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King Of The Castle – Top 4 Soccer Leagues In The World
Total Pro Sports – The title of top soccer league in the world is subject to a great deal of opinion and debate. Unlike the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL which generate the highest revenues for their respected sports and in-turn are able to offer the most enticing salaries to attract all the top talent from across the globe, the game of soccer is much different.
Nearly all European countries have successful, revenue generating soccer leagues; the most popular being the Premiership (England), La Liga (Spain), Seria A (Italy), and Bundesliga (Germany). These leagues are able to attract and bid for top talent from all continents, especially South America which is known for producing some of the highest quality, most exciting soccer players in the world.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and therefore it makes sense that the amount of quality talent available would far exceed that of football, basketball and hockey. Think of it like picking grapes to make wine, where the grapes are athletes and the wine is the league. One vine might contain enough quality grapes to make one good bottle of wine, but a vineyard will produce enough quality grapes to make many good bottles of wine.
Soccer League Rankings:
Premiership – I think many would agree that the English Premiership or EPL is currently the top league in the world. The league offers fans a fast-paced, exciting brand of football. The Premiership’s popularity shows no sign of slowing down. Television ratings from around the globe are substantial and international investors are all trying to get a piece of the action.
The league was previously known for a kick and run style, or “long ball” style, with not much skill to boot. This image quickly changed in the mid 90’s with the success of teams like Manchestor United, Liverpool and NewCastle on the European stage. The league now showcases some of the most exciting players in the world in Ronaldo from Portugal, Drogba from Ivory Coast, and Torres from Spain, just to name a few.
With England failing to qualify for Euro 2008, many experts questioned the talent of the English players, and if this was an indication of the potential downfall of the EPL. In the 2007/08 season, three of the four semi-finalists in the champion’s league represented the EPL, with Chelsea and Manchestor United eventually doing battle in final. Although it is difficult to base a leagues success on the outcomes of these tournaments, it simply shows that the EPL bolsters the top teams in Europe. It is difficult to understand that with all the talent and experience in the EPL, the England national team has hired Italian Fabio Capello to run the show.
- Excitement: 5/5 – fast paced, exciting soccer
- Technical: 3.5/5 – A lot of kick and run, and scrambling
- Competitiveness: 4/5 – Arsenal, Chelsea, Man U, and Liverpool make for exciting finishes
- National Talent: 3/5 – Nearly all English stars play in the EPL, but due to the poor performances on the international level, many have questioned if these players are truly world class.
Seria A – The Italian League was unquestionably regarded as the top league in the world throughout the early to mid 90’s. The downfall of the league was due to the heavy focus on the defensive style of the game, which is a characteristic the Italian’s have been stamped with for decades. This drastically slowed down the speed of the game, and ultimately led to low scoring games, that were simply not as exciting as the EPL.
The recent match fixing scandal also gave a black eye to Italian football prior to the 2006 World Cup. Seria A’s champions Juventus were stripped of their titles and relegated to Seria B. AC Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina were also deducted points for the upcoming season. This ultimately hurt the competitiveness of Seria A as Inter ran away with championship.
Italy’s dramatic 2006 World Cup win proved to the world that the talent in Italian soccer is still a top the world. With the summer signing of Ronaldihno from Barcelona, Ricardo Quaresma from FC Porto, the return of Gianluca Zambrotta from Barcelona, along with many more additions, Seria A should be a top product for all soccer fans.
- Excitement: 3.5/5 – defensive style and tactical
- Technical: 4.5/5 – Possession style play, great build-ups, and skillful play from mid-level teams
- Competitiveness: 4/5 – Inter, Milan and Juventus have been atop for year, but teams like Roma have the ability to be part of the mix.
- National Talent: 5/5 – World cup winners, and a country that only selected players from Seria A for national duty. Nearly all Italian talent is showcased in Seria A.
La Liga – Over the past few years, La Liga was considered to be the top league in the world for many. After the match fixing scandal in Italy, many players, including world cup winners Zambrotta and Cannavaro made the move to Spain. The league showcased some of the most exciting talent in the world with the likes of Messi, Ronaldihno, Robinho, David Villa, Henry and Eto just to name a few.
The league was able to bring the fast paced excitement we have seen in the EPL, combined with the skill and elegance showcased in Seria A. Barcelona and Real Madrid will always be the big two teams in the league, but over the past few years, teams like Valencia, Sevilla and Espanyol have challenged for the title. When a league can develops small teams developed through home grown talent that can compete with the huge multi-million dollar clubs, the result is competitive and entertaining futbol week after week.
With Spain’s Euro 2008 triumph, the country has revealed to the world that the amount of young and skilled players in La Liga is worth watching. If I had to argue why I would put La Liga behind Seria A, I would just point to the amount of world class players that have transferred to other leagues this year, and the effect it may have.
- Excitement: 4.5/5 – Fast paced possession style futbol, that can be both slow and explosive
- Technical: 4/5 – Great goals and build-up. Spanish players are known for their technical abilities
- Competitiveness: 3.5/5 – Madrid and Barcelona are always favorites, and the only way this league becomes competitive is if these two teams slip up (which has happened in recent years).
- National Talent: 4/5 – Great talent, but many players have joined the competitors
Bundesliga – I have not had the opportunity to watch much of the Bundesliga games. Not many games are broadcasted in North America, and when they are, it seems that it is always Bayern Munich games.
It has been difficult for the Bundesliga to gain national exposure, as networks prefer to broadcast EPL and La Liga games. It seems that the problem with German futbal is that the league has giant Bayern Munich and the rest of the teams are far behind (Bayern finished 10 points ahead of second place in the 2007/08 campaign). This leads to predictable results, and less excitement.
- Excitement: 3.5/5 – Fast paced soccer, but not very attractive at times
- Technical: 3/5 – Other than the top teams, the rest of the league play a very direct, hard tackling style the German’s are known for
- Competitiveness: 2.5/5 – Bayern is always the heavy favorite, and it seems that the real battle it for second place.
- National Talent: 4/5 – Most German stars play in the Bundesliga.