The Hot Debate: Which Is The Best League In Europe and Why?

Saura BhattacharjeeAnalyst ISeptember 19, 2010

The Hot Debate: Which Is The Best League In Europe and Why?

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    The supremacy of European leagues has been a topic of debate for a long time. There have been numerous debates among football fans of different leagues over which league is the best. While every league has its positives and negatives, no one league has been accepted to be the best by anyone yet.

    Hence I thought that B/R should have its very own debates to which is the best league. We have fans of  different leagues giving their reasons as to why their league is the best in Europe. The leagues in contention will be English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, and the German Bundesliga.

    There are numerous other leagues all over Europe but these four are seen as the best. Hence, I chose only the four leagues, and I do not wish to undermine the other leagues by my omission.

    Representing English Premier League will be Liverpool Featured Columnist Kaustav Bose. He has been a Reds' fan since he started watching the game, and his articles on his club are very popular on B/R as we all know.

    While choosing the candidate for representing the Spanish La Liga I had no trouble. The La Liga's most active member, and an equally vocal Barcelona supporter as well as a Featured Columnist, the very popular Manuel Traquete.

    Representing the German Bundesliga is none other than the hugely popular Bundesliga Featured Columnist, and Community Leader Vampy Archer. He is very popular and is a no-nonsense guy. One of my favourite writers for his straightforward thoughts, and their presentation.

    When the thought of Italian Serie A came I could think of none other than AC Milan Featured Columnist, and the immensely popular Ivan Soldo, whose articles are a treat to read.

    I myself did not participate as I felt it would be better to get the views of these popular and known writers, and my participation would weigh down the debate in favour of EPL.

    Hope everyone has a read and they enjoy the debate. Your views will be appreciated and looked forward for.

EPL Representative: The Stat-Loving "Kaustav Bose"

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    English Premier League
    English Premier League

    La Liga


    La Liga has been the face of football to many a football fan around the world, with all the big stars taking the centre stage and putting together breathtaking displays time and again.

    Enough said. Lets get the bare facts to place now.

    Wait a minute ! La Liga is not just about El Classicos, not merely about Real Madrid and Barcelona. It also necessarily has other competitors, or do they? Barring a draw every now and then, Madrid and Barcelona have dominated the La Liga not just in terms of the points. The points they accumulate, which speaks for itself that they have no real competitors, but also the sum of money that they spend almost every season, which ridiculously outdoes any efforts of the competitors to build a strong enough squad, or even manager for that matter !


    The spending by Real Madrid and Barcelona have significantly contributed to inflated transfer markets, and although they have managed stars from almost every part of the globe they deem possible, it has also ensured that any threat to their respective positions in the La Liga is out of question.

    All this makes La Liga (barring El Classicos) usually a boring prospect with foregone conclusions ruling the roost. Also, it puts overstress on financial matters as opposed to the good old methods of the beautiful game.

    Serie A


    A little like the La Liga, Serie A lies on the back of mainly the San Siro outfits. Although impressive of late in Europe, one really has to scratch his head to think when was the last time any other team barring Inter and AC Milan made a significant impression in Europe.

    Although marginally better than the Spanish in terms of spending and other wasted bargain buys, however their regular play is very slow and dull for me, and not really top class.

    The Serie A though is turning a new leaf with Roma getting back to their better days and more competition is thus ensured thus they never (almost!) spend even nearly as the Serie A giants and win the league by ridiculous margins.

    Bundesliga


    Undoubtedly, the most competitive league of the lot. Although the Bundesliga share some similarities too with the foresaid, they also have a very noble rule i.e., clubs cannot be run on debt.

    The Bundesliga, though too, has lost some of its venom of late, and we all know that barring Bayern the rest don’t really have the class but isn’t it expected with such low spending.

    However, they still serve as a manufacturing house for top class German talent, much like Ajax does for the Netherlands. With a level battleground, I believe the Bundesliga will evolve very much an exemplary league of its own.

    As of now though, the lack of stars makes the league uninteresting and also the style of football seems below par.

    The English Premier League

    Now, coming to the Premier League. I for one believe that at the moment it is quite simply the best league in Europe. Let us have a look why.

    They have done well in the European competitions for most of the recent times and unlike the other premier divisions throughout Europe, they have done so even after being equally competitive in the domestic league.

    Take for example, the La Liga, Barcelona and Real Madrid have done their bit in the domestic league, and end up three points apart. In Europe, Real fails to qualify beyond the Round of 16, and if Atletico wins the Europa they do so after by ending up with 47 points to Barcelona’s 99. Even Valencia, who end up third in the League have just 71 points.

    All these just point to how one-sided and incompetent the La Liga has become. And as if that was not enough, their fourth-place finisher, Sevilla , gets humiliated by some unknown Portuguese team in Braga and fail to even move into the real Champions League group stage.

    If you thought Braga were a handful, how about the 6-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates.

    Even though there are times when the matches in the Premier League, too, go seriously one-sided, many a team unlike the other premier divisions in Europe do spend a good amount of money on the gross. Thus, resulting in a lesser dip in talent. Thus, you find even the likes of Wigan Athletic and Sunderland giving the big guns a very good fight.

    Although there are many issues, which could be laid forth to substantiate how the English Premier League is better, there area few problems as of now and barring the problems of debt-ridden clubs (which should be sorted out as the Plaitini’s rules come to effect gradually), it seems to be the inability to really compete with the likes of Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands too in terms of manufacturing and nurturing pure and young English talent, the way the foresaid countries do or have done.

    At the end, even speaking from a narrower prospective, I would say that it is only England and the Premier League teams who have gotten the tag of “Big Four,” and although Liverpool missed the bus this time, does any other country have such dominance both in the domestic as well as in Europe? A browse through the very recent records don’t tell anything like that.

Italian Serie A Representative: Croatian Star "Ivan Soldo"

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    Itialian Serie A
    Itialian Serie A

    Serie A can’t be the best league in the world right now.

    Inter won the Champions League, but that is definitely not enough to call Serie A the strongest league in the world. Inter is by far the strongest team in Serie A for the past four or five years. Also, they don’t have any serious competition because of the Calciopoli scandal.

    I am really curious about all this mess around Calciopoli, and I think Juventus wasn’t supposed to be punished so hard! They should have left them in Serie A, and punished them with negative points (20-30) and Serie A would recover pretty fast. But, when Juventus went to Serie B, Italian Serie A changed for all-time! Key players went from the club (Ibrahimovic and Viera to Inter, Thuram and Zambrotta to Barcelona while Cannavaro went to Real Madrid).

    All this time, Roma was the only serious opponent to Inter.

    Anyway, for me Serie A is the best league because of great fans, and so many people that love football and there is a lot of great football despite all these tactics. Also, Italian clubs were the most successful in Champions League (12-time winner, while 14 times they were runner-up).

    Always say that Italian football is in a crisis, which is true. Calciopoli totally separated Serie A between Inter and “the others." Also, the problem is with infrastructure like Milan vice president Galiani always talks about it. Today, Serie A is definitely in third place, while first place I give to Premiership and second to La Liga. But, I believe that pretty soon when Juventus and Milan finally become main powers in Italy, things are going to come back, and Serie A will be the best football league in the world.

Spanish La Liga Representative: The Happening "Manuel Traquete"

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    The La Liga
    The La Liga

    When a certain league features the best players in the world, the best managers in the world and the two most successful and most popular European football clubs, it must be considered the best league in the world.

    With all the five nominees for FIFA’s Player of the Year Award (Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi Hernandez, Andrés Iniesta, and Kaka) and all the key players of the Spanish team that won the Euro 2008 and the World Cup 2010 (except Torres), all eyes will be focused on La Liga this season.

    Barcelona and Real Madrid have the best players in the world within their ranks, and also two of the best managers in the world: José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, the last two managers who won the Champions League. With so much quality in both teams, the title race promised to be an intense affair and the two El Classicos are certainly the two most awaited matches of the season for football fans all over the world.

    However, despite the general misconception, the Spanish league is not only Barcelona and Real Madrid. True, these teams clearly dominated last season, but it was because they were incredibly strong, not because the rest of the teams was weak.

    Atletico Madrid has a very powerful team, led by Diego Forlán (the best player of the 2010 World Cup) and Kun Aguero, and they are the current Europa League champions (having defeated Liverpool and Fulham). Many experts tip them as possible dark horses in the title race this season. In the last two seasons, they beat Guardiola’s dream team twice.

    There’s also Sevilla, who has won two Uefa Cups in the past five years and has such illustrious players as Jesus Navas, Kanouté, and Luis Fabiano. They beat Real Madrid in the league last season, and knocked Barcelona out from the Copa del Rey. Valencia, despite losing Silva and Villa, seems pretty strong this season, and will be another team making life difficult for Barcelona and Real Madrid at the top.

    Sure, in the end either Barcelona or Real Madrid will almost certainly win the league, but they won’t have an easy path.

    In the Premier League, the top teams are almost expected to destroy the minnows (at the end of last season, Chelsea beat Stoke City 7-0 and Wigan 8-0, and started this season by beating Blackpool and Wigan 6-0). In La Liga, that just doesn’t happen; Barcelona and Real Madrid are the strongest teams, but they have their work cut out for them in every game.

    Like Hercules showed recently, teams in Spain know how to play football and can always surprise the two giants. Even in Barcelona’s glorious sextuple year, they lost five games in the league, which proves that there are no easy opponents.

    La Liga is often “accused” of being a two-horse race, but the Premier League, regarded by many as the best league, is too. We all know (except some overconfident rival fans) that in the end either Chelsea or Manchester United will win the league.

    And the difference between the top teams and the rest is much bigger than in La Liga. No one is very surprised when Chelsea beats Wigan 8-0. In Spain, Barcelona, and Real Madrid simply can’t win by that margin; the average level is much superior.

    In England, there are six/seven very good teams and the rest of the teams can rarely cause surprises and are often steamrolled. Last season, even the difference between the two top teams and the third-best team was an example of La Liga’s overall quality: while in the Premier League,

    Arsenal, who finished third, lost the four matches against Chelsea and Manchester United and didn’t even put up a decent fight, Valencia and Sevilla (third and fourth in La Liga) both managed to take points off Barcelona and Real Madrid and always put up good fights.

    In addition, La Liga also features the most attractive football.

    Barcelona is widely considered to be the most entertaining team in the world, and even the small teams usually know how to circulate the ball and play attractive football. The English game is a lot more physical and thus (at least in my opinion) not so entertaining to watch.

    A Saragoza vs Malaga match will probably prove to be a very entertaining enjoyable-to-watch match, while a Stoke City vs Fulham match is likely to be a pretty boring match. Arsenal is probably the only exception in England, as they try to emulate the Barcelona style of play. However, their lack of success doesn’t inspire other teams to try and play the same way, which has to some extent hurt the English National team.

    It is clear the Spanish style, so to say, has brought much more success than the English style. Spain’s ability to maintain and control possession has led them to the World Cup title, while England’s inability to do so has, in the eyes of many analysts, ruined their chances.

    If more teams played like Arsenal, English players would have a ball possession “culture” that would significantly improve their chances at international events.

    Even at the club level, Spanish clubs have enjoyed more success recently. Since 2000, Spain has four Champions League titles, and four Uefa Cup/Europa League titles. Plus, Valencia has reached the Champions League final twice.

    In the same period, England has won two Champions League (plus four final appearances), and one Uefa Cup.

    Only Liverpool and Manchester United have captured European trophies for England over the last decade, while in Spain Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, and Atletico Madrid have all won European trophies in the same period. Matches like the 2009 Champions League final show the limitations of the English game (compared to the Spanish); Barcelona’s total football proved too much for a star-filled Manchester United team to handle. They just couldn’t find an answer to Barcelona’s possession style.

    I could go on forever, but to sum up: La Liga has a lot more star power, the quality of football is better and its clubs have enjoyed incredible success in Europe over the last decade. I guess it’s a matter of taste (everyone can prefer a certain league over another), but, in my opinion, La Liga is clearly the best league right now.

German Bundesliga Representative: No Nonsense "Vampy Archer"

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    The German Bundesliga Shield
    The German Bundesliga Shield

    The Most Profitable League:

    I know that many of you would be saying English Premier League is the most profitable league, but the money talks are not carried on in streets but on the tables. The economic reports which were presented on the table show that Bundesliga made £146.1m of profit for 2008-09 season, while the best league English Premier League made £79 million.

    Now, the revenues made by English Premier League stands ahead of all the leagues. The second best in generating revenues is Bundesliga, which is followed by Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A with a long distance to cover.

    The success of Bundesliga clubs is that they do not splash the cash on wage-structure. Of course, they spend on that too to remain competitive, but they don’t lose heads on splashing cash on wages. English Premier League made an additional £49 million in revenues department, but spent £132 million more on player wages!

    That’s ridiculous and a total disaster.

    Deloitte’s correspondent Dan Jones advised English Premier League to look at Bundesliga for learning a trade of how to run successful club that stays in profit.

    Competitive League:


    I have read many articles on the comparisons of leagues, and I am stunned at one thing that people consider Ligue1 as the most competitive league! Some people would show the spark of genius by saying Spanish La Liga is the most competitive league.

    How a league can be classified as competitive where Lyon managed to win the league for seven consecutive years? How a league can be tagged as competitive when there are two Ferraris and 18 bicycles?

    Now, as a “football fan” you might be thinking that Bayern Munich is the team that wins Bundesliga every year, which is not the case, and if you think like that then I am sorry you are media-victimized!

    Since the advent of English Premier League back in 1991, EPL has given us just four champions. Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Blackburn. While, in that time span Bundesliga gave five; Borussia Dortmund, Stuttgart, Kaiserslautern, Werder, and Bayern.

    This “four” and “five” might not be a huge numerical difference but if you dig the holy grave then Schalke 04 lost the title twice and Bayer Leverkusen thrice in the last week of the league. How many times did that happen in EPL? Once. Newcastle losing with legendary rant of Kevin Keegan. Moreover, Kaiserslautern claimed the title in 1998 coming from the second league. You wanna bet me on Blackpool winning the title this year?!

    European Class:


    Gone are the days when La Liga used to send classy Deportivo La Coruna in Champions League and Serie A had a mighty grip with its ever-present teams. Now, the giants have fallen, and names have disappeared on the pages.

    In the EPL it has been same, boring big four, which appear in Champions League every year—barring one or two occasions.

    Same “old witches” Chelsea, boring “plastic children,” Arsenal, biggest “historic clowns,” Liverpool, and mighty “bloody-suckers” Manchester United.

    On the other side, since the time when Bundesliga was deprived of the fourth Champions League spot when Manchester United beat Bayern Munich in the CL Final, they still have managed to send 1860 Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Hertha Berlin, Werder Bremen, Schalke04, Stuttgart, Borussia Dortmund, HSV, and recently Wolfsburg to the Champions League group stage in that time span. I think it says it all.

    Solvency:


    Serie A had a stainful and shameful “Calciopoli Affair” recently. The teams got bantered in every way. But, I commend the very teams for making a stand, and coming to their senses quickly. They remain solvent now, and that’s a good thing but still the cracks can be seen as Juventus is in no way a Europa League team, but a Champions League contender yet they have to wait.

    EPL had a huge “project” in Leeds United. It was like they came, they saw, they conquered, they fumbled, they failed—miserably. It has taken one decade for Leeds to come in to pieces again, and to be able to knock at the door of the English Premier League.

    In Germany, Borussia Dortmund were hit with a financial crisis recently. I repeat, crisis. Schalke04 was found in some economic storm as well. But there is a big, big difference in “CRISIS” and “ADMINISTRATION.”

    In last three years, nearly 15 teams have been near or in administration in England.

    Why are we discussing all this, again? Bundesliga is by far the better league than its counterparts. You talk about stars we give you stars and future stars. You talk about solvency, we have it. You talk about European championship representaion, we have it in abundance. You ask about youth policies, we are second to none in that. You enquire on making money, we are rich!

    Just because, you don’t watch Bundesliga on your television doesn’t mean in any single way that Bundesliga is a lower league, and neither does it means that you can’t watch it on live streams.