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    The Best League in the World?

    For many years, since the Premier League first opened it's doors back in 1992, a large quantity of football fans have claimed that the English top tier is the best in the World. Yet more recently an increasing percentage are questioning this consensus based upon our clubs' recent poor showings in Europe and the national team's continued lack of form in major tournaments.

    In the European Cup (now Champions League) Spain has produced twice as many winners as England. From an individual perspective only one Premier League based player has ever won the FIFA Player of the Year (now FIFA Ballon d'Or) award. That player was Cristiano Ronaldo, who also finished second and third during his time at Manchester United. Only David Beckham (twice), Thierry Henry (twice), Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres and Alan Shearer have made it into the top three and nobody from the Premier League has entered the list since 2009. Compare this to Spain and Italy who have 20 winners between them.

    The Premier League spends the most money out of any league during transfer windows, with over £850 million spent in this summer's one, so why are our players and clubs underachieving? Take the style of play into consideration and you may find the answer. English clubs used to be direct in their attacking nature but have more recently slowed the tempo down with possession being favoured over the risk of trying to score goals and the potential to lose the ball from that more direct approach. Only Arsenal play with any sort of tempo and don't always consistently play in this style. Compare this with the different approaches of two more successful teams in Europe, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Barcelona play quick passes through triangles, whereas Real Madrid rely more on the counter attack.

    Many of these goals could be contenders for any 'goal of the season' award with the speed of play enough to break down most defences. The English style of play makes it more difficult to get past a defence, thus creating more long range efforts. 

    Yes the goals look good, but you have always got more chance of scoring from close range than long range, therefore proving the Barcelona and Real Madrid methods to be much more efficient. This could well be the reason behind their successes in Europe. Teams can set up to prevent the slow English build up play but it is difficult to stop the likes of Messi and Ronaldo in full flow.

    Our lack of identity is perhaps the reason behind out failings internationally. Most club sides in Spain play with speed and flair, German sides protect the ball and Italian sides set up to defend. In England we have the likes of Arsenal who try to play the Spanish way, Chelsea resemble the Italian way and Manchester United under Louis van Gaal are attempting the German way. When our homegrown players meet up for international duty, Roy Hodgson has the impossible task of trying to blend these styles together and get the best out of everyone, whilst they are having to adapt their natural game they play each week for their clubs.

    The style of play may be in favour of the continental leagues but are they as exciting? Well if you are looking for goals the answer is no. The Bundesliga (1.59 goals per game), La Liga (1.45) and Serie A (1.38) all see the ball hit the back of the net more than the Premier League (1.33). However what we may lack in style and goals is made up for in unpredictability. The Premier League has a closer points difference between the top and bottom teams on average than any of the other 'big four' leagues in Europe. This is certainly the case at the beginning of the 2015/16 season where no side has taken the league by storm. Could you confidently say who will win the Premier League this season?

    Thus the quality of the Premier League may no longer match that of Spain and Germany but it is certainly the most unpredictable. Our league may also be the most expensive to watch, but the sheer case of 'not knowing who will win' is enough to keep the public interested.

    Article by Chris Lincoln

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    Item Reviewed: The Best League in the World? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Chris Lincoln
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