The Gap in Quality
The sports world is undeniably interesting. At any time, there will be a plethora of debates, which no one can ever come to a consensus on. Everyone (including me) has their stance. Messi vs. Ronaldo (Ronaldo, obviously), Yankees vs. Red Sox (Yankees, duh), LeBron vs. Michael (MJ takes this and no one can convince me otherwise). However, another of these evergreen debates is which soccer league is better: England’s Premier League or Spain’s La Liga? Let me explain why it’s La Liga.
In this debate, it helps to arrive with facts in tow. It’ll help you win the argument over the screaming Arsenal fan who insists that because the British invented soccer/football in the mid-19th Century, it means that they’re automatically better at it than everyone else. Facts like: La Liga boasts a player roster that is infinitely more talented when it comes to ball handling. What I mean by this is that very good ballhandlers do not stand out in La Liga while they do in the Premier League. Obviously, the elite ones stand out in Spanish football, but they utterly dominate in the English league. For example, James Rodriguez recently joined Everton from Real Madrid. Through just three matches, he has already won Man of the Match three times, he confounds his opponents, he makes passes that his English companions wouldn’t dream about, and he already looks well settled in, which segues perfectly into my next point.
Players arriving in the Premier League from La Liga have a much easier time acclimating to the pace of play than when players move the other way. Obviously, there are exceptions (Cristiano Ronaldo is the most famous, but his transcendent reputation preceded him, so he would’ve succeeded anywhere), but for the most part this rings true. Rodriguez is just one of many examples. David Silva, Juan Mata and Fernando Torres are just a few of countless examples of players who moved to England from Spain and utterly dominated the league. There aren’t nearly as many examples of Premier League players who have played in La Liga, but the majority don’t succeed, like Kieran Trippier, for example. Obviously, there are exceptions, like Gareth Bale and David Beckham, who tore the house down at Real Madrid, while players like Jesus Navas and Nolito failed to make their mark.
The third fact ties well into the first: the Premier League relies more on brute strength, which is not supposed to be a big factor in soccer. Association football, as it’s officially known, is called “The Beautiful Game,” not “The Beat-‘Em-Up Game.” Obviously, physicality is needed in any sport, but the Premier League has always garnered a reputation of being more about size than skill.
So, say what you want, but I believe La Liga is superior to the Premier League. After all, La Liga has dominated European competition since the beginning of the 21st Century. La Liga clubs have won 20 Champions and Europa League titles since the turn of the century (10 & 10) while Premier League clubs have only won 9 (5 & 4). However, I will concede that the gap is closing, and time will tell who comes out on top. But right now, La Liga’s leading head-to-head competition by a wide margin.