It’s hard to judge what is the best league in Europe. The UEFA coefficients does give us an empiric ranking, but that’s based on clubs doing well in the Champions League and the Europa League. League strength? That’s harder to judge and actually measure. Cristiano Ronaldo figures he’s playing in the best league in Europe, the La Liga.
Why? Simple. Skills and tecnique. I learned the elementary and basic rules of football, especially discipline, playing for Manchester United in the English Premier League. The La Liga is better than the Premier League. It’s the best in the world, because it relies on players’ skills and techniques.
There you have it. All the arguments and discussions all solved in a few simple lines. Cristiano Ronaldo may be used to high standards while playing around a super group of teammates at the Real Madrid training facilities every day, but the truth is somewhat different when you look down the La Liga table, South of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Dribbling and passing skills may be a common thing around the Spanish soccer grounds, but the fragile defenses, the slower pace, the lack of tactical discipline cause eyesores on some weekends. England is a different story, with different advantages and disadvantages, just like every other league. Having two Super Teams among the twenty, with one of them a title gobbler the world hasn’t seen in quite some time, doesn’t make you league better.
Ronaldo did have that one amazing season with Manchester United, scoring 31 league goals in 2007-2008. But that was a rarity. He scored 53 goals in 162 matches marking that season off. With Real Madrid? 86 Goals in 79 league matches. The Premier League may have lost some star power and quality these last two seasons, but it would never be that easy on a consistent basis.
The strength of a league isn’t measured only by what the top two teams do. It’s measured by depth, by how tough matches are for the big teams, of how many teams compete for Champions League spots, for Europa League spots, for a title. By how hard it is for great players to shine and be great week in and week out. By how demanding it is to win a title. The Serie A used to be that during the Mid 80’s till the late 90’s. It changed to the La Liga and than the Premier League. Now? There’s too much inequality in these two leagues to judge fairly.
My cup of tea this past two years is the Serie A and the Bundesliga. In a continental point of view, they may not be the best two leagues in Europe. But they’re open, they don’t turn into a two horse race after two months, and they’re on their way up. Cristiano Ronaldo is pulling off another incredible season, statistically most of all, but he isn’t doing it while playing in the best league in Europe. Best team? Maybe, still too early. Best league? No way.