Have The Balances Of Power Shifted In Favour Of The Premier League?
By Katlego Mereko
For the first time in the history of European competitions, this year’s European finals (EUFA Champions League and Europa League) will consist of English teams. Could this mean the La Liga has officially lost its spot as the best men’s football league in the world?
One thing for sure this season is that both the Europa League (EL) and the UEFA Champions League (UCL) will be won by an English team. This is due to an unprecedented event which sees both finals occupied by English teams only, namely; Chelsea & Arsenal in the EL, and Liverpool & Tottenham Hotspur in the UCL.
For the better part of the last decade, debate has been raging in football circles, with fans, journalists and pundits at pains in their attempts to argue which league is the de facto number one league among the top five.
While the Premier League has established itself as the most exciting league due to lucrative Television deals which are virtually evenly distributed across the league, La Liga has proven its superiority in continental competitions.
In the last ten years, Spanish teams have dominated the continental competitions, winning each time they make the finals. If Barcelona and Madrid are accused of owing their superiority in both La Liga and the Champions League by monopolising TV deals in Spain, other “smaller” teams like Atletico Madrid and Sevilla have proven their worth in UCL’s sister competition that they have a claim to stake in the higher echelons of European football.
The last 10 seasons have seen at least one Spanish team appear in the Europa League finals six times, winning it every single time. English teams on the other hand have appeared four times in the competition’s final, winning it two times.
In the biggest club competition in the world, the Iberian nation’s teams lead once more with 6 appearances in the past 10 years seeing them win each time. The English teams fare poorly here too, with four Final appearances yielding only one win.
Clearly Spanish teams have been dominant, adding merit to the arguments that they are products of Europe’s finest league. They won’t be able to stake any claim this year, however, as whatever the outcome, an English team will have their hands on both continental trophies.
Perhaps the fact that en route to the finals, Arsenal beat Spanish outfit Valencia 7-3 on aggregate, and Liverpool upstaged Barcelona 4-3 after two legs, in the EL and UCL respectively, speaks volumes towards the current quality of English teams.
The statistics may prove that La Liga teams have better pedigree in the tournaments, but it appears change, though subtle if insidious, is abound in the power dynamics in the footballing landscape. Will this begin an era of English dominance in Europe?