The debate over which league is the best has long divided soccer fans everywhere. This discussion was reignited after Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in the 2018 Champions League final. Is Messi and Ronaldo’s La Liga the best or do the English Premier League’s many big teams make it better? Here are three reasons for either league being the best and most fun to watch.
La Liga is the Best Liga
La Liga is the world’s most famous league because it hosts the biggest and most exciting rivalry in history: Real Madrid vs Barcelona, el clásico. These teams, which dominated the past two decades of European soccer, have two of the best players to ever grace the game in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, respectively. Iconic names like Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane preceded them. There is no more exciting tie than this one, with 100 million fans (by conservative estimates) tuning in from around the world. Watching this historic duo compete against one another has always been a spectacle, featuring big goals, hard tackles, red cards and endless controversy.
Conquerors of Europe
Beyond Real Madrid and Barcelona, and unlike their English counterparts, La Liga teams win trophies in Europe. Atletico Madrid and Sevilla have cemented themselves as major forces in recent years. Since 2000, Spanish teams have collectively won 28 European trophies, compared to the English Premier League’s seven. They have long been dominant in Europe, winning more than anyone else. English teams are notorious for their poor performances abroad. This shows a distinct gap in quality between both leagues’ teams. Spanish sides have beaten their English counterparts in 18 out of their last 20 ties. That should settle it.
Supreme technical ability
La Liga’s level of technicality, namely, the high quality of dribbling, passing and possession-based soccer that its 20 teams demonstrate put it on a higher level than all other leagues, especially the English Premier League. While the latter’s gritty and physical nature may excite some, true soccer connoisseurs will appreciate La Liga’s artistry. Teams like Barcelona move the ball around beautifully, working as a unit while relying on the great skills of its individuals. Attacks are built up slowly, tactically and solidly. Rather than just hoofing the ball up the field and running till their lungs burst, La Liga players pass it around, finding spaces and exploiting holes between opposing players. Every game is an orchestra performance. It’s soccer at its best.
The English Premier League is the Best at Soccer
Fast, thrilling, spectacular
The English Premier League is the world’s best league because it offers the most exciting soccer. Even with smaller teams, it is rare that you will see a boring game. This is because attacking and quick-pressing soccer is valued. Players are encouraged to get the ball forward quickly, to catch their opposition off guard. It’s a sight that fans all over the world enjoy. In comparison, La Liga’s teams are happy to pass the ball around in their own half, prioritizing possession over attacking the opposition’s goal. As, in England, there is a strong emphasis on speed and athleticism, English Premier League fans have a tough time getting used to slower soccer elsewhere.
Competitive like nowhere else
Few other leagues, including La Liga, offer the level of competition that the English Premier League does. In the UK, each of the 20 teams can beat one another. This was showcased when, out of nowhere, Leicester City won the league in 2016. They beat a host of soccer giants, with far bigger budgets, after having almost gotten relegated in the previous season. This Cinderella story shows the unpredictability of the English Premier League, which is a large part of its global appeal. The 2017 champions, Chelsea, with a huge budget and star-studded roster, finished fifth in 2018. Unlike in other countries where the big teams thrash everyone else, the English Premier League’s dominant teams are constantly challenged until they fall. There are simply no easy games, which adds to the excitement. Between the 2012/2013 and 2017/2018 seasons, four different teams have won the English Premier League; no other top five European league can say the same. The English Premier League simply offers unequalled competition.
All the big names
Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham. No other league has as many big clubs as the English Premier League does. They are among the world’s very elite and awash with some of the most exciting talents, such as Paul Pogba, Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Eden Hazard. This ensemble of grand teams allows for huge clashes every other week: United-City, Arsenal-Tottenham, United-Liverpool. These are not only mouth-watering games but also historic and heated rivalries. They make the English Premier League unforgettable. Take out Real Madrid and Barcelona, and La Liga looks much less impressive, which is reflected in the fact it earns 40% less from global television rights than the English Premier League does.
The Bottom Line: Ultimately, the only certainty is that La Liga and the English Premier League are very different. Whether you like seeing the world’s best, Messi and Ronaldo, handle everything that is thrown at them in La Liga or witnessing six top clubs battle it out with one another all season, both leagues are special. Which one do you prefer to watch?