EYE ON LA LIGA: Messi’s Ballon d’Or, a billion viewers for one match is proof that La Liga is the best

A lot of debates have arisen in recent times regarding which football league is the best in the world, and depending on which league your favourite team play in, there is no luck of options preferred from among the top European footballing nations.

A lot of debates have arisen in recent times regarding which football league is the best in the world, and depending on which league your favourite team play in, there is no luck of options preferred from among the top European footballing nations.

It’s widely accepted that the English Premier League and the Spanish Primera Division are the top two leagues. Barcelona’s UEFA Champions League victory over Manchester United creates even more debate as it appeared the Premier League was the stronger league.

Which league is the best in the world? There’s no right answer and there are arguments to be made on either side.
This is one debate that you wouldn’t want getting involved in, especially with those who push the case for the EPL.

In the last ten years, Spain’s Primera League has produced six Ballon d’Or winners, which to me is an obvious indication that it’s the best league in the world, though this view is open for debate because the EPL followers have other ideas.

And in the same period, the Premier League and Italy’s Serie A have each produced two winners. This means Spain has produced two more “best players in Europe” than both England and Italy combined.

Those who believe the EPL is the best, and there are probably the majority, will tell you that there are literally players from every football playing nation playing in the premiership and that there is no other league quite like it, which is true but does that make it the best?

It’s also true that the English Premiership is watched in many countries around the world, compared with other leagues, from Asia to America, Europe to Africa and the Middle East. And it has the best sponsorship and marketing deals for football in the world.

But despite all that, the last time England won a major championship was 43 years ago when they won the Fifa Word Cup and you wonder when they’ll ever win something again.

In contract, Spain is the reigning champion and Barcelona had an unbelievable season last year. The Spanish national team has been and is still one of the top national teams on the planet, despite their failure to turn that into winning as many tournaments as their potential probably deserves.

They and Brazil are favourites to win the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

All the best footballers of recent times from Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Rivaldo, Ronaldo Nazário de Lima, Fabio Canavarro, Beckham to Ruud Van Nistelrooy among others have all played in La Liga.

Real Madrid’s buying the services of some of the current best players on the planet such as Ronaldo, Kaká and Karim Benzema in the transfer window is too another indication that the Spanish league has the pull for the best players than any other league.

Barcelona did beat everyone in their path as they got the Spanish treble, and have arguably four of the best players in the world in Messi, Ibrahimovic, Iniesta and Xavi.

Nonetheless, much as they have the potential to do something great, I don’t think Pep Guardiola’s team are going to have as good of a season as they did last year, as no team in the world can do what they did last season again.

Messi factor
While the main reason for Barcelona’s success was that the team gelled together perfectly as a unit, there were over the course of the season many stellar individual performances which helped the team on its way.

But there was one player who stole the show throughout the course of the season. His name is Lionel Messi, the little Argentinean wizard, who dominated proceedings from start to finish. His statistics of his dominance are staggering.

He contributed 38 goals with 24 assists in all competitions. That makes him directly responsible for 62 of the team’s 156 goals in all competitions. He was also the Champions League’s top scorer with nine goals.

But the statistics are not the only measure of Messi’s brilliance throughout the season. He has risen to the occasion in almost every big match. In the first El Clasico against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou, Messi was purposefully fouled throughout the game by Real players who saw that as the only way to stop him.

In the second Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu, Messi was in his element. Shifted to a relatively unfamiliar role in the centre of the park [a position he again played last Sunday at the Nou Camp] in order to take advantage of Madrid’s slow(wish) central defenders, Messi ripped them apart.

He scored two goals and made one wonderful assist to round off a superb Barcelona performance that saw them run out 6-2 winners. And who’s about to forget his headed goal against Manchester United in the final of Champions League.

He’s criticised for his lack of heading abilities but even England and Newcastle legendary striker Alan Shearer would admire that one.

For one reason or another, it’s reported that a global audience of ONE BILLION awaited last weekend’s El Clasico in salivating admiration! Which other club fixture comes near that kind of attraction? It can only be from La Liga.

nku78@yahoo.com

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