In comparing these various brands of ‘the beautiful game’ we should consider the many factors that produce them great individually. The history, the present and the near future are all crucial in contrasting these various brands of and eventually creating a perception of whether one does stand above the others.
The first and often the most favored method of fans comparing championships, who gets the best players? The natural assumption third , is that Spain hold the upper hand in this argument; especially considering that both World (Ronaldinho) and European (Fabio Cannavaro) Players of Year play in La Liga. Also Spain can boast many other great talents; Madrid have van Nistelrooy, Raul, Robinho and Beckham, Barca can boast Ronaldinho, Deco, Messi, Eto’o and Zambrotta. Other clubs have similarly immense performers, David Villa and Joaquin Sanchez at Valencia, Riquelme at Villarreal to mention but a few.
Italy can boast a similarly impressive list of galacticos, however, possibly because of the more pedestrian nature of Serie A the players have a tendency to be of a slightly more complex age. Internazionale (or Inter) boast the most impressive roster; Crespo, Ibrahimovic, Veron, Stankovic, Figo and Samuel all ply there trade for the Nerazzurri. Their city rivals Milan also have a cornucopia of stars; despite losing their talisman Andriy Shevchenko to Chelsea in the summertime, they have one world beater in Riccy Kaka’. Also players as renowned as Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta and Alberto Gilardino front a cast which has talent enough to challenge for any trophy. Also worth mentioning is that the Milan rear-guard still contains the legendary Paulo Maldini as captain. With the shadow of Calciopoli hanging over the Italian top flight, what ought to be mentioned is the exodus from Serie A that occurred over the summer saw a lot of their finest individuals leave the division.
Zambrotta and Thuram left Juventus for Barcelona, likewise Fabio Cannavaro and Emerson joined their Bianconieri coach Fabio Capello in Madrid, and former Serie A favourites like Alessandro del Piero, Gigi Buffon, Pavel Nedved and David Trezeguet have all made a decision to stay loyal to the old lady and ply their trade in Serie B for a season. As mentioned, Shevchenko also left the Rossoneri for Chelsea.
Whilst discussing Chelsea we must clearly outline that they are the major player in European football today. The premise that currently exists in football is that, when it comes to the transfer market, the Premiership champions are the team that all others must follow. As a result of seemingly unlimited funds stumped up by their Russian oligarch owner, Roman Abramovich, Chelsea have amassed a team of stars to complement any other club on the globe. With Terry and Lampard already present prior to the Russian benefactor’s input, players like Arjen Robben, Didier Drogba, Joe Cole and, as discussed, Shevchenko. The Premiership can also boast a number of the world’s finest players in Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas at Arsenal; Rooney, Rio and Ronaldo at Manchester United and Liverpool’s talismanic skipper Steven Gerrard.
The important thing to outline when you compare the undoubtedly huge talents on show in these various leagues is that although we have been examining them from the perspective of now, the near future is also an essential factor. As we discussed Serie A does have a tendency to boast more seasoned galacticos whereas the Premiership can argue that, in Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Cesc Fabregas, they have many of the most promising talent. Spanish football may possibly also argue that their spread is encompasses youth, with youngsters such as Sergio Aguero and Fernando ‘el Nino’ Torres at Atletico, Lionel Messi at Barca and something name to watch in Matias Fernandez, a Chilean playmaker due to join Villarreal in January.
Football in the Twenty First Century is far more than the game it was in previous decades. It is now a business, and something of the world’s biggest at that. Transfer prices are now so that it appears any ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’ is worth ï¿½15 million. Player’s wages also have experienced astronomical rises. This is to the extent that ï¿½3 million per year is not considered to be a completely outrageous wage for a top international player. With the expenses to clubs continually rising, somebody is required to fulfill these extravagant fiscal demands.
Sponsorship, television rights and marketing revenue are actually utilized by top clubs which are now selling a ‘brand’ rather than a sport. From product association to shirts emblazoned with trade names, the marketing aspect of major clubs and leagues is key to the strength therein.
Annually an accountancy firm called Deloitte release details of top European club’s financial incomes on the previous season. Essentially a ‘rich-list’ of sides, comparing their viability and market strength in the current football world. The most recent edition of this list is from the 2005 season and the zenith of the list is nearly totally dominated by our ‘big three leagues’.
The 2005 rankings dictate that the world’s market leader in football terms is currently Real Madrid. The prior years had been dominated by the Manchester United marketing machine; however the Castilian club took the mantle from their English rivals. A lot of this change in fortunes has been deposit to the ‘David Beckham factor’.
Former England skipper David Beckham is really as well-known for his private life as he is for his football. Married to a ‘Spice-Girl’, the midfielder looks similar to a pop star than a footballer, sporting numerous tattoos, continually outrageous hair styles and a multiplicity of product endorsement contracts. Referred to as being the ‘most photographed sportsman ever’, Beckham is worth his weight in Euros to his club side. The truth that Manchester United, who previously topped the rich-list, were dethroned by Beckham’s new club Real Madrid is regarded as proof the man’s value from the marketing perspective. However, it is worth mentioning that Madrid’s on-field performances have declined while their finances improved, and a far more recent list may also hint at Beckham’s own on-pitch decline as a force in world football.
The most notable ten teams in the list are, with the exception of Bavarian giants Bayern Munich, all from Spain, Italy or England. Almost all is dominated by the Premiership as we see Manchester United (2nd), Chelsea (5th), Liverpool (8th) and Arsenal (10th), this is accompanied by three Serie A clubs in Milan (3rd), Juventus (4th) and Inter (9th) and Spain’s La Liga only has two top ten entries, despite Real topping the list being followed by rivals Barcelona in 6th. In viewing these figures, we must firstly emphasise that they are not as up-to-date as we want, also should a more recent list be compiled we’d surely see the effect of Calciopoli on the Italian sides.
The extent to which a league entertains depends vastly upon the way you like your football. The three brands all vary in their traits greatly and taste is really a vital factor within this, after all, one man’s pineapple is another man’s poison. Main differences in these leagues are inherent of the design of football played in each respective country. Although on the surface this may seem obvious, but when we think about the extent to which domestic football has become incredibly multicultural, it is positive that these leagues maintain their own identity despite this.
The brand of football played in the leagues differs greatly. As stated earlier, the Italian game is one based around technique, control of possession and patience. The cattenaccio of today’s Italian game is not as negative as that of sides through the mid-twentieth century, wherein five defenders would be used to enforce a stringent man marking system with a ‘libero’ slotting in behind as a ball-playing sweeper. Unfortunately the machine in its original state is now outdated, given that both the zonal marking system has almost uniformly end up being the status quo of the present day game and that sweepers are now very scarcely employed. However, the football played in Serie A today is one that echoes this system.
Calcio is frequently regarded by those in Northern Europe to be dull, but those closer to the Mediterranean as being a purists game that encapsulates an increased standard of football than any other. Football in Italy has been likened to a casino game of chess, with a far more systematic approach than that of other countries. Defenders are often as gifted in possession as any other position, a trait not found elsewhere in football. The style football played uses lots of short passes designed to open pockets of space, instead of longer balls targeting taller forwards. The game requires a very high level of technical ability, with the art of controlling and passing paramount.
Detractors of the Italian game often point its insufficient pace and time-consuming attacking play as its flaws. Goals are notoriously tricky to find, a fact further embellished by examining Luca Toni’s impressive thirty-one goal season this past year, the first player to score over thirty goals in Serie A for 48 years. As such many choose the busyness of leagues just like the Premiership.
The Premiership is a very fast and furious division; emphasis on strength, pace and drive. This is not withstanding the fact that a very high standard of football is seen in England’s top flight, however more often than not the game is dictated in a very challenging manner. English football was much maligned in the eighties and nineties for a predominance of ‘long ball’ football. The theory being that long, direct passes into forward areas would create chances for purposefully employed big, physical strikers. This style was often thought to not be graceful and was lambasted by critics. Even though the English league has developed since, much like the catenaccio roots of Serie A, this style still exists somewhat today; even league champions Chelsea have already been criticised for employing this type of style. Despite not being as higher-level of technical level, the Premiership is frequently billed as being ‘the most exciting league in the world’ due to its non-stop action-packed intensity.
In contrast La Liga includes a style of its entirely. Borrowing much from a South American ethic of flair football, the Spanish league is famed because of its fast, flowing attacking brand of play. Spain’s Primera Division has won many admirers over recent years, firstly because of the Zidane inspired galacticos of Madrid and more recently the exploits of Ronaldinho Gaucho for Barcelona. The emphasis in Spain, a lot more than any in Europe, is on attacking play. Formations are based around ball playing midfielders and skilful wingers. This does produce a very open make of football; however this does often expose defensive frailties. With the occasional exception (Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol) Spanish defenders are not generally as strong as their counterparts in farther reaches of the game. This combined with the ability of attackers does make La Liga very enticing from the spectator point of view.
Not withstanding the stereotypes that we have examined, you can find clear exceptions to every rule, and this instance no different. Despite being usually solid and defence-orientated, Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan have already been praised for his or her attacking football in Serie A. Also, and potentially the finest example of this, there’s Arsenal. Arsene Wenger’s men continually produce some of the most free flowing football in world football today. However, for obvious reasons, the North London outfit could be reasoned to function as exception to the rule as they have a side almost totally dominated by foreign players. To the extent that, because the departures of Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole, it really is unlikely an Englishman will, if the Gunners be at full strength, feature at all.
Why is a league exciting is frequently based around not merely the vastness of the occasion or the protagonists involved, but the closeness of the competitors. In every leagues, much like walks of life, there are historically bigger sides with larger financial acumen, but where there is absolutely no competition, there is absolutely no spectacle.
The Premiership has been dominated by the wealth of Chelsea in the last two seasons, not withstanding the point that it takes more than just money to dominate a league (though it helps) and it is a credit to both players and coaching staff that they have taken days gone by two successive titles with consummate ease. This year, however is painting a different picture. The wily old Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is currently producing the outcomes that his talented selection of stars can handle, and at this point in time stand a commendable eight points free from Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.
Beyond the top two, we see a thing that has been apparent for quite a while in the Premiership. The gap between your top teams and the chasing pack could possibly be justifiably described as chasm-like. Previously there was a high four that added Liverpool and Arsenal to the present table-topping rivals, but unfortunately for the neutral this gap has extended to these clubs as well. However, this does create so what can be observed as almost a ‘second league’ in which clubs behind Manchester United and Chelsea vie for the rest of the to places in Europe’s prestigious Champions League.
This chasing pack includes both Liverpool and Arsenal, followed in strength of squad by Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur but effectively any other side that can put together an excellent run of results can infiltrate the group, as was the case with last season’s surprise package of Wigan Athletic, who almost secured a UEFA Cup berth despite being touted as relegation favorites prior to the season began.
Spain can also turn to the domination of 1 club in the last two seasons as being the main debating topic. Barcelona’s back-to-back titles have not, however, received anything like the treatment that Chelsea’s similar achievements have. As the ‘boo-boys’ have been out in effect ‘pooh-poohing’ the wealth, attitude and style (or lack thereof) the Premiership’s title holders, Barcelona’s success has been lauded as a ‘victory for style over adversity’. From many purists’ perspectives, the brand of flowing football that Barca exhibit is quite pleasing on the eye and the truth that Los Cules are believed footballing royalty, as opposed to the nouveau riche of Mourinho’s men, could be a factor.
The Primera Liga at present still see’s the Catalonian giants on top, a mini-renaissance from their bitter rivals Real Madrid has been temporarily halted as the surprise package of Sevilla look to ‘upset the apple cart’. Traditional bridesmaids Valencia appear to have moved back to a position more comparable to an usher as Atletico Madrid and Zaragoza enjoy good form. Unlike the Premiership, La Liga will not usually purvey the gulf between the top sides and their competitors. Such may be the nature of Spanish football, that although unexpected, the most notable teams are more often beaten by their less illustrious competitors.
In the Italian top flight, again the competitiveness is suffering from the match fixing scandal. From the season’s opening, it seemed that it might be a two horse race. In previous seasons this has been the case, with Juventus battling Milan for lo scudetto. However, with Milan docked points and Juventus having to deal with life in Serie B, it has left Roma and Inter to fight for the title. Inter, the perennial underachievers of calico, have amassed among the world’s strongest squads and as such currently stand an obvious distance before their rivals. Nine consecutive wins for the nerazzurri (an Italian record) sees Mancini’s men looking down the barrel of these first actual title (these were handed the 2006 title by default of being the highest placed side guilty of no wrongdoing in the Calciopoli scandal) in over a decade.
Upon first wanting to tackle this question, I can honestly state that I did so not conceive quite what I was undertaking. All three leagues are packed with all things that produce football the worlds biggest, and for me best, sport. Rather than scrutinized with a cynical eye, we ought to really be embracing these bastions of passion, flair and ability, rejoicing in the pleasure that an incredible number of fans get from these three small collections of twenty teams. However, I lay out on a journey, bảng xếp hạng la liga a journey that took longer than anticipated, but a journey yet to root out which I believed to be the very best.
If that assessment leaves all the leagues attributes equal then your next separates. Money and marketing are bigger in the Premier League than in virtually any other non-American sport and the financial credence there eclipses whatever Spain or Italy can boast. However, the argument in this situation must remain, how important (bragging rights aside) may be the money? That leads us to question, is money not potentially the ultimate undoing of the leagues? Using Italy as a prime example, the fantastic football broadcaster James Richardson cites this because the reason for Serie A’s downturn in fortunes; he believes that money that has been spent round the turn of the century was effectively ‘promised’ funds for projected future television rights that sadly never materialized. However, in the Premiership, the money just keeps rolling in.
Finally we draw to the final issue of competitiveness sufficient reason for Calciopoli forcing Serie A to dismount its jockey leaving a two horse race. In this issue I am setting my stall out early and backing the Premiership. Without disrespect to Real Madrid, but I cannot see Barcelona being usurped this year. From watching football for several years now, you figure out how to know when a resurgence is threatening, and Madrid’s isn’t that. Manchester United however is the English top flight, for the very first time in a while, looks as if it will draw to a truly nail-biting conclusion.
Overall, as I have mentioned throughout, it really is with regret that I concede that Italy, given all their difficulties, cannot compete. This upsets me, since it was Serie A where I gained much of my development as a football supporter, spending years enjoying the delights of the Mediterranean game, watching exotically monikered players with equally glamorous abilities. It really is true that the common Italian top flight footballer is of higher fundamental ability than his English counterpart, but the stigma of scandal is too apparent in today’s Serie A climate for them to be considered. It is my hope that we visit a renaissance in Italian football and that on the coming decade we visit a nation rejuvenated and again rivaling their Spanish and English counterparts.
So it comes to the ultimate two, and in truth it could not be tighter. However, it’s the Premiership that i believe to function as best. It is by the width of a flee’s reproductive organs, however the Premiership gets the lot. It has, for me, probably the most exciting crop of young players, probably the most competitive title chase and the very best supporters. It gets the biggest worldwide audiences and is (marginally) the strongest nation in the worldwide transfer market. This is simply not to detract from La Liga, a league of endless attacking improvisation, flair and adventure, a league which has history, has impossibly gifted players, has Ronaldinho, but its flaws are too clear. The hapless defending is one such example of this and too bigger issue to be igno