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La Liga strength aids Spain success

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David Bond | 16:20 UK time, Saturday, 10 July 2010

2010 World Cup: Johannesburg

The Premier League claims to be the best in the world. It may be the richest, but after its clubs went backwards in the Champions League last season and England's failure here, there must be doubts over whether it can truly be seen as home to the world's best players.

The line-ups for Sunday's World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands are a good case in point.

The Dutch side may include four players from the Premier League - Robin van Persie, Johnny Heitinga, Dirk Kuyt and Nigel de Jong.

And if Fernando Torres is successful in his appeal to Spain coach Vicente del Bosque then the Liverpool striker could return to the side in place of Pedro and make it five. He is the only one in the 11 not to play in Spain.

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Spain beat Germany in the World Cup semi-final

Fifa's technical study group also sent a sobering reminder of the gap between hype and reality earlier this week by naming five players from Spain's La Liga in its shortlist of 10 for the Golden Ball. Three play in the Bundesliga, one in Italy and one in France.

What is also interesting about that list is that only Lionel Messi made it from the so-called big five of Didier Drogba, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney who were supposed to light up this tournament. Evidence, experts say, of the triumph of the team over the individual at this World Cup.

Nowhere is that better demonstrated than with Spain - who after a slow start finally hit their stride against Germany in the semi-final. They arguably boast the most talented collection of individuals of any team at this World Cup and yet egos appear to have been checked at the door of their Potchefstroom training camp.

What a contrast to England's luxurious but uptight camp at Rustenburg. Fabio Capello and the Football Association left nothing to chance with it's preparations for this World Cup. And had it not done so it would have been criticised, for sure.

Yet watching Spain's players strolling around the North West University Sports Village, an hour or so outside Johannesburg, was to see a group of players entirely at ease with itself and showed that there is another way to handle the pressure of big tournaments.

David Villa, the tournament's leading goalscorer along with Wesley Sneijder, posed casually for pictures with a Japanese film crew, Carles Puyol sat chatting with another reporter while Sergio Ramos signed autographs for fans who had come down to wish Spain well.

Just gaining entry to the Bafokeng Sports Campus required at least four security checks and a vehicle search. England's players were then driven up to a large tent where they did interviews with the media before being driven straight back to their five-star rooms under the constant watch of guards.

Unlike previous Spanish teams which were undermined by regional differences, this one seems to be more unified. But then the majority of the side do play for only one club - Barcelona.

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The majority of the Spanish side play for Barcelona

Seven of the 11 who started against Germany on Wednesday play for the Catalan club. And it is ironic that Spain's elegant charge for World Cup glory is being led by players who make their living with a team central to the political and cultural fabric of the region of Catalonia, which has historically had a tense relationship with Madrid.

They have also played together for a long time having risen through the Spanish youth system.

Jose Luis Astiazaran, the president of La Liga, suggested that part of Spain's success was down to the prevalence of home-grown players in the league. He said 77% of La Liga's players could play for the national team. In contrast, England's Premier League consists of just 40% of English players.

Spain's own golden generation is the result of years of youth development and a commitment to high footballing principles. For a country so rich in footballing tradition Sunday finally offers the chance to claim their place in history.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I think something also has to be said for netherlands who finally deserve to win a world cup since IMO they are the greatest footballing nation never to have won a world cup.

  • Comment number 2.

    "Jose Luis Astiazaran, the president of La Liga, suggested that part of Spain's success was down to the prevalence of home-grown players in the league. He said 77% of La Liga's players could play for the national team. In contrast, England's Premier League consists of just 40% of English players.

    Spain's own golden generation is the result of years of youth development and a commitment to high footballing principles."

    I think their is an often overlooked reason for the high number of homegrown players in La Liga: they don`t share TV money. The clubs below Barca and Real don`t have the opportunity to generate higher revenues apart from developing and selling their own talents. 16 to 18 clubs are basically feeder clubs who need to sell players in order to pay their wages...
    If the Premier League had a similar structure it would also boost the development of young players. But do we really want that?

  • Comment number 3.

    Decent article.

    Certainly refreshing to read a member of the English footballing media admitting the EPL is more hype than substance. The 'best marketed league in the world' would be a more apt description. Of course that is not to say that some of the teams created in the EPL have not been devastating, I'm thinking of the Man U team a few seasons ago in particular.

    Good point from the poster who pointed out La Liga teams don't share TV money, that suggests some of the lesser teams in the league must be as skint as our teams in the SPL!

    But the technical ability and ball control of the Spanish for one will always be superior to anything produced in England.


  • Comment number 4.

    Fair play for revising the statement in your last blog that Messi hadn't turned up at the World Cup. He wasn't great against Argentina but he was amazing in the group stages.

    As for the Spanish team's home-grown success, I don't think there's anything new here. Every article I've read since we exited the competition has stressed the need for a proper reboot of the way the English football system works, from school age coaching upwards. Just like Spain did 15 years ago, for which they're reaping the rewards now. Now the FA just needs to put it into practice.

    I'm not holding my breath.

  • Comment number 5.

    The fact is that most of the bottom half of the premiership play survival football and it is ugly and boring and technically and tactically sterile. Despite being a Blackburn fan, the worst offenders are Sam Allardyce, Tony Pulis and Mick McCarthy Some of the teams in the top half will play attractive football all season and be rewarded for it (Tottenham), some just don't have the defenses to pull it off and go back down again (Ipswich, after an excellent first season). Arsenal play like Spain have in one or two games of the World Cup i.e very pretty but no end product and you know they're too weak and lazy to mix it with physical teams. Liverpool and Chelse are negative and Manchester United can play very good football in the classic english tradition, but SAF probably isn't any longer allowed to buy the players to fit that mould, due to the criminal practices of the Blazer family.

    So it's not exactly as exciting a division as everyone thinks. In Spain, the only downside to La Liga (and also Serie A in Italy) is that they don't have the collective bargaining like the Premiership. I think it's the fairest way, with the redistribution of a portion of the income according to finishing position. Apart from this, even the bottom teams in La Liga are committed to attacking football and keeping it on the floor. So you get the fast attack and counter-attack of the premiership, but you also get excellent ball control and passing and in my experience of watching it, far fewer sterile goalless draws than in the Premiership.

    I hope the majority of our broadcasters and sports journalists will pay more attention to leagues outside our own, learn more about them and the players within them, and then one day we might (fat chance) be rid of the pro-England tub thumping and the patronising attitude towards all teams outside the so-called favourites. And enough of the fawning over the "stars", use your eyes and tell us what you see through them! Not what you want to see!


  • Comment number 6.

    I think there is maybe a "is it the chicken or egg first" type question here:
    Instead of saying that Spain is doing well because most play for a Spanish team it could be this:
    Spain has better players (for whatever reason) and therefore Spanish clubs do NOT have to go abroad for good players like England does. The bottom line is that Spain has good players who HAPPEN to play in Spain. I think if all the Spanish players played abroad they would still have a winning team. I

  • Comment number 7.

    4. At 7:39pm on 10 Jul 2010, Sammuthegreat - WWFC #18 wrote:

    Fair play for revising the statement in your last blog that Messi hadn't turned up at the World Cup. He wasn't great against Argentina but he was amazing in the group stages.

    As for the Spanish team's home-grown success, I don't think there's anything new here. Every article I've read since we exited the competition has stressed the need for a proper reboot of the way the English football system works, from school age coaching upwards. Just like Spain did 15 years ago, for which they're reaping the rewards now. Now the FA just needs to put it into practice.

    I'm not holding my breath.
    **********************************
    Been saying the same thing for quite a few years now

    But until the irrelevant members of the FA listen to their own commissioned independent report (which will probably need doing again they've argued over the last one for so long) so football at all levels can be restructured, improved and Brooking can finally get on with development then we'll continue on our downward trend of technically rubbish, yet 'athletic' footballers..

    Just let them have their FA tickets and jolly-up budgets then step to the side and lets get some proper development of school coaching schemes, academy development investment and teaching kids skills not playing them into the ground so most of the best kids are shot by their teens..

  • Comment number 8.

    For whatever reason (could make millions if i knew), England does not produce many players with the level of technical skills that can compete with the best that Spain and other countries produce.

    Not sure if it's the clubs themselves that are looking for players with a more physical, rugged skill-set that fits with the ideal EPL seems to promote. Someone mentioned that Messi would never have made it in English football with his lack of size used to overlook his other transcendent gifts.

  • Comment number 9.

    Seriously who made up this "big 5", it is far far from the real best 5 players in the world. Except Messi, i think Sneijder,Villa,Robben,Schweinsteiger,Fabiano,Higuain to name a few can all claim to be better than these 4 pretenders. Rooneys inclusion is particularily ridiculous as realistically without being England he's barely top 30.

  • Comment number 10.

    Strange article. The team for tomorrow will most likely be Casillas, Capdevilla, Puyol, Ramos, Pique, Alonso, Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Villa and Pedro. All but 1 of these play for just 2 very very dominant clubs who, due to the massively unfair TV rights system they have in Spain can purchase the best players (such as Alonso, Villa, Ramos) and keep the ones they produce themselves (Xavi, Iniesta, Casillas etc). If this Spain side had players from, say 10 different La Liga sides then you might have a point and the Spanish League could be praised. The fact though is that they play for just Barca and Real who will win the Spanish League between them for probably the next 25 years. Say what you like about the Premier League, but the way TV money is distributed is infinitely fairer than in Spain. My point is that La Liga isn't particularly great, just Barca and Real Madrid.

    Also, weren't English players being slated a couple of weeks ago because they don't go abroad to play? Now the Spanish players are praised and lauded for it and its seen as a reason why Spain are so good. Talk about damned if you do, damned if you don't.

  • Comment number 11.

    What a nonsense stat that is, 77% of La Liga is eligable to play for Spain and only 40% of the prem eligable for England, so if we fill the prem with more English rubbish, this is our way forward.
    This is what will happen, Holland will win the world cup easily and Spain,s flirt with glory will disappear into international obscurity, yet again. Why must we rate ourselves below "Johnny come lately".

  • Comment number 12.

    Now Spain have made it to the world cup final it's no longer true but I think it's hilarious how differently people would have talked about them had the penalty shoot out with Italy in the 2008 European championship gone the other way.

    Shoot outs are a bit of a lottery and it could easily have gone to Italy. If it had then everyone would have been talking about how Spain had choked again.

    Also agree with everything people have said about how ridiculous the money in La Liga is. Last season 4th place was closer to 20th than to 2nd, it's truly insane.

  • Comment number 13.

    BognorRock

    I couldn't agree more

    Kane

    I think Spain and the Dutch are better than us, but agree it has nothing to do with % of players. If you fill the Prem with garbage even if it’s English it won't make us any better

    For those bashing the Premiership. It is beyond question the best league in the world, exciting, physical unpredictable, great. Technical doesn't come into it. I've seen many a technical game played out between two Spanish teams that weren't Madrid or Barcelona and they're awful.

    The problem stems from being asked to play a totally different and unnatural game at national level than at club level and that a lot of the fantastic football in our league comes from the foreign element.

  • Comment number 14.

    Premiership starts soon ... back to froth and bubble in the main.

  • Comment number 15.

    Maybe the reason why Spain produce more technical players and encourage players to play the ball through the feet is because of the weather. Football is played through the winter months and spring, in the UK between Nov to Jan/Feb the pitches are heavy nd muddy nd these conditions do not encourage a passing game but rather a kick and Chase game, so maybe to help encourage a passing game is to change football to played during the summer months to help encourage young performers
    Develop a more passing game and hopefully better technically better players.

  • Comment number 16.

    Take it easy people. Please, remember that nearly the entire Spanish team (7 out of 11)is forged around one team (Barcelona). Which ironically are the Champions of Spain and last year's Champions League winners. If you could take the entire Chelsea team who play together, day in an day out every week and forge it into the England team, I am sure that England's result would be quite different. Plus there is something else that Barcelona is forged upon, which has transferred into the Spanish team. Catalonian nationalism. There is always a big pressure to keep a Catalonia character into Barcelona and that is the main reason why they spend so much money into their youth program. You can't say the same about Real Madrid. Their record of buying foreign players instead of developing youth talent or scavaging the domestic league for rising talent just as Bayern Munchen is worst than England's big 4 with the exception of Arsenal. When was the last time Real Madrid brought in a large group of Spanish born youth?

  • Comment number 17.

    When the FA were "negotiating" with the "big clubs" back in the early 1990s about the formation of the Premier League, they knew that the English game was going to be awash withTV money but instead of insisting that this money was equitably distributed to include development and coaching at all levels(including the grass roots) of the game, the FA, which had been set up to protect,develop and nurture the game, caved in and gave the big clubs what they wanted-the lion's share. A pivotal moment and opportunity in the history of the English game was lost and now, nearly 20 years later, we're seeing its effects. The FA abdicated its responsibility to the game at large and the England team is the big loser. I've loved seeing great foreign players like Cantona,Bergkamp,Zola and Henry gracing our game but too many mediocre foreign players have done the England set-up no favours.I'm 61, can remember 1966 but the chances of me seeing win,or reach the WC final again in my lifetime are practically nil.

  • Comment number 18.

    #8

    "Someone mentioned that Messi would never have made it in English football with his lack of size used to overlook his other transcendent gifts."
    __________________________________________________________

    Weel ive said this many times i hope it doesnt go unnoticed. Ive played at many levels in England and my games was a lot more technical than the players around me. The problem was that i was overlooked in favour of the players who had power and pace. My contributions largely went unnoticed. In England if you are strong, bullish, solid, shout a lot, and helps if youre just fast (you dont need ball control just be fast) then youve a better chance than me in making it.

    This is a problem as technicaly gifted players are not harnessed and are lost.

    i still play a lot of football and i run a team, we're champions of our league. Its a mix of technical ability and power and pace and it works well but power and pace alone isnt a consistent winning formula

  • Comment number 19.

    #15 has it about right.

    I coach boys every Saturday, and we have to play on awful pitches in awful weather. Only the strong survive, and not always the best. Yet when we move to five aside in the summer they are able to play totally differently. The trouble is the kids have to play aound the main pitches but never on them until they are 12 or 13, by which time it is too late, and the skillful wingers and nimble strikers have turned to other sports. Unless we give youngsters decent facilities at school and in the clubs, with coaches who want to train rather than win at all costs, we will never change.

    World Cups, even in England are played on hard, fast and smooth pitches. The sooner that is where our kids play, the sooner we will encourage the talent that is there to stick with it and come to the fore. We're no less talented than Spain or Holland, but we don't allow it to come out.

  • Comment number 20.

    > Arsenal play like Spain have in one or two games of the World Cup i.e very pretty but no end product and you know they're too weak and lazy to mix it with physical teams.

    This is why English football will never be a force on the world stage.

  • Comment number 21.

    As to the premiership - the potential is there. Are Man U not pretty similar to Germany - defensively solid, fast with the ball, and incisive in attack? Arsenal play similarly (just without the solid defense)as do Aston Villa and Spurs. West Ham try, but don't manage it! What's needed then is for English players to want to play for clubs that do good football, and not just who pays the highest wage. We would then, like Spain have our international team from 3 or 4 clubs.

  • Comment number 22.

    I agree with some of the posters...

    Not enough english players playing abroad = bad, no spanish players playing abroad = good - does not make sense... a few of the spanish squad have now experienced foreign football whilst I also feel a greater amount of foreign players playing in La Liga has helped their players learn and adapt to differing styles.

    Limiting the number of foreign players will mean a better english team - why will letting some sub standard english players play in the premiership result in better english players?

    A large percentage of the final are players from La Liga... last final a large percentage were from Serie A but it never meant it was the best league

    Also re 20. At 10:35pm on 10 Jul 2010, 49 and thats a wrap wrote:
    > This is why English football will never be a force on the world stage.

    A lot of teams play in the same style and I am sure the 'English football' will be represented on a world stage when the CL reaches the QFinal next season, a competition where the football is probably at a higher standard

  • Comment number 23.

    re: roverontour - 'chelsea play negative football', 100+ goals in a season suggests not.

    perhaps we'll see the top premiership clubs focus more on their youth systems now that none of them (apart from city) appear to have any money. it seems as though chelsea are.

  • Comment number 24.

    Interesting article, certainly agree with views on Spain's youth policies. I just find all these comments about England's players all having a lack of technical ability and ball control as a pivotal reason for their failure and forever under achievemebt rather one-eyed. I;ve been hearing this all the time since back in the 90's when we lost a world cup qualifier to Italy at Wembley (even though subsequently qualified ahead of them). Every time England loses a game hey presto, its all down to this ''english'' physical game and no skill. In the few occasions when England has done well down the years Ie munich 01, was down to passion and high tempo playing to our own strengths. There was none of this during any game really and yet south africa we were all told would have been perfect for this in winter.

  • Comment number 25.

    The Premier League was the best for a brief period between 2006-2008. That was when Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd and Liverpool were challenging and beating the best teams in Europe. The first ever all English Champions League final was played in 2008 and it was a cracking final.

    Things have declined since then. The Premier League is technically the worst league out of the five most powerful leagues in Europe. That is the Italian, Spanish, German and French leagues. It's exciting, that is for sure, but some of the abilities of the players playing in the Premier League is diabolical. I am talking about the ones who can't do anything with the ball, but release as soon as they have it, due to poor ball control. If I want to see footballers run and be physical, I could do this by going to watch my Sunday league team play.

    I have to say those the Premier League will be getting worse, before it gets better, as I don't see enough English players coming through soon enough.

  • Comment number 26.

    Have to agree with what's been said mostly...why bash the premier league for having 40% English players?

    I won't bang on about the weaknesses of La Liga, the whole Real/Barca domination has already been pointed out several times. The point I would like to make is my belief that if you put Real Madrid or Barcelona in the Premier League, they would finish 10 or 15 points off the top in around 3rd-5th place. Sure, they would not only beat but probably demolish the likes of Bolton, Blackburn, and Sunderland (no offense to these teams) in your usual cup competitions, but I genuinely would not see them beating Bolton, THEN Blackburn, THEN Sunderland, THEN Tottenham, THEN Birmingham, with a tough game vs Man Utd sandwiched in. The pure physicality of the Premier League **season** as a whole is what makes it the most competetive and toughest league in the world, and I do not see any Spanish teams, for all their technical superiority, being able to rough it up week in week out.

    You could put a cap on the foreign players involved to make it 70% English, but then you'd just end up with an English style La Liga. Repeating what others have said now, but the saturation of foreign players is what makes the EPL so tough.

    Just my views!

  • Comment number 27.

    Having the bulk of your national team play for the same club must be a huge advantage. They know each other so well. I suspect if the members of the English national team played together every day for a few years, we'd see much better performances from them.

  • Comment number 28.

    Good blog. However, the failure of the english clubs in the champions league is ridiculous. One bad season! English teams have dominated for a about 5/6 years now. You wait till next season, I assure you.

  • Comment number 29.

    Enjoyed the blog but not some of the ridiculous comments from people who think the Premiership is the be all and end all of football with statements like:

    "The fact though is that they play for just Barca and Real who will win the Spanish League between them for probably the next 25 years. "

    Since the EPL began in 1992 only 4 different clubs have won the Premiership- 5 different clubs- Barca, Real Madrid, Athletico Madrid, Valencia and Deportivo have won La Liga in the same period.

    The Premiership is not "the best league in the world" (c) Andy Gray and Richard Keys- actually there's no such thing- but I'm sure if there was a best league in the world it wouldn't involve horrible teams like Wigan, Bolton, Blackburn, Wolves, Stoke, Sunderland playing kick and rush football desperately hoping to get 40 points.

    I've got to say though the comment that Barca or Real Madrid would finish 15 points of the pace in the PRem as they couldn't beat Bolton, THEN Blackburn, THEN Sunderland, THEN Tottenham, THEN Birmingham was priceless. Chelsea drew 5 games and lost 6 and still maneged to win the Prem last year- Barca or Real would have to lose about 10 games to have finished 15 points behind them!!

  • Comment number 30.

    Let's not forget most (If not all) English players are also 'home based'.

    The difference is the Spanish league is structurally biased (at present) to the Top two team. They have poached the bulk of the best players in Spain and monopolized the media money.

    As such, they have also benefited from the familiarity of a tightly knit group of players.

    However what's good for the National team may not be as healthy for La Liga as a whole.

    That said, the Spanish are (finally) adept at playing to their strengths on an International stage. They also rely on managers who understand the Spanish mentality/game.

    England OTOH, do not play to their better attributes and have become overly reliant on foreign coaches.

    A fair gauge of where English foot ball can head toward (As I believe the current new generation of English players are more technical) would be to look at Germany and how they have their team playing to the strengths of the natural German game. Yes they did lose to Spain but had they shown less respect to Spain's lofty reputation (like say the Swiss), the outcome could have been rather different.

  • Comment number 31.

    "Since the EPL began in 1992 only 4 different clubs have won the Premiership- 5 different clubs- Barca, Real Madrid, Athletico Madrid, Valencia and Deportivo have won La Liga in the same period."

    Disingenuous to look that far back. Of late :

    The gap is narrowing in the premier league where as it seems the two galactico clubs seem to be pulling further away from the pack.

    Of course, some would argue (with good reason) that the Bundesliga is the league to watch at the moment.;)

  • Comment number 32.

    Please English Premier League must never have 77% English players, we would sleep watching them playing cause they are really a bunch of boring Football players.

  • Comment number 33.

    Agree with some of the above comments about the johnny-come-lately knee jerkism that dictates a lot of our decision making. They won and we lost so they must be doing it right and we must be doing it wrong, and so we should copy them. This logic can be flawed because some results are one offs. For example, Burnley beat Man Utd last season, so are we all going to copy Burnley? Germany started off this tournament like a house on fire so suddenly we must copy them, and now they are out we should look to Spain. 12 years ago, and still now on these blogs, we are told our players should do what the French did and expand their horizons abroad. But no, hold on, most of the Spanish players haven't done that. They've stayed at home in La Liga so let's go down that route. Ah, but, what if Holland win today? Are we going to scrap the Spanish model and go Dutch? Let's coolly make our own minds up based on the big picture, not blindly copy someone else based on one game.

    First, we have to ask ourselves 'Do we have a problem?' I think so, if we want England to be successful. What are those problems? Already documented here and elsewhere. What are we going to do about it? I like what Jurgen Klinsman said about testing opinion when he took over Germany, identifying what German coaches wanted to work on and moulding it into a style they felt comfortable with. They didn't copy anyone else playing in a mode that would be rendered obsolete sooner or later. They tried to create football for a new age that could overcome what had come before. This is what the Spanish have done and we have to do if we want to be where they are, though I have grave reservations there is anyone at the FA who can think for themselves. I'm crossing my fingers that the signs of improvement of our junior teams isn't down to athleticism rather than technique that gets found out at senior level. So maybe the work has already begun!

    You've got to applaud Spain for the investment in youth and good football for the benefit of the national team, but you've also got to say the country's gain seems to be club football's loss, unless you're Barcelona or Real Madrid that is. I always remember Dynamo Kiev and Ukraine were one and the same team and that it appeared to help their teamwork. But while the same might be said of Barcelona and Spain, I don't want to see 7 positions for England filled by Man Utd players. #29, Grudge, 1992 is a convenient date, but I think it's going to be while before Valencia, Deportivo and probably Athletico win La Liga again.

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    "Evidence, experts say, of the triumph of the team over the individual at this World Cup."

    You don't say who the "experts" are, David, but they agree with me!
    (And I think I agree with almost all the first 20 comments on this blog.)

    It's also worth noting that Spain have just got "into their stride" with a series of 1-0 victories. They also beat Germany to win the European Championships with a 1-0 victory. Spain have some gifted attacking players, but I think they are proving the old maxim that successful teams are built upon an excellent defence. (Their goal against Germany was actually scored by a defender, with his head.)

    Yes, good passing skills across the whole team allow a side to "maintain possession". But "possession" does not appear on the scoreboard at the end of the game (and a less generous person could also describe it as time-wasting!)
    Reviewing England's performances, they conceded 4 goals against Germany. Two of them were before the "Lampard incident", and if a serious defensive error had not been made against the USA, then they probably wouldn't even have been playing Germany.


    Getting back to the subject of La Liga, it seems more complicated, to me, than "just" Barcelona and Real Madrid. Neither David Villa nor Fernando Torres have played (yet) for these teams.
    Spain's Dutch opponents today also boast Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben who have both just had very good seasons in Europe after leaving Real Madrid. When fit and selected, Robben found success at Chelsea, and even if Holland lose today, Sneijder will probably never have a better year.

    The common thread is, of course, "Special-J" Mourinho, who has often been criticised for putting out teams that produce 1-0 victories.

  • Comment number 36.

    Mention the EPL and people immediately think of "English football". To say that Arsenal is an English side, or represent English football, is like saying that Chelsea is a Russian club. Arsenal has it physical presence in London, that is it. The usual top 4 in fact, cannot be considered English sides, not even Cite can. "English football" starts at Villa, through to Birmingham, Burnley etc, plus Spurs, thanks to Arry.
    Anyway all that is written in this blog is true for Barcelona. Madrid does not care about youth football one little bit.
    6 of the eleven that started against Germany were Barca products, Cacres who played for Uruguay yesterday, Marquez of Mexico. Barca has the claim to a bigger piece of Messi than Argentina has. Bojan Krkkic etc, etc. For me, Valdes is a better keeper than Cassillas, but there has to be some MAdrid in there..
    Spain has Barcelona to thank for this team. Once Raul and his Madrid influence were removed, Spain could then start achieving its potential.

  • Comment number 37.

    I personally prefer the days when English teams could only have 1 (or was it 2/3) international players per side. The excitement of seeing Klinsmann or Zola running out for an English side was grand! Now it's mostly international players making up the bulk of the side and the England side have gone downhill since they opened up the league completely.

  • Comment number 38.

    Some mention that spain is largely compromised of Barcalona player,6; 7 if you count Villa, as reason for their success. However England did this with Liverpool when they were the dominate force in England and Europe and it didn't bring success, perhaps because their best players were foreigners Daglish, Rush or it wasn't preserved with long enough; changing Spain system took almost 4 years under the previous manager before results.

    The difference implied with praising Spain and critiquing English players for staying at home is the perception that the top English players need to expand their game further than the ELP can provide; who doesn't believe Gerrard would be a better player with more tactical adeptness and the ability to retain possession instead of being indulged at every level of the English game upto and including Liverpool FC.

    I think it was Mark Hateley who observed on moving to AC Milan his technique was inferior to the extent he couldn't keep up with the training regime.

    Also TwoLostSouls your claim Barca/Madrid would finish out of the top 4 is preposterous. I can see what your trying to say; the unphysical technical game doesn't work against ultra physical teams long term and while this is apt, although I believe your wrong, for Barca it's not so for Real Madrid. Real are hardly lightweight, firstly they have Ronaldo who scored 40 plus goals and won 3 titles with man u who had quite a lightwieght midfield at the time; Alonso is better than Carrick and both the diarra midfielders are strong athletic players. As for Barca, Arsenal are a good blueprint for comparison and this season and the one before last they put up decent title challenges and Barca are better than Arsenal. Also Pique and Puyol are strong and airily dominate defenders, maybe they might have had to stick with the more dynamic Toure than Busquets but not much difference and honestly I cannot see teams like Stoke being able to deal with their high quality possession football which I think would be more draining on the opposition who'd be chasing the ball all game or it would be like the training exercise that was Barca Vs Chealea at the Nou Camp, which was hardly physically draining

  • Comment number 39.

    When you have 6-7 players from a single club, it makes for a better team and easier understanding in comparison to a team that draws its players from various clubs and then have to forge a combination. The passing is swift and assured as the passer knows where the receiver would be on the ball. Besides that the Catalonian spirit is preeminent.

    The other point about ground passing is valid too. Teams do hoof it at times but the occasion should be rare, e.g when there is a good chance of reaching an advanced lightly marked player. Teams ahead on goal use it as a safety or time wasting tactic, mostly under a bit of panic.

    There was a point in the Spain - Germany match where Torres and Pedro were two-on-one in attack. Pedro, rather obtusely, failed to pass the ball to unmarked Torres and a great opportunity of a goal was missed, apparently on a/c of Pedro's selfishness. My reading was that Torres was refused the golden chance as he does not play for Barcelona and has mostly been confined to the bench. Pedro was substituted with alacrity by the coach.

    The point about England team's labored accessibility to media may be traceable to English media's manic preoccupation to bring every little detail into the public domain. Besides it is a matter of security style that is peculiar to each set up. However there is a definite need for more transparency in many aspects, like selection, interviews, relaxation styles et al.

    Spain do seem to have an edge but I am inclined to rate the chances only at 50-50. Holland is equally capable of doing it.

  • Comment number 40.

    The view that Barca and Real filch all the top Spanish player is very much a myth. Barca Have produced all the own Spanish players they've provided the national team bar Villa and Real Madrid with Perez as director, until last year when they bought Albiol, had never bought a Spanish player and his galacticos reign has lasted over a decade with a brief intermission.

  • Comment number 41.

    Ah, Mr Bond, you appear to suggest that the Premier League is no more than a franchised money-driven World Series which just happens to be played on the green fields of England.

    Interesting, Mr Bond!

  • Comment number 42.

    The internationals rule was 3 foreigners out of 11 possibly supplemented by 2 who had been playing in your country for 5 yrs or longer OR had been with the club before their 18th birthday. I ve thought back about those times myself... Being Flemish (Belgian) the club i love is RSC Anderlecht in Belgium they still are a massive force but on a European level they are 2nd to 3rd tier simply because of the European rule that any European can work in a member state without needing any kind of work permit. Personally i think there should be an exception to that rule when it comes to sport, this for the best interest of sport.

    The real cause of the demise of England is the $$$$. Filthy rich foreigners buying clubs and buying more foreigners and clubs buying any player who shows some kind of promise from poorer clubs and very often the players dont measure up and are then dumped.

    We should reform football in Europe with a STRICT salary cap and max transferfee linked to their salary and 3 non european players in your starting 11 and a max of 1 extra European player. And supplement this with at least 3 players who have played 3 years or longer for your club. This should be done on a European and preferably Global level.

    It will never happen but imho it would give our teams some national pride back and by extension English players who want to put their life on the line for England... The Red Devils (Belgium's 11) used to be known for though and gritty players with a strong defense. We never had such a generation of talented players but we still dont have a team.. So bring on them reforms! Monsieur Platini if you REALLY care about European football you ll do something like this!

  • Comment number 43.

    Reading that statistic of 77% players in the Spanish league are Spanish will immediately lead people to talk of reserving a certain number of slots in the EPL to English players. When a club manager is tasked with winning trophies he is bound to scout about globally and pick players he believes fit the club style and can be afforded.

    The need is to build up the training programms such that the clubs have the choice of affordable English TALENT. The high percentage of local players in the German and the Spanish leagues is not because someone mandated a requirement but because there are so many talented youngsters coming up the ranks that fulfil the requirements of the clubs and thence the country.

  • Comment number 44.

    The main difference between football in Spain and England is that in Clubs in Spain look for players who can run the ball whereas in England they look for players can run with or even worse without the ball. Balls being rounder than players roll/run more easily. nextstars at racingportuense.es will help to change things for England

  • Comment number 45.

    Football is NOT running but making sure the BALL runs. It`s easier to send the ball to a certain place then go with it yourself! That is what nextstars aims to do with players released from the Premier Academy League.http://www.racingportuense.es/index.php?page=417

  • Comment number 46.

    It's true that the Spanish, Argentinian and Brazilian teams have more technically gifted players than the English. Their technical advantage over the Germans or Dutch is perhaps even more marked. But the English did not fail at this tournament because they lacked technique, but rather because they lacked team spirit and organisation. The Germans showed what can be done with competent rather than brilliant players.

    There are always journalistic/bar-stool analyses about the structure of English football when England crash out or fail to qualify, and I'm not saying there shouldn't be more technical development in the English game. But let's not rush to fix problems that may not even exist. If the players don't play, the team won't win!

  • Comment number 47.

    Plenty has been said about developing the youth game in England. I hope that after the world cup is over, Radio 5 live can invite the top managers in England and have an open hearted interview about what the problem with English football is. Ask Wenger why he can not find 4 or 5 promising 16 year olds every year. The same for SAF etc. I think that there is a problem with English football that is deeper than getting the youth system sorted. It looks like something to do with with sports mentality and the sacrifices that one has to make to get to he top. Messi moved country when was is 13, Fabregas when he was 16. The great majority of English youngsters do not have the desire to succeed. Youngsters look to the weekend and the comfort of the pub, to watch the foreign gladiators entertain them in the EPL. The few who break into mid table sides are more interested in celebrity (Ashley Young's diamond earnings tell you where his priorities lie, for example).
    As for Spain, they for a long time, had the problems of England. The national side was picked by the Madrid papers, almost. Raul had to be included in the team. Their play had to be tailored to accommodate him. Not seeing that he came from a team which had the greatest players in he world (Zidane, Figo, R Carlos, Ronaldo) made him look very good, perhaps better that he was in any other team, the Madrid lot could simply not understand why their golden boy was just not delivering it when it came to Spain. However, they kept talking him into the Spanish side again and again, until Spain lost to Northern Ireland. Then Aragones had had enough of Raul and his Madrid patrons. Aragones left Raul out of the side that won the Euro '08 and took plenty of stick for it, but he was strong and said "Spain has won nothing with Raul, I don't see that changing". Aragones was vindicated when Spain won the Euros, and Raul was forgotten. The Madrid lot has also kept quiet since.
    Problem with England is that they have more than one Raul. You work out for yourselves which ones they are. The obvious is Beckham, but there are at lest 3 others..

  • Comment number 48.

    Seems strange that a lot of people are making an issue of La liga been dominated by 2 teams, when the EPL has only been won by 4 teams ever, and Blackburn was a one off. And while your there no English manager to date has done it. A dearth of talent on 2 fronts. Good luck Holland and Spain tonight a new world champion regardless.

  • Comment number 49.

    #48, flashmcnichol, I think it's strange that you have to relate your point to the EPL. Much as I enjoy watching La Liga, 2 clubs increasingly hoarding the booty year after year is greedy by any standard, regardless of what's happening in any other league.

  • Comment number 50.

    This article is simplistic. You would not pass any science exam with the logic displayed here. If the percentages of home-grown players is so unfluential then how do you explain the case of Italy or France? They have LESS foreigners in their league. And if these numbers are so relevant what about in the last 20 or so years before 2008 when Spain did nothing? There were actually EVEN FEWER foreigners in la Liga during those years. And in the case of England? When there were hardly any overseas players in the league England failed to qualify in 74 and 78. The arguements here are simply absurd. Holding up la Liga as a bastion of moral superiority is crazy. It is the least regulated of all the major leagues, has NO share structure with TV money, the clubs poach and entice young players exactly the same as anywhere else and is completely dominated by the only two clubs who are able to win their league. (Long term La Liga may even have to reduce to 8 or 10 teams and play like the Scottish Prem). The real reason Spain have done well is the same as any other successful team. A good combination of talent appearing at the same time and a good coach. In afew years time they will be where France or Italy are. It's all cyclical and to search for some statistical reasoning over the number of foreigners in the league is just not conclusive evidence of anything.

  • Comment number 51.

    44,45

    Your point about passing the ball, making it do the work sounds too simplistic but is it? Football is a simple game after all!

    Where have all the passers gone? Did we (England) ever have any...

    Well we did, of course, but they often looked like thoroughbreds suddenly dropped on to Blackpool beach when picked for England. No disrespect to Tony Adams intended...

    Interesting that Spain's pass master Xavi cited Matt Le Tissier as an influence.

    "He could dribble past seven or eight players but without speed - he just walked past them. For me he was sensational."

    Xavi didn't cite Carlton Palmer or David Batty, just two of Le Tissier's contemporaries whose work rate appeared superior to his (and Hoddle's and Barnes' and ...) but whose names on the team sheet, along with the absence of MLT's, surely must have been responsible for many a sigh of relief in the opposition's camp.

  • Comment number 52.

    To add to my earlier post. If we're gonna study statistics then let's throw a few numbers back.

    Percentage of overseas players at Real madrid and Barcelona ? 25/51 = 49.01%
    Percentage of overseas players at Man Utd and Chelsea ? 44/104 = 42.31%

    mmm? Interesting isn't it?

  • Comment number 53.

    Alright i get the point. Another anti-immigration stunt to get rid of all non-English footballers in England.

    What these anti-immigration soldiers don't see is what the Labour government had seen a long time ago and that is - a country with a marshy mix of Whites, Blacks, and Asians stand a chance to remain a world power like the USA.

    Now dismiss me as usual.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'm with Tony Bowling (@6) and GunnerFlag (@43) on this. I would also go on to suggest a reason why too few English players are good enough to play in the Premier League. I believe its the high value we place on winning that pervades our junior clubs. This emphasises endeavour and organisation above individual skill from a very young age.

    There's no intrinsic reason why our kids should be as talented as the Spanish or the South Americans, we just need to let them develop those skills before we drill them into a regiment.

  • Comment number 55.

    Fatdave: It is the exact opposite. You have to drill hunger and desire from a very early age. Sports is mostly about mental strength. You have got to want it baby, else go home and play with your mates. Kids have to understand the goal in sports, which is winning. Only then will they get the motivation to do what it takes to succeed. There is myth in England that "talent is everything". Sorry but the only talent that there is out there is the talent to practice and keep practising.

  • Comment number 56.

    The lack of national talent in the Premiership has been obvious for years.

    The days when English players and managers where hired by the big foreign clubs are long gone...

    Foreign investors buying English clubs to use as their playground... a divided national team that lacks talent in key positions with egos the size of the bags of cash the FA wastes...

    There has been a consistent lack of English talent + a very incompetent FA = gloomy future

    It's basic maths

  • Comment number 57.

    What a nonsense stat that is, 77% of La Liga is eligable to play for Spain and only 40% of the prem eligable for England, so if we fill the prem with more English rubbish, this is our way forward.

    **********************************************************************************

    What a nonsense statement THAT is! Many English players are or at the very least could be as good as the ridiculously overrated foreigners that currently plague the EPL. Apart from a very few really great players such as Drogba, Torres, Ronaldo (when he was here) Van Persie, Tevez and a few others the majority possess no more talent than English players. What they do have that English players don't is really great agents who are constantly pushing their 'product' and doing deals (or bungs, call them what you will) Do we really need average talents from Togo or Korea or Kazakhstan or wherever that badly in the EPL? NO. Are they significantly better than what we have available here at home? NO. The fact is our boys don't get the chance because of the lack of ability of the coaches to create better players out of the available talent pool and this countries obsession with importing foreigners in all walks of life which the last Labour government began because it did not have the will or the ability to motivate its own citizens to improve themselves.

  • Comment number 58.

    unfortunetely for spain's opponents there are no real physical teams in international football. It wouldn't be allowed.

    At the end of the day the likes of Messi, iniesta and even Villa play in a league where is technique over power and pace. And that lends itself very well for international football.

    I love the pace of the PL, but its lends itself to certain types of football namely, you don't keep the ball for very long and you get it up the pitch as fast as possible. Any of our top teams against barca or madrid have to play defensive in the CL and thats with our foreign players. If you take them out of the english sides there isn't the real quality left.

    Overall the premier league rules over the national team, as we're told its the greatest product of its kind so we should be thankful!

  • Comment number 59.

    TT_Swindlehurst:
    I think that you are being unreasonable here. David Bentley is a massive English talent. He is valued at 15 million pounds, Glenn Johnson at 18 million, Bent was at 16 million, ... the list goes on. If PL managers could lay their hands on genuine English talent which is competitively priced, they would jump at it with both hands. Arsene Wenger would be the world's happiest man if he could get 8 or 9 English players who can play for his Arsenal first team. Truth is, there are not found up and down the country. Glenn Johnson and David Bentley can not last 5 minutes in another league. I just don't buy the story that PL managers are anti English and out to deliberately ruin English football. Sorry.

  • Comment number 60.

    On paper Spain are the stronger team with more strength and depth, however as with any final all it takes is a moment of magic to turn a player into a legend. This final will be very close, Webb has a vital role to play, he must remain omnipresent and invisible. If he performs to his best I fancy Spain to edge it, possibly in extra-time.

  • Comment number 61.

    Please English Premier League must never have 77% English players, we would sleep watching them playing cause they are really a bunch of boring Football players.

    *******************************************************************

    Then watch cricket! You are massively missing the point. It is the ENGLISH Premier league NOT the WORLD Premier league or the EUROPEAN premier league. There are millions of English fans up and down the country who have supported English teams all their lives, their fathers supported those teams and their fathers before them they remain loyal despite the fact that 95% of the foreigners playing in the EPL have NO such loyalty. These supporters have sons and they take their sons to football matches and watch their sons play at school or at the park on the weekends and nurture their sons dreams of one day playing for Man Utd or Chelsea or Villa or Bolton or whoever and also of playing for ENGLAND and maybe playing for their countries in a World Cup. Are you going to be the one to tell these guys that their dreams are just a pile of c**p? That unless their son is mega talented like a Rooney or a Michael Owen by the time he is 16 he has virtually no chance. Most players even the talented ones are not going to mature sufficiently until they are around 20 anyway.

    I have no wish to upset foreigners as I am married to one and there are foreigners who have lit up the EPL with their talents and that is great, but far too many are journeymen from Honduras or Algeria or somewhere and you simply cannot tell me that that does not impede the development of homegrown players!

    And to those that say that England never won anything before the influx of foreigners into the EPL then what about the dominance of English clubs in the European Cup between 1976 - 1985 before we were banned from European competition, done largely with British players playing a British style, does that not count for anything?

  • Comment number 62.

    The entire English and Italian squads play in their home country...none argument

  • Comment number 63.

    I always find it strange when people state how weak La Liga is compared to the Premiership, except for Barca & Real. If you look at the UEFA cup/Europa league statistics over the last fifteen years or so, you clearly see how well Spanish clubs consistently do. Different Spanish clubs regularly win it and they often get three or more teams to the quarter final stage. In comparison, English clubs rarely do well in that particular competition. As this competition is for the clubs below the powerhouses, surely it represents, in quite a clear way, the strength and depth of the two leagues.

    I far prefer the Premiership but I think it's only British bias that belittles La Liga and says we are streets ahead.

  • Comment number 64.

    I did notice an effusive article on the merits of the South American teams earlier, as the 1, 2 and 3 of this tournament are European, will we see an effusive blog on the wonder of European teams?

  • Comment number 65.

    TT_Swindlehurst:
    I think that you are making sweeping generalisations without a single fact to back up your arguments. Let us look at your examples:
    Algerian journeymen. I suppose that you are referring to Belhadj, Yebda and Boazza. As far as I know, these are the only players linked to Algeria who have played in the PL. You'll be sorry to hear this but all the three are Frenchmen, with Algerian parents, just like Zinedine Zidane is. They are all born, raised and got their football schooling in the French academies. No less than Emil Heskey or Germain Defoe. The Honduran journeyman you are referring to is Wilson Palacios? Top player who would play in any league, for any manager.
    How sad it would be if whether you are allowed to play your football in England is determined by your nationality, or your parents nationality as is the case with the "Algerian journeymen".
    Actually nobody has dared say this but I'll say it as it is my opinion. The level of the English players in the EPL is very poor. There are too many English players of less than modest ability in the PL. Having so many poor players, just because they are English, is poor business strategy.
    By the way, the great Liverpool sides you mention, I guess that you conveniently said "British" to gloss over the fact that the best were forefingers, in the footballing sense of the word?

  • Comment number 66.

    This may be irrelevant but in Spain some 24,000 people have achieved the highest level UEFA coaching qualifications (in Germany it's 35,000). The UK has fewer than 3,000. As I keep saying professional fottballers are generally formed by the age 10-11, after that it's very difficult to coach them good technique. So the respective structures of the EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga have only a marginal effect on the performance of the national team - it's all about the genuine quality of kids when they first catch the eye of club scouts, and in the UK and Ireland, that quality is way, way too poor.

  • Comment number 67.

    The best way for england to guarantee that it's next generation of players don't end up like this one would be to SEND them all overseas. Take the under 17 squad, ban them all from the premiership (where their skills would be ruined) and send them all off the spain, brazil or argentina where they can nourish their footballing intelligence and creativity.

  • Comment number 68.

    This is why I hate good teams doing well, the media always bend it into a negative story about England. Stating how good a club league is based on an occasional internation competition is ridiculous. The Champion's league is the best measure and the Premier league consistantly perform well. Your arguement has many flaws not least of which is that we can't count players such as Berbatov and Fletcher because they happen to play for countries who don't have a wealth of talent so don't qualify, Evra and Drogba because they play for poorly managed sides, and Essien and Ballack because they got injuries before the tournament begun. Essentially you are chosing to judge the strengths of the Premeiership based on a maximum of 7 games at the end of the season where only some of the players from the league are involved, against 4 years of consitent performance in European competition.

  • Comment number 69.

    « Previous | Main
    La Liga strength aids Spain success
    Post categories: Football, World Cup

    David Bond | 16:20 UK time, Saturday, 10 July 2010

    2010 World Cup: Johannesburg

    The Premier League claims to be the best in the world. It may be the richest, but after its clubs went backwards in the Champions League last season and England's failure here, there must be doubts over whether it can truly be seen as home to the world's best players.

    The line-ups for Sunday's World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands are a good case in point.

    The Dutch side may include four players from the Premier League - Robin van Persie, Johnny Heitinga, Dirk Kuyt and Nigel de Jong.

    And if Fernando Torres is successful in his appeal to Spain coach Vicente del Bosque then the Liverpool striker could return to the side in place of Pedro and make it five. He is the only one in the 11 not to play in Spain.



    Spain beat Germany in the World Cup semi-final
    Fifa's technical study group also sent a sobering reminder of the gap between hype and reality earlier this week by naming five players from Spain's La Liga in its shortlist of 10 for the Golden Ball. Three play in the Bundesliga, one in Italy and one in France.

    What is also interesting about that list is that only Lionel Messi made it from the so-called big five of Didier Drogba, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney who were supposed to light up this tournament. Evidence, experts say, of the triumph of the team over the individual at this World Cup.

    Nowhere is that better demonstrated than with Spain - who after a slow start finally hit their stride against Germany in the semi-final. They arguably boast the most talented collection of individuals of any team at this World Cup and yet egos appear to have been checked at the door of their Potchefstroom training camp.

    What a contrast to England's luxurious but uptight camp at Rustenburg. Fabio Capello and the Football Association left nothing to chance with it's preparations for this World Cup. And had it not done so it would have been criticised, for sure.

    Yet watching Spain's players strolling around the North West University Sports Village, an hour or so outside Johannesburg, was to see a group of players entirely at ease with itself and showed that there is another way to handle the pressure of big tournaments.

    David Villa, the tournament's leading goalscorer along with Wesley Sneijder, posed casually for pictures with a Japanese film crew, Carles Puyol sat chatting with another reporter while Sergio Ramos signed autographs for fans who had come down to wish Spain well.

    Just gaining entry to the Bafokeng Sports Campus required at least four security checks and a vehicle search. England's players were then driven up to a large tent where they did interviews with the media before being driven straight back to their five-star rooms under the constant watch of guards.

    Unlike previous Spanish teams which were undermined by regional differences, this one seems to be more unified. But then the majority of the side do play for only one club - Barcelona.



    The majority of the Spanish side play for Barcelona

    Seven of the 11 who started against Germany on Wednesday play for the Catalan club. And it is ironic that Spain's elegant charge for World Cup glory is being led by players who make their living with a team central to the political and cultural fabric of the region of Catalonia, which has historically had a tense relationship with Madrid.

    They have also played together for a long time having risen through the Spanish youth system.

    Jose Luis Astiazaran, the president of La Liga, suggested that part of Spain's success was down to the prevalence of home-grown players in the league. He said 77% of La Liga's players could play for the national team. In contrast, England's Premier League consists of just 40% of English players.

    Spain's own golden generation is the result of years of youth development and a commitment to high footballing principles. For a country so rich in footballing tradition Sunday finally offers the chance to claim their place in history.


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    Previous Next 1. At 5:15pm on 10 Jul 2010, Gunner786 wrote:
    I think something also has to be said for netherlands who finally deserve to win a world cup since IMO they are the greatest footballing nation never to have won a world cup.

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    2. At 6:50pm on 10 Jul 2010, Martin2002 wrote:
    "Jose Luis Astiazaran, the president of La Liga, suggested that part of Spain's success was down to the prevalence of home-grown players in the league. He said 77% of La Liga's players could play for the national team. In contrast, England's Premier League consists of just 40% of English players.

    Spain's own golden generation is the result of years of youth development and a commitment to high footballing principles."

    I think their is an often overlooked reason for the high number of homegrown players in La Liga: they don`t share TV money. The clubs below Barca and Real don`t have the opportunity to generate higher revenues apart from developing and selling their own talents. 16 to 18 clubs are basically feeder clubs who need to sell players in order to pay their wages...
    If the Premier League had a similar structure it would also boost the development of young players. But do we really want that?

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    3. At 7:19pm on 10 Jul 2010, John_Henrys_Hammer wrote:
    Decent article.

    Certainly refreshing to read a member of the English footballing media admitting the EPL is more hype than substance. The 'best marketed league in the world' would be a more apt description. Of course that is not to say that some of the teams created in the EPL have not been devastating, I'm thinking of the Man U team a few seasons ago in particular.

    Good point from the poster who pointed out La Liga teams don't share TV money, that suggests some of the lesser teams in the league must be as skint as our teams in the SPL!

    But the technical ability and ball control of the Spanish for one will always be superior to anything produced in England.




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    4. At 7:39pm on 10 Jul 2010, Sammuthegreat - WWFC #18 wrote:
    Fair play for revising the statement in your last blog that Messi hadn't turned up at the World Cup. He wasn't great against Argentina but he was amazing in the group stages.

    As for the Spanish team's home-grown success, I don't think there's anything new here. Every article I've read since we exited the competition has stressed the need for a proper reboot of the way the English football system works, from school age coaching upwards. Just like Spain did 15 years ago, for which they're reaping the rewards now. Now the FA just needs to put it into practice.

    I'm not holding my breath.

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    5. At 7:46pm on 10 Jul 2010, RoverOnTour wrote:
    The fact is that most of the bottom half of the premiership play survival football and it is ugly and boring and technically and tactically sterile. Despite being a Blackburn fan, the worst offenders are Sam Allardyce, Tony Pulis and Mick McCarthy Some of the teams in the top half will play attractive football all season and be rewarded for it (Tottenham), some just don't have the defenses to pull it off and go back down again (Ipswich, after an excellent first season). Arsenal play like Spain have in one or two games of the World Cup i.e very pretty but no end product and you know they're too weak and lazy to mix it with physical teams. Liverpool and Chelse are negative and Manchester United can play very good football in the classic english tradition, but SAF probably isn't any longer allowed to buy the players to fit that mould, due to the criminal practices of the Blazer family.

    So it's not exactly as exciting a division as everyone thinks. In Spain, the only downside to La Liga (and also Serie A in Italy) is that they don't have the collective bargaining like the Premiership. I think it's the fairest way, with the redistribution of a portion of the income according to finishing position. Apart from this, even the bottom teams in La Liga are committed to attacking football and keeping it on the floor. So you get the fast attack and counter-attack of the premiership, but you also get excellent ball control and passing and in my experience of watching it, far fewer sterile goalless draws than in the Premiership.

    I hope the majority of our broadcasters and sports journalists will pay more attention to leagues outside our own, learn more about them and the players within them, and then one day we might (fat chance) be rid of the pro-England tub thumping and the patronising attitude towards all teams outside the so-called favourites. And enough of the fawning over the "stars", use your eyes and tell us what you see through them! Not what you want to see!




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    6. At 8:04pm on 10 Jul 2010, Tony Bowling wrote:
    I think there is maybe a "is it the chicken or egg first" type question here:
    Instead of saying that Spain is doing well because most play for a Spanish team it could be this:
    Spain has better players (for whatever reason) and therefore Spanish clubs do NOT have to go abroad for good players like England does. The bottom line is that Spain has good players who HAPPEN to play in Spain. I think if all the Spanish players played abroad they would still have a winning team. I

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    7. At 8:08pm on 10 Jul 2010, Ever dance with the devil ? wrote:
    4. At 7:39pm on 10 Jul 2010, Sammuthegreat - WWFC #18 wrote:

    Fair play for revising the statement in your last blog that Messi hadn't turned up at the World Cup. He wasn't great against Argentina but he was amazing in the group stages.

    As for the Spanish team's home-grown success, I don't think there's anything new here. Every article I've read since we exited the competition has stressed the need for a proper reboot of the way the English football system works, from school age coaching upwards. Just like Spain did 15 years ago, for which they're reaping the rewards now. Now the FA just needs to put it into practice.

    I'm not holding my breath.
    **********************************
    Been saying the same thing for quite a few years now

    But until the irrelevant members of the FA listen to their own commissioned independent report (which will probably need doing again they've argued over the last one for so long) so football at all levels can be restructured, improved and Brooking can finally get on with development then we'll continue on our downward trend of technically rubbish, yet 'athletic' footballers..

    Just let them have their FA tickets and jolly-up budgets then step to the side and lets get some proper development of school coaching schemes, academy development investment and teaching kids skills not playing them into the ground so most of the best kids are shot by their teens..

    Complain about this comment

    8. At 8:22pm on 10 Jul 2010, LeeMeade wrote:
    For whatever reason (could make millions if i knew), England does not produce many players with the level of technical skills that can compete with the best that Spain and other countries produce.

    Not sure if it's the clubs themselves that are looking for players with a more physical, rugged skill-set that fits with the ideal EPL seems to promote. Someone mentioned that Messi would never have made it in English football with his lack of size used to overlook his other transcendent gifts.

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    9. At 8:30pm on 10 Jul 2010, Ozilinho wrote:
    Seriously who made up this "big 5", it is far far from the real best 5 players in the world. Except Messi, i think Sneijder,Villa,Robben,Schweinsteiger,Fabiano,Higuain to name a few can all claim to be better than these 4 pretenders. Rooneys inclusion is particularily ridiculous as realistically without being England he's barely top 30.

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    10. At 8:39pm on 10 Jul 2010, BognorRock wrote:
    Strange article. The team for tomorrow will most likely be Casillas, Capdevilla, Puyol, Ramos, Pique, Alonso, Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Villa and Pedro. All but 1 of these play for just 2 very very dominant clubs who, due to the massively unfair TV rights system they have in Spain can purchase the best players (such as Alonso, Villa, Ramos) and keep the ones they produce themselves (Xavi, Iniesta, Casillas etc). If this Spain side had players from, say 10 different La Liga sides then you might have a point and the Spanish League could be praised. The fact though is that they play for just Barca and Real who will win the Spanish League between them for probably the next 25 years. Say what you like about the Premier League, but the way TV money is distributed is infinitely fairer than in Spain. My point is that La Liga isn't particularly great, just Barca and Real Madrid.

    Also, weren't English players being slated a couple of weeks ago because they don't go abroad to play? Now the Spanish players are praised and lauded for it and its seen as a reason why Spain are so good. Talk about damned if you do, damned if you don't.


    ========================================================

    havent agreed more about a comment than this one above.

    good comment bognor rock

  • Comment number 70.

    10. At 8:39pm on 10 Jul 2010, BognorRock wrote:
    Strange article. The team for tomorrow will most likely be Casillas, Capdevilla, Puyol, Ramos, Pique, Alonso, Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Villa and Pedro. All but 1 of these play for just 2 very very dominant clubs who, due to the massively unfair TV rights system they have in Spain can purchase the best players (such as Alonso, Villa, Ramos) and keep the ones they produce themselves (Xavi, Iniesta, Casillas etc). If this Spain side had players from, say 10 different La Liga sides then you might have a point and the Spanish League could be praised. The fact though is that they play for just Barca and Real who will win the Spanish League between them for probably the next 25 years. Say what you like about the Premier League, but the way TV money is distributed is infinitely fairer than in Spain. My point is that La Liga isn't particularly great, just Barca and Real Madrid.

    Also, weren't English players being slated a couple of weeks ago because they don't go abroad to play? Now the Spanish players are praised and lauded for it and its seen as a reason why Spain are so good. Talk about damned if you do, damned if you don't.


    ========================================================

    havent agreed more about a comment than this one above.

    good comment bognor rock

  • Comment number 71.

    54. At 10:28am on 11 Jul 2010, fatdave wrote:

    I'm with Tony Bowling (@6) and GunnerFlag (@43) on this. I would also go on to suggest a reason why too few English players are good enough to play in the Premier League. I believe its the high value we place on winning that pervades our junior clubs. This emphasises endeavour and organisation above individual skill from a very young age.

    I disagree. I think the culture in this country has been to remove competition from all levels, with an everyone’s a winner approach and everyone gets a fair go whether their good or not.

    A bit of endeavour, organisation and a feeling of loss might be what our kids need to understand they have to work to win, work for their place in the team. It’s not an entitlement

    Unfortunately I think we'll go the other way by ensuring that our English boys get a "Fair go" in the premier league

  • Comment number 72.

    I think it's been quite evident this tournament that the Spanish, generally, are more confident and more skillful on the ball than the English. This, I would hazard a guess, is because so many Spanish kids play so much more football than the average English child, something I presume is a result of us having a trio of 'big' sports - football, rugby and cricket - whereas the Spanish really only have one, football. Of course, they do play handball and basketball as well, but it still seems true that one sees a lot more football being played in Spain, something I suppose the better weather also contributes to!

    This theory would also explain the technical superiority of the Brazillians and the other South American countries, and explain why the USA are (as yet) not much of a threat on the world stage, football being at least 4th in their prioties.

    Feel free to prove me wrong!

  • Comment number 73.

    Don't think I'd want it to happen as pretty controversial, but not seen it mentioned yet. (maybe even a good subject for a blog)
    Any chance the FA will look at part of Germany's international record and Spain's recent international success, being due to the top clubs reserve teams playing in the domestic leagues. Just can't play in the same division as the parent club.
    Barcelona B and Villareal B will be playing the Segunda division this season. (Equivalent of the Championship). Castilla (Read Madrid B) playing the 3rd tier. (Equivalent of Division 1)
    Bayern Munich II, Werder Bremen II are currently in the 3rd tier.

    Surely an argument that their nations top prospects get picked up by the top teams and are playing a higher level of competitive football at a lower age than the reserve leagues over here. Also as the reserve club will probably play a similar system to the senior, players will find it easier to integrate themselves into the senior club earlier as already adapted to that system; more continuity.
    All this whilst still having access to the top level facilities and coaches & top level players to mentor and seek advice from.
    Converse argument that should stop the top clubs poaching all the best youngsters, but most international level prospects will be highly ambitious and have belief that they can break through at those top teams.
    I'm wondering about the recent development with Arsenal and a fair few other clubs' reserve teams pulling out of the reserve league this upcoming season. Alternative to above, relaxing the loan system so that the championship clubs and so on, can select more than 2 long-term loans on matchdays.
    Fear that gonna be lots of youngsters that might stagnate if can't get into the senior squad, aren't playing reserve football this season and can't get a loan out, due to restrictive rules.

    As I said, highly controversial as putting Arsenal Reserves or Man Utd Reserves into the domestic leagues, knocks out some of the 92 existing professional clubs in the football league.

  • Comment number 74.

    I don't buy into that nonsense that the spanish team is successful cos their players play at home. what about italy??
    Also, why have they not been successful all this while, afterall, they have been playing at home ever since?
    it is an oversimplification of a truly complex situation, and really, an insult to us the readers.
    a better statement would have been 'the spanish team is better because they have a midfield, and central defense composed almost entirely of players who play in the same club side'.

  • Comment number 75.

    #73

    Like this point. Maybe a way to go but expanding the leagues? or bringing a higher profile to the reserve leagues?

    Whats sad is that a lot of the talent are attracted to top clubs either by wages or a belief they are better, and rot in our reserve system, loaned out to league one or championship sides and end up being good "second tier" players

    How do we get top clubs to take the risks and give them time or suppliment the young players so they don't feel the need to move? Central contracts for under 21's? based on club games played?

    Or Premier league under 21's? satsify gltiz and give people a good view of the up coming stars?

  • Comment number 76.

    I live and work just outside Barcelona and have done so for the last two years. I also play in and run a team made up of players of many nationalities, playing in a football league in Barcelona, Spaniards included.

    A couple of weeks ago I watched a a game being played before our game was due to start and the players were all local players of about 14-15 years of age. The standard of the play was very impressive and the thing that stood out for me was the lack of incentive to "get stuck in", etc, etc.. and that one of the best players on the field was a Jan Molby-type central midfielder with a kilo or two too many to be have been considered a central midfielder back in the UK... he didn't run much and barely set foot outside the centre circle, but his range of passing and touch were something to be admired... and his team was the lesser of the two teams on the pitch, so it wasn't as if he was playing like this in the better team.

    In our own adult team, we have a blend of talented Spanish and Argentine forward players and more workmanlike mainly British defensive players, and most of the teams in our league are of a similar nature.... there are some talented British forward players, but they are few and far between.

    However, we also have a mixture of British and Spanish referees and the difference in style between the two and the level of contact on tackles that they will allow is incredible. Obviously the Spaniards allowing much less than the British, and the Spanish players in our team often complain of the permisiveness of the British referees.

    Furthermore, most of the pitches here are either artificial or dust-type and a sliding challenge on a dust pitch is not something to be recommended. As a kid growing up in Liverpool, the quality of the pitches left much to be desired and the it was almost impossible to run more than 2 yards with the ball at your feet, especially as you were always encouraged to hump it as far away from your own goal as possible.

    I don't think it's so simple as to talk about money, La Liga, Premiership, or anything else, it's much, much more complicated. The standard of games between teams such as Zaragoza and Osasuna leaves much to the imagination, and many people in the UK only get to see Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid when they watch Spanish football. Real Madrid only recently startedto sign Spanish players, having always recently recruited big name foreigners.

    Barcelona are a fantastic team, and the Spanish national team is based on their deep understanding of each others type of play. 7 starting players in teh agme against Germany and if you were to add Victor Valdes as a possible 8th player it's easy to understand the basis ogf their success.

    Tonight I'll be watching the game in a bar with friends from our team wanting Spain to win... Why? Because I live in Spain? No... simply because they play football the way it should be played and I hope they win this and many more world cups to come.

  • Comment number 77.

    For all of the people extolling the virtues of La Liga over the EPL and pointing to a direct correlation of success between the domestic league and international team - surely this doesn't stand up especially when you consider past successful Brazilian teams because their senior players featured predominantly in Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1.

    That Spain have a better youth policy I wouldn't argue against. England are fairly tripe in this area in comparison to so many countries that it's embarrassing. We don't put the financial dedication or infra-structure required in place. But I'd lay this blame at the FA's door, not the EPL. Although not entirely isolated (some financial culpability is inevitable), surely the EPL, as the top league, will want the finished product or at least individuals that are at a high level and promise more to make the club successful. The EPL is an end-product, not the starting ingredient, of what's wrong with England's youth policy.

    If the top 20 clubs (read: financially most stable and able, in theory) are not chock full of English quality, then maybe that quality isn't there to be reaped. Other minor factors aside (the seeming trend we put an extra 2-4 million on the price tag of players - why spend that much when you can get the same elsewhere for less?), it's the FA I'd place 90% of the blame at.

    Is Spain's recent success (of which they are experiencing as the traditionally successful countries are in transition) born out of a strong league - which hasn't changed in over 20 years and they're only winning things now? does Brazil have a strong league? Germany? Holland?! - I just don't buy the link between a top league's success and the national team.

    Just some thoughts to mull over.

  • Comment number 78.

    David Bond is hot

  • Comment number 79.

    That was the worst world cup tournament I have ever seen.
    If Spain are the World champions and have only scraped 1-0 victories in the Final, semis, quarters and the other bloomin one against Portugal what a complete load of rubbish football has now become.
    Overpaid prima donnas, too much mega money from T.V. ruining the game.
    I'm gonna start watching curling.

  • Comment number 80.

    There is one difference that we like to ignore - La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga are all national-level leagues. The EPL is a regional-level league alongside the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish leagues.
    We can only progress as a footballing nation if we abandon petty regionalism and have just one national football association, one football pyramid topped by one premier league, and one national team. I can already hear the groans of regionalists but it wouldn't be that difficult to organise. We don't need absurd suggestions like "Scottish clubs would have to join the bottom of the English pyramid". Just as the (old) First Division broke away to form a new league, we can have a new UK Premier League with the top 16 EPL clubs plus the top 2 or 3 SPL clubs and maybe a club or two from Northern Ireland. Then build a pyramid below that, similar to the FA plan for the English pyramid? At Conference level, there could be a third division alongside Con North and Con South, and three more regional leagues alongside the Northern Premier, Southern and Isthmian leagues.
    Don't tell me about travelling distances because the UK is smaller than France, Spain, Germany or Italy.
    If the English FA, SFA, FAW and IFA are worried about their status, we could keep them on as regional FA's but we have to stop the absurdity of playing international football using regional teams.
    If we had done this fifty years ago, we wouldn't have had gifted players like Dalglish, Rush, Bellamy, Giggs and Best barely registering on the international scene.

  • Comment number 81.

    I congratulate Spain. May be they deserve to win or not, I do not know. What is very intriguing in this 2010 WC is that some countries got robbed. England, USA, Algeria and this evening, Holland too got robbed courtesy of an English referee; Webb. The goal scored was from an offside position. FIFA is a monopoly and all these robberies will continue unabated.

  • Comment number 82.

    Looks like Robben should have an anger management course or an operation to sew up his mouth. If I were his ref, I'd have offered him the whistle or a red card.
    But what happened to the Dutch? They seem to have swapped Total Football for Total Mayhem. And as for their Coach, he should be charged with bringing the game into disrepute for his reaction to receiving a poxy silver medal.
    Hey ho! don't bother about offering me any tickets for the next WC - I'd rather go watch the Sunday League where some of the players are interested in playing first and foremost and winning is a bonus before going off to the pub for a couple of beers. Time the Government took a bigger slice of the money at the top level of Football - there's enough of it swilling about.
    Here's a thought - what about a system whereby the team that makes the least backward passes in a game gets a bonus goal? It might make the game less boring to watch now that most players can play triangular football with their eyes shut. Apply the rule to the area of the field between the two penalty areas. A couple of independent judges, rather like boxing's points scoring system, would be needed and probably a subtle parallel lining system in pale blue or red (in fact, the mowing of most pitches would make that unnecessary)

  • Comment number 83.

    This only goes to show that money isn't everything.The highly overpaid and overrated England mega-stars performed unbelievably dismally.The question here is-how good is the English Premier League?Zillionaires from across the continent buy clubs in England,which proceed to buy players at obscene prices followed by obscene weekly wages.How does that help England?Look at their goalkeepers.They are all at best mediocre and at worst unconceivably incompetent!But what else do you expect,when the goalkeepers for all the "top four" clubs are not English?It's a high time that the bureaucrats at the FA realise,for the good of England,that the key word in the the phrase "English Premier League" is ENGLISH!!!
    And Fabio Capello needs to discard the notion that some people have a birthright to play for England.Performance should be the main criteria,not media hype and bloated egos!!!Why should Gerrard and Lampard play in the same position? I always knew that the notion of English supremacy in football was as non-existent as a brilliant song by Eminem.I have been proven right this year-both at club and national level.

  • Comment number 84.

    68. At 1:29pm on 11 Jul 2010, I actually like Sven wrote:
    ..Stating how good a club league is based on an occasional internation competition is ridiculous. The Champion's league is the best measure and the Premier league consistantly perform well. .........................Essentially you are chosing to judge the strengths of the Premeiership based on a maximum of 7 games at the end of the season where only some of the players from the league are involved, against 4 years of consitent performance in European competition.
    ---------------------------------------
    I say:
    I agree largely with this comment. However, I can see that predominantly the success of the EPL teams in CL is delivered using more foreign players and managers, so its difficult to measure the standard/effectiveness of the National Team using the measure of the CL.

    Congratulations to Spain by the way, but I wouldn't necessarily draw any conclusion from their win, that their success was predicated on the superiority of their league, anymore than I would argue that England's lack of success in the tournament is as a direct result of Foreign players in the EPL.
    I would pose a question though. Is one reason that there are there less Englishmen abroad because there is more money in English Football on the whole. Perhaps this economic fact contributes somewhat to the ambitions of English Players. Unlike say the Top players in Developing Countries who largely play in Europe.

    League Football and International Tournament Football are very different animals. The margins between success and failure are somewhat smaller in a 7 match International Tournament than a 38 match league. You cannot manage success in an International Tournament by controlling a large proportion of the assets as is predominantly the case in League Football and also Champions league.

    That said, turning to English national game/team. I find it in many ways ridiculous, that our own FA places so much weight behind the idea that managerial success gained at clubs that control significant proportions of the assets in leagues which play a different style of football, with a different mentality, will translate into success for the National Side.

    The objectives and methods employed in English coaching, particularly with younger children do not seem to bring through or place sufficient value on the technical skills and tactical awareness that are harnessed in other countries. By the same token the methods and objectives of our FA in selecting a national manager do little to place any value on experience and understanding of our National game, which is surely a requirement to effectively manage the National Side.

  • Comment number 85.

    Lets not forget, 2 years ago at the European Championships it was in fact Liverpool (and not Barcelona or Real Madrid) who had the most Spanish players in the Spanish squad.

    So, in reality, this article isn't really that accurate.

  • Comment number 86.

    I don't care. This World Cup has been played by a selection of teams set out, by and large, not to lose. This even holds true for the winner. Their style of play has been developed to keep the ball away from the opposition. They play with a single striker and two defensive midfield players. If this is the future of football I'll find some other sport to watch.

  • Comment number 87.

    The premiership best league in the world? nah not in my book all it does is hide the technical inadequacies of the englihs players.

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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