. A League is not only made of the top spots. It has several rank, just in case someone hasn't noticed yet.
Since the League is still played in a "you-against-everyone-else-mode", I thought that measuring the difference between the champion and the worst team would be interesting.
In Spain, Barça accounted for 99 points, whereas Xerex had 34. The difference is of 65 points.
In England, Chelsea had 86 points, rock-bottom Portsmouth reached a total of 19 points. The difference? Exactly 67 points.
On top of that, the distance between the last placed team and the best team without an European spot was of 22 points in Spain and of 26 points in England.
Thus meaning, that teams aren't that far away from each other as people think. Actually, the Prem. has showed us a bigger difference, but for one point. The championship places. Barça was almost 30 points clear of Valencia, whereas United was only 10 points away from Arsenal.
La Liga dominated Europe overall in the last decade and all-time
Saying that Spanish teams never had a firm grip in Europe isn't debatable. It is ridiculous.
Let us look at historical stats first.
Real Madrid is the record-holder for most wins in the Champions League (9) and in European competitions (UEFA Cup and CL) (2).
Overall, Spain is the country with more appearances in the CL semi-finals (41). England counts 35 appearances in the semis.
Spain is also the second country with the biggest number of European trophies, right behind Italy. The difference is of just three points.
Many say, that Chelsea and Arsenal have been very successful in Europe throughout this decade.
Well, Valencia was more successful than both of them in this decade.
Which brings us to an analysis of the last decade.
Let me remind you, dear reader, that a League has more than a top four.
Let us take a look at the Spanish performance in Europe since 2000.
- 2 Spanish teams made it to the UEFA Cup QF (Real Mallorca, Celta de Vigo)
- 3 out of 4 Champions League semi-finalists (Valencia CF, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona)
- All Spanish final with Madrid beating Valencia
- 4 teams made it to the UEFA Cup QF (FC Barcelona, Celta de Vigo, Deportivo Alavés, Rayo Vallecano)
- 2 teams made it to the UEFA Cup SF (FC Barcelona and Deportivo Alavés)
- Alavés lost in the final to Liverpool.
- 2 out of 4 Champions League semi-finalists (Valencia CF and Real Madrid)
- Valencia CF lost in the final to Bayern München
- Valencia made it to the UEFA CUP QF
- 2 out of 4 Champions League semi-finalists (FC Barcelona and Real Madrid)
- Real Madrid won against Bayer Leverkusen
- Real Madrid won the UEFA Supercup
- Málaga reached the UEFA CUP QF
- Valencia CF and FC Barcelona reached the Champions League QF
- Real Madrid reached the Champions League SF
- Valencia and Villareal play an all Spanish UEFA Cup semi-final
- Valencia won the competition
- Four Spanish teams reached the CL EF (Real Sociedad, Deportivo de La Coruña, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona)
- Two Spanish sides advanced to the CL QF (Real Madrid and Deportivo de La Coruña)
- Depor reached the SF, losing to eventual champions FCPorto
- Valencia won the UEFA Supercup
- Villarreal made it to the UEFA Cup QF
- Barça and Real Madrid make it to the CL EF
- Sevilla won the UEFA Cup
- Villareal made it to the CL SF
- Barcelona won the Champions League
- Sevilla won the UEFA Supercup
- 3 Spanish teams in the UEFA Cup SFs (Espanyol Osasuna, Sevilla)
- All-Spanish final between Espanyol and Sevilla. Sevilla won the game.
- Valencia made it to the CL QF
- Getafe made it to the UEFA Cup QF
- Sevilla makes it to the EF of the CL
- Barcelona reach the CL SF
- Villareal made it to the CL QF
- Barcelona FC won the competition and reach a historical treble
- Barcelona FC won the UEFA Supercup
- FC Barcelona wins the FIFA Club World Cup
- Valencia and Atlético Madrid staged an all-Spanish Europa League QF
- Atlético Madrid won the tournament
- FC Barcelona reached the Champions League semi-finals
These are the stats of the international performance of a mediocre league, why of course.
La Liga teams only won the Champions League four times, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Supercup three times and the FIFA Club World Cup once (most titles in the last decade by country).
As you can see, six different Spanish clubs made it to the finals of a European competition (a record in this decade—Deportivo Alavés, Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid, Valencia CF, FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC).
Nine Spanish clubs made it to the SF of an European competition (UEFA Cup or CL).
Five different teams from La Liga made it to the Champions League Semi-Finals (another record—Villarreal, FCBarcelona, Real Madrid, Deportivo de La Coruña, Valencia CF).
La Liga has, had and will have the biggest names in football
Since the author of an article, which spilled hate for Barça and La Liga, laughed at his readers comments, allow me to laugh along with him as I guide through some interesting fan facts.
Fun fact 1:
From the 14 players that won the FIFA World Player of the Year award (WPOTY), only three did not play in Spain.
Fun fact 2:
FC Barcelona is home to the most successful players in the history of the WPOTY, Real Madrid is a close second.
Fun fact 3:
Nine players have won the Ballon D'Or for their season at FC Barcelona. In total, Barcelona players won the coveted award ten times.
Fun fact 4:
FC Barcelona has only bought one player that won the Ballon D'Or before he joined Barcelona—the legendary Cruijff.
Fun fact 5:
Barcelona's starting eleven fielded eight former La Masia graduates.
Fun fact 6:
La Liga counts with more international football legends in its ranks, than any other league. Just to name a few: Di Stefano, Puskas, Kubala, Romário, Cruijff, Maradona, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Zidane, Cannavarro, Messi, C. Ronaldo, Figo, Koeman, Roberto Carlos.
Fun fact 7:
Real Madrid was considered by FIFA as the greatest club of the 20th century. Somehow they're stuck in a mediocre league though.
You may cry all you want about Real Madrid's record-breaking fees, but keep in mind, that Real Madrid has an estimated yearly revenue of 400M €, so they can spend their money, without needing help from Russian mobsters (cough Chelski) or Arabs wanting to have an empire (cough Man City).
La Liga is the home of the world's biggest rivalry
The legends, the quality of the game, the political rivalry, that literally tears a country apart. Is there anything bigger than a good old Barça vs Real Madrid match?
These teams have dominated the Spanish League year after year. They have the support of 55 percent of all Spanish fans, they have the world watching their every move. It is the only rivalry that has had a title in stake every year, since FC Barcelona won its first title in the first half of the XXth century. It is a spectacle.
If there is a guarantee in the Spanish League, then it is that you are going to have a nail bitter until the last match day, just to see who the Champion might be.
The "sócios" and Club ownership in Spain
Alas, the most beautiful thing about the Spanish League, is that both Real Madrid and Barça are not corporations, unlike many top ranked English teams.
They belong to the "socios", that is the first paragraph of the statutes of both clubs, they belong to what makes them great. That's us, the fans.
This article was completely hate free and supported by true facts collected from the official websites of FIFA, the Barclaycard Premier League, La Liga BBVA, UEFA and France Football.