I can already hear the protests about La Liga. It’s just like the Scottish Premier League on steroids. All the best players outside of Real Madrid and Barcelona are leaving the country because of the massive debts that clubs are carrying. They don’t bother defending over in Spain and players go down under a light wind. La Liga can’t match the Premier League in terms of the pace of play, excitement, drama, and competitiveness, because the entertainment and quality of play are obviously intrinsically linked.
While some of these complaints are actually somewhat legitimate (the first two), they don’t take away from the fact that La Liga is still a brilliant league to watch, regardless that it’ll again be a two horse race for the title this season. Furthermore, is the fact that only two clubs can win the league unique to La Liga anyway?
Looking at the other major leagues across Europe, while it’s true that there are more sides that theoretically have a shot at winning the title at the start of the season, once the seasons begin, it is rare to actually see more than two clubs challenging for the title. Last season Manchester United, Bayern Munich, and Juventus all won their respective leagues in convincing fashion with Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund, and Napoli never putting up much of a serious challenge.
Still not convinced? Well, without further ado, let’s get down to the ten reasons you should watch La Liga this season and we’ll see if I can convert you into a Spanish football fan.
1) Neymar. Everyone has their own opinion of the 21-year-old Brazilian forward, and whether you think he’s destined to become the next Ronaldo or the next Robinho, his talent is undeniable. It will be fascinating to watch how he integrates into this Barcelona side and how he and Messi gel both on and off the football pitch. He certainly proved some doubters wrong in helping Brazil capture the Confederations Cup this summer, against several of his new Barcelona teammates it might be added, and he will want to continue his good form with the World Cup looming this summer. Barcelona president Sandro Rosell invested a lot of money in him, £48.6million to be exact, in order to take some of the weight off Lionel Messi’s shoulders. And he will eager to live up to his billing.
2) Gerardo Martino and the next step for Barcelona. The Argentinian coach is a disciple of Marcelo Bielsa, the former Argentina and Chile manager who left Athletic Bilbao this summer, and Martino will look to reinstate the high intensity pressing game that was a trademark of Barcelona under Guardiola but was somewhat lacking in the last campaign. While many have attributed Barcelona’s defensive frailty last season to the lack of a dominating centre-back, keen observers of the Catalan side’s play will recognize that the lack of consistent pressure applied by the forwards and the midfielders played a large role as well. Martino is a slightly surprising selection considering the fact that he has never coached in Europe, but he was Lionel Messi’s favorite for the job and that counts for a lot. It will be interesting to see how he adapts to the European game and how Barcelona, a side that has captured the imagination of a generation of fans, progresses under their new manager.