Are we saying that Newcastle United are as good as Internatzionale? How would QPR fare in the Vicente Calderon against Atletico Madrid? And could Wolves turn Fiorentina over? You’ll hear the likes of Andy Gray and Jamie Redknapp frequently describing the Barclays Premier League as the best league in the world. What they mean is, it’s pretty much the only league we watch, ergo, it is the best. Not that placing the Prem in that elite bracket is necessarily a bad bet, but let’s just think it through first before blurting it out willy nilly.
It’s difficult to argue that it is not the best marketed league in the world, but what other factors are we considering when ranking the Premiership as No.1? Young players, biggest clubs, promoted clubs, head-to-heads, Champions League success, international success, goals scored, goals conceded, Ballon d’Or nominees perhaps? Probably not. It’s far easier to make a huge claim and then move on without backing it up.
England face Spain at Wembley this evening in a showdown that could be used to gauge the strength of the two nations’ domestic leagues. If Fabio Capello’s side is taken apart in the same way Manchester United were against Barcelona back in May, do we still assume the Premiership is the best in the world? Or if the Catalan club continues to dominate Europe in the way Spain have dominated international football during the past eight years? Meanwhile, Lionel Messi is well on his way to collecting his third successive Ballon d’Or and Cristiano Ronaldo continues to make merry in front of goal in the Primera Division.
Ahead of tonight’s fixture, World Cup winning coach Vicente Del Bosque hailed the influence of the Premier League on the Spanish national game. The former Real Madrid manager said that having a crop of players playing in England has been vital to Spain’s recent international success. Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez echoed Del Bosque’s sentiment, arguing that having players travelling and playing abroad can only be a good thing for the national side. English players ought to sit up and take notice: perhaps learning how football is played in other countries could benefit the England team in internationals.
Suggesting that some of the top English players should consider leaving their comfort zones and learning a new culture is controversial and unfortunately, anybody who sees it happening any time soon is living in cloud cuckoo land. In the Bundesliga there’s the prolific Mario Gomez at Bayern Munich, while Borussia Dortmund have some exciting young talent in the likes of Mario Gotze and Nuri Sahin. Or there’s arguably the two best players on the planet running defences ragged in Spain week in week out. It’d be nice if the pundits and the players had a little look at the others leagues to see what they have to offer. Then it might not come as such as great surprise when watching the Champions League highlights that that lad Edinson Cavani, is in fact a good good player.