Jan Oblak. SUR
La Liga: undervalued

La Liga: undervalued

If I were the marketing guru for La Liga I would be disputing the EPL's boast of being 'the best league in the world'

Friday, 10 November 2023, 17:10


The laziest assumption in the football world is that Spain's Primera División is the least competitive and most predictable league in Europe.

Recently I attended a seminar with an expert who tossed out the cliché like it was undisputed; it left me mystified and questioned my previous confidence in the speaker's credentials to deal in facts.

I won't give away his nationality, but if he was German, he should have noted that Bayern Munich have won the Bundesliga for the past 11 seasons. If he was French, his argument would have been debased by PSG's nine titles in 11 years. In England, the only question is: Whose turn is it to spar with Manchester City for the Premier League crown?

In England and France, the champions have been Manchester City and PSG for five of the past six years. In Spain, the title hasn't been retained since 2015 and there have been three different champions in the past three seasons.

If I were the marketing guru for La Liga, I would be disputing the EPL's boast of being "the best league in the world". There's certainly an argument that La Liga is far more competitive.

Okay, Bayern and PSG aren't yet top of their respective tables, but we all know the outcome. Manchester City have taken control of the Premier League - and nobody would bet against them.

My esteemed expert ignored the fact that humble Girona are top after almost a third of the season. It's unlikely they have the resources and stamina to remain there, but they have disrupted the market and brought romance.

Both Barcelona and Real Madrid are going through transitional stages. Barça have the most exciting young squad in the world - but with youth, comes uncertainty. It will be some years before the talent truly matures and realises the incredible potential.

Real Madrid are a little more advanced as they replace the old guard and the impact of Jude Bellingham has been phenomenal; however they have been weakened by the injury to Thibaut Courtois and the departure of Karim Benzema. I think they will go to another level next season when Kylian Mbappé finally signs, and teenage superstar Endrick arrives from Brazil.

Sitting almost unnoticed in fourth place is Atlético Madrid. In many ways, they are the best equipped to go the distance. Diego Simeone took some tough decisions a year ago when they dipped from the high standards that he's set over 13 years in the job. He tweaked the tactics and found a system to suit his players.

Atlético have the deepest talent pool, bursting with experience. Unlike their rivals, they don't have anyone in the swansong stage and there's not a reliance on kids. Most of the players are in the peak years of 26 to 33. The likes of Antoine Griezmann and Álvaro Morata are in the best form of their illustrious careers. Goalkeeper Jan Oblak is one of the best in the world. The defence is arguably the toughest in club football. Samuel Lino, Pablo Barrios and Rodrigo Riquelme are emerging talents who are pushing for places.

Simeone has alternatives in every position. If someone drops from the standards he's set, they are sidelined; he's able to refresh the team rather than rely on a defined set of players. Atlético also have a game in hand, so the table isn't a true picture.

So when someone states the 'best league in the world' assertion, you are free to launch the argument.

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