La Liga’s Decline

La Liga’s Decline

LEGANES, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 21: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid looks out from the substitutes bench for the La Liga match between Leganes and Real Madrid at Estadio Municipal de Butarque on February 21, 2018 in Leganes, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images )

The two European finals will be played this year by four Premier League teams, a historic achievement. Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur will fight in Madrid for the Champions League throne left by Real Madrid, whereas Arsenal and Chesea will play a London derby in the Europe League final in Baku, Azerbaiyan. It’s not coincidence, it’s the end of an era where La Liga teams were ruling Europe.

We have to go back until 2013 to see a non Spanish football club winning the Champions League trophy. Then, it was a Bundesliga final at Wembley with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund fighting for the European crown. Then, four trophies for Los Blancos and one for Barcelona. But even in the Europa League, 5 out of the last 7 titles were won by La Liga teams, with Sevilla holding three times the trophy and Atlético de Madrid 2. Only Manchester United and Chelsea broke La Liga’s supremacy.

However, things have changed this season and it’s not casual. Premier League are ruling the continent and it’s not only about money, although money is the principal cause. Cristiano Ronaldo quit Real Madrid leaving a big hole in the club and in the competition. Without the Portuguese player, Messi doesn’t have anyone to compete with, and the quality is lower. Besides, many good La Liga players chose to play in the Premier League to win bigger salaries than in their teams.

In the draw between Arsenal and Valencia we could observe the difference in money and power between the two clubs. Only Aubameyang and Lacazette have a market value of over €200M, impossible to compare with Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno. The TV rights give much more money to the British clubs, but also the competition is better organized. While the whole world watches the Premier League games, La Liga struggles to reach Asia and other European countries. Besides, the English stadiums are always packed, whereas in Spain people prefer to watch the matches on TV rather than spending huge amounts of money for a ticket for a game with strange and uncomfortable schedules.

La Liga teams can bounce back, especially Real Madrid and Barcelona, but the average teams in the Premier League will have more power than the rest of Europe. However, these two giants also struggle to get the best players in the recent years, fighting with clubs or countries behind them (PSG or Manchester City). Either signing young players -Real Madrid- or spending huge amounts of money for players that are not stars yet -Barcelona with Démbélé and Coutinho-. Competitors are tough and this has only started.