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La Liga: The most boring competition in Europe?
A few days ago, Real Zaragoza president Eduardo Bandres said: “The Spanish league will be a matter totally and absolutely between two teams, among other things because the system for distributing television rights determines that it will be this way. It is unique in Europe and because of this the Spanish league is one of the most boring in Europe.”
The television channels would beg to differ, as they regularly run adverts or open their coverage of matches from La Liga claiming it is the ‘best league in the world’ with clips of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi running in the background.
But Bandres has a point. Five games in, and the table has an all-too familiar look about it. There are only two clubs left with a 100 percent record – Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Who has scored the most goals? Real and Barca with 16 apiece.
Who has conceded the fewest? Real with two. Barca have let in three.
Which clubs have the most money? Real and Barca are both working on budgets of over 400 million euros, three to four times greater than their nearest rivals. They rake in around half of the money earned from La Liga’s television rights, which are not negotiated on a collective basis.
At least Valencia’s David Villa bucks the trend in the individual goal-scoring charts, topping the rankings with six, but second behind him with five each are Ibrahimovic, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
There are four clubs expected to be mixing it at the top and competing for Spain’s other two Champions League qualification places: Sevilla, Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Villarreal.
Atletico and Villarreal are in the bottom three without a win from their opening matches, and are already 12 and 13 points adrift of Real and Barca respectively. Valencia have slipped down to seventh without a win in their last three outings.
Only Sevilla are putting up a fight, and they lie third with 12 points from a possible 15. They have a squad that boasts Frederic Kanoute, Luis Fabiano and Alvaro Negredo up front, with the likes of Jesus Navas, Diego Capel and Diego Perotti providing the bullets.
They have won six on the trot in all competitions and will provide Real Madrid with their stiffest test yet when Manuel Pellegrini’s side visit the Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday. As things stand, this is Real’s most difficult league clash of the season outside of their home and away battles with Barca.
A victory for Sevilla could signal the start of a genuine challenge from the Andalucians, and add some much needed spice to the title race. A defeat would leave more people agreeing with Bandres.
PHOTO: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates his goal against Real Madrid, May 2, 2009. REUTERS/Juan Medina