Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla look to continue the reign of Spain in European competition when they face Liverpool in the Europa League final on Wednesday aiming to win the competition for a third consecutive season.
An all-Madrid Champions League final for the second time in three years between Real and Atletico Madrid on May 28 will ensure a Spanish winner of Europe’s premier club competition for a third straight year.
Indeed, until Villarreal’s defeat to Liverpool in the Europa League semis, Spanish clubs had won all 17 of their knockout ties against non-Spanish opposition this season.
Here, AFP Sports looks a five reasons for Spain’s prolonged domination of European competition.
– Top two raise the bar
Barcelona and Real Madrid’s sustained success is the easiest to understand. They are the two richest clubs in the world with the capacity to continually invest the world’s best players.
However, that also has a drip down effect that raises the standard of the league. Other clubs have the experience of facing the best in the world at least four times a season. Travelling to face the best Italy, Germany or England has to offer isn’t nearly as intimating as a visit to the Camp Nou or Santiago Bernabeu.
Moreover, many fine players brought through the Barca and Real academies are squeezed out by the competition they face for places, but go onto make their name with other Spanish clubs.
– Coaching variation
The Spanish national team’s success in winning three consecutive major tournaments between 2008 and 2012 was based around the “tiki-taka” short passing style also commonly associated with Barcelona.
“Football in Spain is a very technical game. The best football is here,” said Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose side was dumped out of the Champions League semi-finals by Real Madrid.
Yet, it is the tactical variety of a number of skilled coaches that has worked for Spanish teams in European competition.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid couldn’t be more opposed to the Barcelona-model in terms of style, but their rock-solid defensive structure has stifled Europe’s best.
Real Madrid, Sevilla and Villarreal are all deadly on the counter-attack, Athletic Bilbao – kings of the set-piece.
That variation makes Spanish sides far more unpredictable than many of the European rivals.
Whilst Barca and Madrid can count on their multi-million euro budgets, the rest still have to consistently sell their best players to Spain’s big two, or increasingly, England’s cash-rich Premier League.