Which is the best football league in the world? This is a question which keeps ardent football fans busy. Though the English Premier League might be more popular than La Liga, or Seria A for that matter, judging a league based on it’s popularity alone would be naive. A closer look at the top contenders throws light on this subject.
English Premier League
The Premiership with its rising television ratings and infusion of massive foreign investment is the obvious choice of many pundits. It boasts of a frantic pace of football, often laden with grueling physical battles. Many big names who came with hefty price tags to England unfortunately left with nothing but a tattered reputation. Although critics say that the Premier League is too physical, statistics suggest that in 2005-09 the number of fouls committed per match were the lowest in the world.
Traditionally EPL has been a four horse race, there are always teams who have gone on to disturb the hierarchy and clinch Champions League spots and even cause a few upsets. Teams such as Stoke City, a menace at home, make encounters pretty exciting. The likes of Everton, Aston Villa and Tottenham are no pushovers either. As far as Champions League is concerned the English teams have dominated it in recent years, being well represented in the knockout stages.
To be fair La Liga does portray the beautiful side of the game and has a lot of art, color, passion and vigour. Apart from this, off late all the bigwigs of footballing fraternity have either spurned out from this league or have migrated here: Messi, Kaka, Ronaldo, Fabregas, Villa to name a few. On the other hand, a close inspection reveals that these names are from either Barcelona or Real Madrid, which is why La Liga has been often called a two horse race. Last time a team apart from these two won the league was in 2004 when Valencia triumphed. Also, the drop in quality is evident as you move further down the table, an area where EPL fares better.
That said, lack of coverage and inconvenient match timings dont help its cause. Those who do follow it closely, say that the La Liga stakes a strong claim at being the best in the world.
Italian Serie A
Once the strongest in the world, Serie A has fallen off its perch with constant match fixing scandals, increasing average age of players and an excessively defensive mindset. It’s true that Italian football lacks pace of late, but the slow build up of the game often engages the audience. The slick triangle passing especially among the top clubs makes for a spectacle. It’s this style and the club loyalty of Italian players that has allowed Italy to fare well in the World Cups (except the last one). Teams like AC Milan and Inter Milan are considered one of the toughest oppositions in Europe and foreign teams fear a trip to the San Siro in European competitions. Sadly, the fall of Juventus has reduced its popularity considerably, and made a good league seem average.
The 2011 season has seen a somewhat surge in the quality as well as competitiveness of the league. The Juventus renaissance has made the league interesting with as many as 7 teams including the likes of Milan, Inter Milan, Lazio, AS Roma, Udinese and Napoli vying for the title.
Not many watch the Bundesliga, in fact not many know if it’s even telecasted or not. The German League is known mostly for its stadiums and brilliant crowds. The gap between powerhouse Bayern Munich and the rest has closed and there are now several teams in the running for the title every year. The problem is its popularity in comparison with the other three, especially outside Germany, which in turn doesn’t attract big investors. But the fact that Germany has finished third in the last two World Cups must have something to do with the Bundesliga as well.
You can look at all kinds of statistics, number of fouls, shots on targets, goals scored but finally it does come down to personal preference. If the others league got as much coverage as the EPL, maybe then we could reach a conclusion.