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Barcelona and Real Madrid set to battle for supremacy again

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Phil Minshull | 20:16 UK time, Thursday, 25 August 2011

Madrid

Finally, there will be football in La Liga this weekend after the players’ union and the top two division’s clubs worked out some of their differences and the strike was called off.

Now, we can concentrate on what’s happening on the pitch rather than behind-the-scenes but once again it looks like being a two-horse race in Spain between current champions Barcelona and their eternal rivals Real Madrid.

Long gone are the days when the likes of Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna, the only other teams apart from the two Spanish giants to triumph in the last 20 years, could contemplate upsetting the status quo.

The only time in the last seven years when anybody has eased themselves between Barca and Real was when Villarreal finished second in 2007-08.

Messi

Barcelona's Lionel Messi tricks his way past the Real Madrid defence during the Spanish Cup final. PHOTO GETTY

Last season, Valencia and Villarreal earned themselves places in the lucrative Champions League with third and fourth place but the massive gap between them and second-placed Real was 21 and 30 points respectively and demonstrates how much distance there is between the rest of the top flight of Spanish football.

 

“Barcelona and Madrid, face to face again without any third contender,” was the headline of an editorial in the Spanish sports daily Marca just over a week ago, when the league was originally expected to get underway.

I think that says it all.

Nearly every other club, not least the six (Mallorca, Zaragoza, Racing Santander, Rayo Vallecano, Real Betis and Granada) that are in administration to protect them from their creditors which in some cases includes their own players, are worried about where their next euro is coming from.

At least, clubs in administration don’t have to be worried about points being deducted, unlike in England. There are so many of them that the LFP - the organisation of professional football clubs in Spain’s top two divisions - has tacitly acknowledged that such sanctions would make a mockery of the league.

By contrast, despite being mindful of the new UEFA edicts of financial prudency, both the Big Two have the finances to have been able to delve into the transfer market in the last couple of months.

Barca go in search of their fourth consecutive title since Pep Guardiola took over in the summer of 2008.

"The fourth season is different from the first, the motivations are different. It's a little calmer, but I still have the same enthusiasm and desire to play football well,” said Guardiola recently, despite continued speculation about whether he will still be in the same job this time next year as he only has a contract to the end of the season.

Four-in-a-row would be a truly meaningful achievement for Guardiola to put alongside all his other triumphs including two Champions League wins. The only other time Barca have put together such a streak was from 1991 to 1994, when they had the Dutch legend Johan Cruyff at the helm.

You might think otherwise if you were addicted to the soap opera surrounding Cesc Fabregas’ move from Arsenal, but this has been a quiet summer in the Camp Nou offices.

Not one of what would be considered Guardiola’s first-choice 11 has left while, in addition to Cesc, Barca has also acquired the highly rated Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez. The emergence of Thiago Alcantara, a product of Barca’s La Masia youth development centre, has also added to the depth of their squad.

There have been more comings and goings at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Jose Mourinho has brought in five new players, including the left-sided Portuguese international Coentrao from Benfica, and the Turkish internationals Nuri Sahin and Hamit Altintop.

“This is genuinely a team that could end the dictatorship of Barca,” added Marca and Guardiola has acknowledged on several occasions that Real should be an even more formidable opponent that last season.

Last week’s two Supercopa matches between the pair suggest that the newspaper and Guardiola could both be right and - forgetting Mourinho’s antics and the free-for-all at the end of the second leg - also proved that even if La Liga is only about two teams, it still shouldn’t be too boring.

The joker in the pack among those chasing Barca and Real in La Liga this season could be Malaga, whose best finish in the last 25 years was eighth and who were declared bankrupt themselves and in Spanish football’s fourth tier less than 20 years ago.

Qatari sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani took over the club when they were at the very foot of the first division midway through the season and brought in former Real Madrid boss Manuel Pellegrini, who then guided them to mid-table respectability.

Using Manchester City as a blueprint for success, this summer Al-Thani has dug into his deep pockets and spent more than €60 million on nine classy reinforcements including former Real Madrid star Ruud van Nistelrooy, French international midfielder Jeremy Toulalan as well as Spanish internationals Santi Cazorla and Ignacio Monreal.

There might be a short period of adaption but it’s expected that the quality of players will mean that they could challenge the usual suspects Valencia, Villarreal, Sevilla and Atletico - who have all lost key players from last season in a bid to keep their books relatively straight - as well as a revived Athletic Bilbao for a Champions League place or a spot in next season’s Europa League.

At the other end of the table, just like in England and Italy, the promoted teams from Segunda often find life difficult. This year, it’s unlikely to be any different for Real Betis, Rayo Vallecano and Granada, with the latter back in the top flight for the first time in 35 years.

All three are also beset with financial problems and haven’t been able to bring in any meaningful reinforcements.

Another club who look as though they are set for a miserable season is Real Zaragoza.
Zaragoza also had to enter administration to stop them being declared bankrupt and have only been able to sure up their side with a scattering of players scavenged from reserve teams and returning loan players.

The respected former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre will have his hands full keeping the two-time European competition winners in the Spanish first division and the days when Zaragoza were almost on level terms with Barcelona and Real Madrid must now see like a hazy hallucination for their fans.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    So is La Liga turning into the SPL?! Has been that way for a while I know, and such a shame. Even as a Man City supporter, I know, and am downhearted that the only way for a 'small club' to win the league, is to buy every player out there after a huge injection of cash from an oil baron.

    And I hope Jose gets the boot this season, whilst his media antics can be entertaining, the guy is a black mark on the world of football.

    Happy Bank Holiday weekend everyone!

  • Comment number 2.

    PS - First?! :)

  • Comment number 3.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 4.

    I can see this turning out to be another countless la liga bashing posts of "La Liga is rubbish" "Only two teams" "Spanish football is boring" "No other nationality has the english heart and determination" "English football is best" "Premier league is more exciting" "we're the best" "yes we're the best" "they're rubbish"..........

    Anyway..

    I think this will be an interesting season. The Spanish League has always been more or less a two horse race. But i can remember back in the days when the Premier League was title was contested between Arsenal and United,before Abramovich, and people were still saying Premier League was the best. La liga has its own appeal though. The rest fight for the two other CL spots which aren't always guaranteed to the same teams like it has been in some other leagues. Villareal, Athletico, Sevilla, Valencia and now Malaga perhaps? will fancy their chances

    Will be interesting to see how Malaga does. Pellegrini is a very good coach and they've made some pretty decent signings. Valencia is another one that keeps surprising people despite the fact they keep losing their best players. As for the title i still think Barca are the favourites. Real played well in the super cup but they were well ahead in their pre season and Barca have yet to hit form.

    By the way glad to hear the strike has ended and both parties reached an agreement.

  • Comment number 5.

    The spanish league is so boring as only 2 teams can win it - Real & Barca. The premiership is so much better because only 3 teams can win it - Man Utd, Man City & Chelsea - 1 more team than the spanish league!!!

    All joking aside, the spanish league is a 2 horse race because they both get amazing financial support from the banks. Both clubs are hundreds of millions in dept and it is no wonder they have better squads than everybody else. I would even go as far to say they are probably the 2 best teams in workd football at present, and certainly have the 2 best squads.

    It is a shame Valencia decided to build a new stadium to generate an extra 20,000 seats - it has cost them a dept of over £400m and all their best players now Mata has joined the blues. Hopefully he can help Torres score a couple of goals !!!

    Hope all the teams who are bankrupt servive in some shape, but lets be honest now - if you spend money you have not got then you should have to pay the penalty. The more teams that go bust the more realistic wages & transfer fees are likely to come back into the game - especially if UEFA's financial fair play works (I hear Man City are name all their tress for £10m each sponsorship).

  • Comment number 6.

    I always look forward to LaLiga, excellent quality of football! 2 horse race? yes of course, but the PL wasn't boring when it was Man U and Arsenal always top 2 and the others competing for best of the "also rans"

    ...I'm sure i'll get abuse for this but i'm still up for a European Super League :)

  • Comment number 7.

    Since when was Ronaldo part of Reals defense?

    Would it have been too difficult to find a picture of Messi taking on one of Reals actual defenders.

    I expect this kind of lazy/sloppy journalism from the Daily Mail

  • Comment number 8.

    @5 I don't know what a Tress is but if it's worth £10m I want one!

  • Comment number 9.

    It'll be Barça again. The Supercoppa demonstrated that Mourinho still doesn't have the measure of Guardiola. RM won all seven of their pre-season matches, Barça lost a couple. In their last seven meetings RM has triumphed just once.

  • Comment number 10.

    Once again it looks like being a two-horse race in England between current champions Man Utd and their eternal rivals Chelsea.

    Long gone are the days when the likes of Arsenal and Blackburn, the only other teams apart from the two English giants to triumph in the last 20 years, could contemplate upsetting the status quo.

    The only time in the last seven years when anybody has eased themselves between Man Utd and Chelsea was when Liverpool finished second in 2008-09.

    The joker in the pack among those chasing Man Utd and Chelsea this season could be Man City, whose best finish in the last 25 years was third and who were in English football’s third-tier less than 20 years ago.

    This summer Sheikh Mansour has dug into his deep pockets and spent more than £78 million on classy reinforcements.

    There might be a short period of adaption but it’s expected that the quality of players will mean that they could challenge the usual suspects Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal- who have all lost key players from last season for a Champions League place or a spot in next season’s Europa League.

  • Comment number 11.

    People comparing La Liga to the SPL is pointless. The last time a side outside of the big two in Spain won the league title was the same time a side outside of Man Utd or Chelsea won the Premier League, the reason that Madrid and Barca are so far ahead of the rest is because they are so much better than the rest, they are the top two sides in Europe, Barca played in second gear in the champions league final and won comfortably in the end, put both sides in the PL and they would be the clear top two there also.

  • Comment number 12.

    stupid league where fighting amongst the biggest teams is the order of the day.. mtscheewwww

  • Comment number 13.

    Mourinho has a method of beating Barcelona - it's basically to get his players to cheat and roll around all game and then moan about it afterwards when it doesn't work. That's how he did it with Inter and he's spent the last two years doing it with Real, only unsuccessfully. I used to love Mourinho when he wound up Rafa Benitez but now he just seems like a bitter shadow of his former self.

    The indiscipline seen in the games between the two sides is very similar to the Old Firm and I can only see the Spanish league going the same way as Scotland. Soon enough no-one will be able to get near the big two in terms of football, recruitment or finance, and so Spain will lose co-efficient points and eventually players will stop wanting to go there. By the end, players won't even want to play for Barca or Real for the same reasons they don't go to Rangers or Celtic.

  • Comment number 14.

    '7.At 08:09 26th Aug 2011, Cad-man1 wrote:
    Since when was Ronaldo part of Reals defense?

    Would it have been too difficult to find a picture of Messi taking on one of Reals actual defenders.

    I expect this kind of lazy/sloppy journalism from the Daily Mail'

    Cad-man1 - are you joking? Ronaldo's 'position' doesn't preclude him from dropping back and defending. Thereby making a him a part of the defence.

    If you were joking I don't get it.

  • Comment number 15.

    Seems to me Spanish football is in a right mess. How was this ever allowed to happen? Surely the powers that be have alot to answer for.

    You could argue that it's the fault of the people that actually run the football clubs.
    Bur should the la liga big cheeses have rules and regulations in place to ensure clubs don't go onto admin?

    Ultimately, it's the fans that suffer.

    By the way Phil, hope youre ready for a massive couple if days of comments and postings re: which league is the best, worst, exciting, etc. EPL or La Liga.

    BBC technical support and moderators are going to earn their overtime with this blog!

    How people can rate la liga ahead of the EPL I don't know.
    Youve said it yourself, its Madrid or Barca.
    And it's going to be that way for along time to come.
    I can see Barca winning all 38 league games this season!
    Very exciting!!!

    In la liga the fight for 2nd to 6th be good, like you say.
    In the prem the fight for 1st to 20th will be facinating!
    That's the biggest difference between the 2 leagues.

    @7 cadman1

    That still of Messi is when he is about to dink the ball over Cassillas for his goal after dancing through the real defence. The fact that Ronaldo is in the frame is a coincidence. Abit harsh to accuse Phil or the BBC of 'lazy/sloppy' journalism because of that.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi Phil,

    United fan here.

    Obviously it's hard to see the Champion's League Final being anything but us against Barca again this year. Based on the way our youngsters are linking up do you think we'll be able to bridge the gap on Barca this year?

  • Comment number 17.

    Phil, European football is a two horse race. Real and Barcelona. Having seen the CL final between Barcelona and what was the best of the rest upto this season (ManU), I am sorry but the pack behind Barca are 10 miles adrift. Except Madrid who seem to be closing the gap. If you want evidence of this, watch the Eurpean super cut this evening. I predict Barca will thrash Porto (a two times winners and regular CL side) 5-0. In the group stages, Barca will thrash AC Milan (7 times winners) by a big margin in one of their two meetings. Something like 4-1..

    Having said that, I am very dissapointed with Spanish football. This is a league where a manager can quietly walk up behind the opposing coach and poke his finger into the the opponent's eye, and nothing is done about it! Pathetic to say the least.

  • Comment number 18.

    Don't watch Spannish football. The Barcelona-Real Madrid adverts are the reason why. Spend the whole game, cheating, fighting or just faking injury. It is dreadfully dull. Granted English teams are also gulity of this but it is not quite so teadous to watch. Wasn't there racist abuse during the recent Madrid-Barce game?

  • Comment number 19.

    @13
    what would you say about Busquet's, Pedro's, Alves', Mashcherano's, etc PLAYACTING.
    @10
    Completely agree, what people don't realise is the premier league is an actual same version of La Liga but the difference is La Liga has the World's top 2 teams while Premier League, well, is a bit more exciting.
    So anyway nice to see Messi get past Ronaldo while he's doing a knee slide.
    I know many people love barca and Messi and Pedro and Villa and Xavi, etc but the only thing that's stopping myself from supporting them in the clasicos is they ussually playact, Busquets being the main culprit. It's like Braca's dark side.
    I'm surprised why UEFA don't investigate the playacting but I can see barca getting the la liga title again unless morinho stops his "kick anything that moves and stamp anything that's on the floor" tactic vs barca

  • Comment number 20.

    @7: Easy tiger... When Messi scored that goal Ronaldo was in a defensive postition therefore making him a part of the defence! Says a lot about you that out of the whole article that's what you chose to focus on.

    The argument about La liga being a two horse race will forever rage on and has been clearly illustrated by many before me, the same could and probably does apply for most top leagues so I say enjoy the football and stop trying to compare any of them.

  • Comment number 21.

    Well Spanish League is a two Horse race but EPL is a one horse race with the Odd year of chelsea winning, and b4 Mancity's Money Top 4 was predictable, but La Liga top 4 is not assured, maybe 4 Valencia but the other Spot have been Rotated by Athletico Madrid, Villarel(spelling), Sevilla and now Malaga.

  • Comment number 22.

    pindge100, firstly, happy bank holiday weekend indeed.

    However, how can a City fan really be qualified to comment on Jose being a black mark on Football when the Blue Moon has slowly started the process of runing football transfers. We have the likes of City and Chelseki to blame for the ever increasing, over inflated transfer fees. I'm a Liverpool fan and we should not never have paid as much as we did for Downing and Caroll but thats the market!!

    On the topic of this piece, La Liga is crap. Barcca and Madrid might be epic teams but I for one am much happier with the EPL :P

  • Comment number 23.

    @10 that was quite poor, I am sorry, couldn't even half crack a smile.

    While the author of the blog may insinuate, that teams occupying 3rd and 4th places in both leagues are in it merely for the ride leading up to Champions League participation, I believe there is a considerable difference in respective quality. This difference being in favour of the English clubs. Arsenal and Chelsea compared to a Villareal and Valencia? Arsenal and Chelsea any day.

    The reason I believe many (myself being among those) consider La Liga boring is the complete lack of tackling. I know you can dig up some youtube video of a La Liga player kicking out, but that is not tackling. Tackling is what goes on week in week out in the EPL. Where defenders are proactive instead of watching from 10 yards out what Messi or whoever is going to do next. Do you think It's reasonable for people in Spain to score 40 goals while in England the joint top strikers net 20? It isn't so much the strikers as the tactical strength and athletic ability of players in modern English football.

    I thought the comparison with the SPL is quite apt. Little to no intrigue. Wait, there is some intrigue, will Cesc make Barca's starting XI?

  • Comment number 24.

    Although Barça and Real Madrid hate each other they are actually very similar. Two Barça ex-presidents. Nuñez and Laporta, are both in trouble with the law and one should dispel immediately the idea that only Real Madrid is politically corrupt. Barça represents Catalonia and uses the "mes que un club" propoganda call to draw their legions of supporters to the Nou Camp with their Catalan flags and anti-Spanish banners -"Catalonia is not Spain"- yet they seem happy to play in the Spanish league. Something not right there.

    Meanwhile Real Madrid have no problem getting huge loans from Banks and nationalised Cajas to finance their extraordinary transfer business. A few years back the club sold its properties to the regional government in Madrid for an inflated price while continuing to use the facilities. They were able to pay off a huge debt and finance the purchase of the so-called 'galacticos'.

    Another important factor is that Real and Barça can negotiate separate TV deals, There is no collective agreement like the Prem. I don't really understand why other clubs tolerate this situation since they are also a fundamental part of the league, but they do.

    So we're going to have another two-horse race and I predict another victory for Barça- I also think Rafa Benitez will end up in Madrid sooner or later when the Madrid fans finally turn on the egomaniac Mourinho.

  • Comment number 25.

    @Zeemo its Manchester United or anyone else

  • Comment number 26.

    nice post Oliver, sooner or later the 2 will become victims of their own success

  • Comment number 27.

    @13. your talking rubbish, its Barca who use those tactics, Real are use to physical games if you've ever watched them play the Basque teams like Athletico Bilbao etc you would know that, but they can handle it. Barca usually work harder at pressing the opposition, keep position better and finish better than the opposition. Real are the only team who work harder than Barca and Barca don't like it, thats why they play act. But Barca still have edge on keeping possession and finishing.

  • Comment number 28.

    @23 My point was to show the EPL is just as predicatable but we don't want to kid ourselves or do anything about it. The CL is taking the Big Teams away from the smaller ones.

    Ineresting you say Arsenal and Chelsea when actually Chelsea finished second. Even if we accept Man City and Arsenal are better than Villareal and Valencia, we have to accept that Barca and Real are better than Man Utd and Chelsea. Quality for the rest of the league is much of muchness but I would put Spurs and Liverpool above the other Spanish teams, and the worst La Liga team above the worst Premier League teams.

    You are free to find whatever league you want boring. I didn't see Man utd doing much tackling in the Champions League final against Barca. Instead they were as mesmorised with Messi as the La Liga defences so perhaps the way Barca play means you can't commit yourself. Proper tackling went out of the Premiership years ago and it's now about not committing yourself and upper body strength. The Championship is the place to go if you want to see real tackling but I'm guessing you would find that boring as well for different reasons.

    Your argument about strikers scoring 40 goals in La Liga is valid (I mean who wants to see goals when they watch football) but since Barca thumped 4 past Arsenal and 3 past Man Utd, whilst Real scored 5 against Spurs I don't think we can assume English defences would fare much better against the quality of what are probably the two best teams in Europe at the moment.

  • Comment number 29.

    A few years back the club sold its properties to the regional government in Madrid for an inflated price while continuing to use the facilities. They were able to pay off a huge debt and finance the purchase of the so-called 'galacticos'.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    More rubbish who thinks this stuff up ? the Real Training ground was sold because
    it was in an area that had a high value and wanted for development, the training ground was moved to an area of low value therefore they made a profit.

  • Comment number 30.

    The main reason that this is a two horse race is television rights. It is completely ridiculous that the top two can negotiate the rights and the rest just get the pickings, until that is rectified the status quo will remain.
    Not forgetting of course that if Real have any financial problems the government bail them out, odd considering this is not allowed by UEFA, never seems to get mentioned.
    How is it these are the best two teams in the world when it seems to me (utd fan) that it is recently between Utd and Barca for the CL, odd!!
    I don't think it is quite at the stage of the SPL but something needs to be done to help the smaller clubs, IMO that has to be correcting the television rights.

  • Comment number 31.

    I sincerely hope this will be Murinho's last year in charge of Real. He is single-handedly destroying the once legendary team. His recent "antics" were disgraceful and should see him receive a lengthy ban. Perhaps the Madrid owners will see the light and get rid of this despicable sham of a football manager.

  • Comment number 32.

    After the champions league final every journalist was proclamining that English clubs should follow the Barcelona/spainish blueprint, that our football was inferior and that la liga was a far more entertaining and better footballing league. Now a few months later before the seasons even begun people are saying it's boring and only got 2 decent sides!

  • Comment number 33.

    Good observation #10, RoyaltyinTheChampionship ;)
    Realistically though, this season will be a 2-horse race btwn Utd and City.
    I expect Liverpool to push Chelsea for 3rd. Arsenal & Spurs then contesting the Europa League places.

    Phil: Barca have spent over 60m pounds and you call it a quiet summer?? Tell that to the rest of Europe! Though it will be interesting to see if Jose can conquer them in his 2nd season after the reinforcements he's made..

  • Comment number 34.

    @28, you are omitting the obvious reason, it is extremely difficult to end a game against Barcelona with 11 men.

  • Comment number 35.

    The thing about the english league is that when SAF eventually retires or pops his clogs Man utd will fall from their lofty perch and the whole league will open up. That will begin the new evolution of the Premier League.

  • Comment number 36.

    @25 paghy loves many

    To sum up my opinion on the whole matter in one sentence-

    'La Liga is a great league to watch but the EPL is better.'

    However the point I was making is that 3rd to 6th will be a battle in la liga. As Phil said.
    But every position in the EPL will be a battle. Hence making it better.

    In la liga you will get Madrid pushing Barca. And that's ya lot.

    In the EPL you will get Chelsea and then city pushing Utd.
    And people alot more qualified than me see Liverpool as possible outsiders if they gel.
    (I disagree)

    Just felt the need to clear that up before nibs and his mates turn up ready for battle.

  • Comment number 37.

    I'm not sure how good Madrid really are. Better than Chelsea, United or City? Last year they had an easy run to the semis before being outclassed by Barça. We didn't see Real play a top European side (apart from Barça).

    My feeling is that they're a good team but not great.

  • Comment number 38.

    @34: Now you're just coming across as petty and unable to reason or articulate a decent argument. 28 gave valid point about EPL teams meeting Spanish sides and being thumped and all you can say is that it's extremly difficult to end a game against Barca with all 11 men?! Do the Barca players carry the cards around with them?!

  • Comment number 39.

    The distribution of media revenue's in Spain makes England look fair and competitive by comparison!

  • Comment number 40.

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

  • Comment number 41.

    Valencia have been very unlikely with their new stadium. It was being financed by the sale of the Maestalla (spelling?), nothing wrong with that, most clubs have done the same in the past. Then the economic crisis hit had the land on both the Maestalla and the new stadium plummeted and Valencia are now paying over the odds for a new stadium which has resulted in them having to sell Villa, Mata and any other players to finance the new stadium and give the Manager the cost of a paella and caña as funds for a replacement

  • Comment number 42.

    #40 SoriaSaint

    I know second hand that there is something of a brown paper bag culture in Spain. And I'm not talking about a homage to the seminal track of the same name from Roni Size!

  • Comment number 43.

    The "second tier" la liga teams like Valencia, Sevilla, Athletico and Villareal are not that bad either. I can remember Athletico beating Fulham and Liverpool in Europa cup and both Athletico and Valencia doing quite well against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United in the Champions League in recent times.

  • Comment number 44.

    @38 irrespective of how you choose to qualify my opinions, I haven't seen anything different from Barca since 2009, they still drop in rigor mortis at the slightest suggestion of a physical contact, referees award their players a disproportionate amount of 'protection' and I really don't feel a need to defend my assessment of comparitive League strengths. The world says the EPL is the best football to watch.

  • Comment number 45.

    Barca - A side that plays very very very beautiful football but has it's own dark sides.
    If you have realised, Chelsea were the only team came close to beating Barca by a greater margin at Agregrate in 2009 if it wasn't for that stupid ref denying us those 4 penalty claims.
    The score well could have been this: 5-1 agregrate with Lampard scoring 4 of those from the spot.
    I seriously hope Spain(they have 6 of barca's players in the starting 11) don't ruin the EURO 2012 by playacting as it's a UEFA based competiton because in CL, when ever they play the playacting tactics and be racist, UEFA don't even bother to investigate it!
    Anyway Spain are 2nd in the rankings. Holland will kick their bums if they play act and come all the way to the final.

  • Comment number 46.

    #45 Krish-The-Dude_CFC

    Anyway Spain are 2nd in the rankings. Holland will kick their bums if they play act and come all the way to the final.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Like they did in the 2010 World Cup final? Oh, er, hang on.....

    (Actually, I agree that the darker side of Barcelona's game does detract from all the pouring over their better side. They are helped in having so much possession because, as has been said, if you try to tackle them, they invariably win a free kick. Their players and the ref don't let you get the ball off of them. They really should have been taught a lesson at Stamford Bridge that night. One shot on target and that was in the 92nd minute. It's still go-smacking to think back to it now.)

  • Comment number 47.

    The Real Madrid and Barça games are now an embarassment to Spanish football. It has basically resulted in something more like playground squabbles where both teams are equally to blame. Take the two teams away and La Liga is extremely entertaining. Until the next 3 biggest teams can get closer financially to Real Madrid and Barça all Spanish competitions, not just football, will be won by these 2 teams.

    Spanish clubs have always been in debt or been financed by dodgy practices ie when Atletico Madrid won the league and cup double it was financed by the tax payers of Marbella. The economic crisis is probably a good thing in the long term for Spanish football as it will force clubs to clean up their acts financially.

  • Comment number 48.

    Nobody should be in any doubt that it will be close between them this year, or that these 2 sides are miles ahead of every other team in Europe. People are dreaming if they think Madrid won't be serious contenders this season, a truly amazing squad of players (although I still hope and think Barca will do it). Anyone who thinks El Classico is a boring game needs their head checked - did they watch the 2 legs of the Super Cup?

    On Barca's playacting, really you're talking about Busquets here, with the odd Dani Alves or Pedro moment thrown in. This isn't a Barca problem, it's what loads of players on the continent have always done.

    Di Maria is far, far worse than anyone. He doesn't even need to be fouled at all to roll around in agony, at least the Barca players have generally been fouled to begin with. In general, I find embellishment far more acceptable than the underhand tactics Mourinho has installed in his side - it's far less dangerous for one thing!

  • Comment number 49.

    #45 - English envy at its best. The phrase 'green with envy' did not just happen. It was invented by the English for a reason. It is so common over there that the place should be renamed greenland.
    Maybe not, greenland already exists! Mars would do..

  • Comment number 50.

    @41: Yes that proves you must always get your finances in order first and not make assumptions about future income.

    Another unlucky blow for Valencia FC was that the regional government also went bankrupt and so has no money to bail the club out (F1 racetrack, Copa America, Ciudad de Ciencias etc). Can't imagine this happening in Madrid or Barcelona.

  • Comment number 51.

    Whats that, another playing coming towards me.

    *falls over*

    Barca training camp.

  • Comment number 52.

    48.489. Bingo! The diving is not a Barca problem alone, its pretty widespread and is a continental thing that will take time to be fully eradicated. England has shown the way and the others WILL follow sooner or later. Im not condoning the diving that some Barcelona players do but it gets totally blown out of proportion by people who will deny to their last breath that they are envious of their recent success. Busquests and Alves are the main culprits, they are occasionally joined by Villa and Iniesta. But there are others like Messi, Xavi, Puyol, Pique, Abidal etc who rarely ever go down unless they have genuinely lost balance.

    Its just unfair to class all of them as divers. Hopefully Busquets cuts that out from his game as he matures because its a disgrace to his club.

  • Comment number 53.

    "England has shown the way and the others WILL follow sooner or later"


    Oh come on, lets not play whiter than white here. We have our fair share of cheaters in both the league and national team.

  • Comment number 54.

    Deloitte's Money League Study highlights an interesting fact, Barcelona is one of the bottom clubs in terms of capacity utilisation with only 77%. This means even its own fans aren't bothered to fill the stadium and watch the Garcia-Lorca-worthy plays. As a comparison, the same study shows Newcastle United to have an 81% capacity utilisation for the same period (2009/2010).

  • Comment number 55.

    @ 45 -You are right. Barça also has a good cast of theatrical performers, though none of them quite so prolific as Drogba.

  • Comment number 56.

    @50,

    and the regional president was forced to resign by his own party to fight corruption allegations.

  • Comment number 57.

  • Comment number 58.

    @50,

    I don't think its the regional government's responsibility to bail them out. I think Villarreal, Levante and especially Hercules would be unhappy about that.

  • Comment number 59.

    Royalty (post #10) - Leeds have also won the English championship in the last twenty years.

    United and Chelsea have duopolised the League title for the past seven seasons, but they're not pulling away from all the rest at an exponential rate. Liverpool had a real chance of winning the league in 2009, Arsenal could/should have won at least one in the past few seasons, and it's clear that if either Chelsea or United stumble even slightly then there are other teams that will overtake them.

    In the past twenty years United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Blackburn and Leeds have been champions, and Aston Villa, Newcastle and Liverpool have also finished second. Our league could be more competitive, but that's still a decent list of clubs.

    All that said, I'm not here to argue that the Premier League is better than La Liga. They are very different beasts. The technique and skill on offer in La Liga is substantially better than that of the Premier League, but in other respects our league is preferable.

    Phil - interesting blog, but like so much content on the BBC website these days it could really do with a proof read.

  • Comment number 60.

    @56. Something about suits I think. Aren't Valencia doing well considering their plight? They've had to sell 3 world champions to pay debts but they're in Europe again. They did break up the Madrid/ Barça monopoly under Benitez and for me it's the one club that could challenge- once they get into new stadium and don't have to sell their best players.

  • Comment number 61.

    Will there also be a blog on the start of the Italian league and the German league or do the BBC only hype Spain?

  • Comment number 62.

    The rest of the pack in Europe this year are so far behind Barca it's untrue with the exception of Man City (talentwise, they still need to gel) and all the old european superpowers are pale shadows of their former selves. AC Milan, Bayern, Man Utd, Lyon, Liverpool and many others are nowhere near the strength they were last decade. Barca are admittedly still probably the best, but they are made to look better by the lack of real competition. The Milan of Gattusso, Pirlo, Kaka and Sheva would have given Barca a run for their euros any day but look at them now, a misfit outfit of some players of sublime talent but no discipline mixed with some decidedly average outcasts.

  • Comment number 63.

    Its completely out of order to put any emphasis on Barcelona players "diving" - the vast majority, especially Messi, try to stay on their feet despite being fouled repeatedly. The clear offender in Madrid being the chav Pepe who should play with a hooded tracksuit .

    Regards the level of competition in Spain; the people here are only interested in Madrid and Barsa - goto any little village in a far flung corner of Spain and find the vast majority are Madrid fans. Contract that with total support in Cataluña for Barcelona, who can be regarded as representing the whole of that region.

    There are a few exceptions but on the whole people in Spain do not support their local clubs, or if they do they will always side with one of the grandes too. Marry this with saturation covergae for Madrid, and a lesser extent Barcelona, in the press and this is the result.

    It is getting boring to be honest.

  • Comment number 64.

    Please can some of the EPL professionalism worshippers wise up...

    Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are frequent divers (a certain video site will prove this). I know they dont roll around on the floor but they are still cheating by doing it...

    Also, if people dont think that players in the EPL dont dive they need their heads examined... some of the worst culprits are based there.

    RE: the EPL vs La Liga ... who cares?

    Money is all that matters in football these days. I predict that in 10 or so years, Russian teams and teams such as PSG, Malaga and Man City with huge financial backing will be regular champions league contenders ala Chelsea.

  • Comment number 65.

    At 2009, Semi Final 2nd Leg, Stamford Bridge: Chelsea vs Barcelona.
    At injury time, Essien failed to clear the ball which made Henry(i think it was him) to pass to Iniesta who blasted it in.
    That's how Barcelona came Champions and number 1 in the world due to a clearance failure and the Ref.
    Barcelona wouldn't have been the team they were today if those didnt happen and the ref respectively giving us our penalty claim.

  • Comment number 66.

    @56 I think Valencia are doing phenomenally well. Emery is performing miracles at Valencia. For me at the moment Emery is the best manager in La Liga mainly for the lack of resources he has financially and playing wise. I think Valencia probably were hoping they would be challenging Real Madrid and Barça right now.

  • Comment number 67.

    let me start by saying that Barcelona are a great team but they have got more than their fair share of 'divers'. Added to that, any tackle / foul by the opposition results in the ref being surrounded by at least 5 Barca players. And to top it all off I can only assume that refs have been instructed not to book Messi - a handball, cynical trip and two instances of petulantly kicking the ball away in the second leg of the Super cup went completely unpunished.

  • Comment number 68.

    At 2009, Semi Final 2nd Leg, Stamford Bridge: Chelsea vs Barcelona.
    At injury time, Essien failed to clear the ball which made Henry(i think it was him) to pass to Iniesta who blasted it in.
    That's how Barcelona came Champions and number 1 in the world due to a clearance failure and the Ref.
    Barcelona wouldn't have been the team they were today if those didnt happen and the ref respectively giving us our penalty claim.
    __________________________________________________________________

    You rode your luck throughout that tie, yeah you should have had 2 penalties but Barca probably could have put 6 or 7 past you in the home leg as well as another 4 or 5 in the away leg (watch it again)

    I cant remember a team being so badly outplayed over 2 legs and not conceeding a goal until the last minute of the second leg.

    I would say you were lucky to get beat by just one.

    Also, its down in the records as a DEFEAT so who cares what you think.

  • Comment number 69.

    #64 LennonsRageConquersAll

    It's not EPL professionalism worshipping, I don't think people are promoting the EPL as the bastion of fair play.

    What people are doing is de-constructing the argument or the idea that Barcelona are the epitome of all that is good about football when we know that all the plaudits they receive are tainted by the amazing gamesmanship that they display.

    It's not Spain v England. It's Spain v perception of Spain.

    Ok?

  • Comment number 70.

    65. ok so Barcelona wouldn't have been the same team they are right now if Essien hadn't failed to clear the ball 2 years ago? Nothing to do with La Masia right? OK then. And youtube videos can be made to prove anything. The amount of shirt pulling that Carvalho and Terry used to get away with during Mourinho's reign was ridiculous not to mention Drogba's constant theatrics that could put busquets to shame.

  • Comment number 71.

    Hello!

    First point

    46.At 10:20 26th Aug 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    "Actually, I agree that the darker side of Barcelona's game does detract from all the pouring over their better side. They are helped in having so much possession because, as has been said, if you try to tackle them, they invariably win a free kick. Their players and the ref don't let you get the ball off of them."

    MrBlueBurns watching all 90 minutes of your recent game at Stoke, with half of your players Torres Drogba Lampard Kalou throwing themselves on the floor to win penalties or free kicks like they're electrocuted and the other half Cole Terry etc hounding the ref swearing & throwing balls away at every decision, I take it you must be absolutely disgusted and embarrassed by your team and what they bring to the honest English game, no?


    .

  • Comment number 72.

    With Fabregas, Alcantara and Sanchez needing to play football who will have their playing time cut?

  • Comment number 73.

    #71 nibs

    Read my post at #69.

  • Comment number 74.

    "The indiscipline seen in the games between the two sides is very similar to the Old Firm and I can only see the Spanish league going the same way as Scotland. Soon enough no-one will be able to get near the big two in terms of football, recruitment or finance, and so Spain will lose co-efficient points and eventually players will stop wanting to go there. By the end, players won't even want to play for Barca or Real for the same reasons they don't go to Rangers or Celtic."

    Sorry what? The reason players don't go to the old firm is that leicester can offer higher wages not because of boredom of the league. The only reason there is more rotation of the top 2/3 in england is because it has more large cities. There are two clubs in the capital and two in glasgow which twice the population! I am fed up with the constant condescending nonsense from english people about the spl. Give man utd a 25k a week wage structure and lets see how long rooney et al hang about. Gascoigne thought we were good enough and it was still a two horse race then...

  • Comment number 75.

    Why don't they just get equal TV right paid to the La Liga teams, then Barcelona and Real Madrid won't play each other 10 times a season for the only games that matter.

    They should pay the money evenly amongst the top 20 teams and then actually have a league not a duopoly, the PL isn't much better but the teams at the bottom can at least attract young players, experienced players at the end etc with the extra money.

    I remember when other teams in Spain actually did well in Europe other than the big two.

    I might watch some of the other games other than El Clasico if they actually mattered.

  • Comment number 76.

    #74 LeftPegOfLauders

    Gascoigne thought we were good enough and it was still a two horse race then...
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    My first laugh out loud moment of the day. Thanks. :-)

  • Comment number 77.

    @68
    WTF
    Barca could have put 6 or 7 past us at nou camp?
    They didn't and were not even close to doing that.
    Barca could have put 4 or 5 past us at the Bridge?
    Yea 1 shot on target during the whole 90 mins tells you that.
    Barca outplayed us during the both of them legs?
    ye maybe that Nou Camp one but at the bridge, we kept them at bay, they never really troubled Cech until that 93rd min goal.
    And how were we lucky?
    Yes we kept them at bay at Nou Camp thanks to Cech and at the bridge that Essien goal was pure class and infact it's Barca who were lucky thanks to the ref deniying us 4 penalty claims and they had to wait right at the end for a goal. Chelsea were the guys who were unlucky.

  • Comment number 78.

    One reason why the photo shows CR7 as part of Real's "defence" could be because the Daily Mail probably don't know what Iker Casillas (whom, even after winning the World Cup, the paper dismissed as a mere "Spanish celebrity" in a so-called "news" article about Ronaldo), Sergio Ramos, Marcelo etc. look like. Casillas and Ramos - the "faceless" world champions.

  • Comment number 79.

    #76 nicknack1

    You could argue that is was the restriction of competition brought about by individual tv deals that helped Spain become European and World Champions. (In my opinion. by being able to afford to have most of the best players at only one or two clubs meant they had more time to gel and the transition to the international stage was easier). With that in mind, I don't suppose things will change until they need to.

    England has a collective TV deal. I think Germany does and I think Italy have gone back to one.

    Perhaps UEFA could look into this as I think they're efforts for financial fair play will ultimately not achieve the desired result (and I don't agree with the result they are trying to achieve either as far as that goes!)

  • Comment number 80.

    "sure up their side"?

    Surely you mean "shore up their side"?

    I'm aware "sure up" is (disgustingly) common nowadays, but "shore up" actually makes sense in this context. "Sure up" doesn't, since it means to make more sure, and Zaragoza lack surety. Thus they need bolstering - shoring up.

  • Comment number 81.

    People talking about Barca gamesmanship must watch very little of their games - perhaps the later stages of the Champions League or the odd El Classico game? - because they are exaggerating the point no end.

    Since Mourinho went to Madrid - or more precisely since Barca thumped them 5-0 - every El Classico game has been full of underhand tactics from Madrid, the games became stop-start with lots of sneaky fouls, off the ball incidents, blocks, shirt-pulling, etc (see Pepe, Arbeloa and Carvalho). This wasn't Barca's doing, but inevitably they became embroiled in it.

    In that context and with so much at stake, players from both sides surrounded the referee all the time. In every league on the continent players wave imaginary cards and ask for bookings, they embellish fouls to gain an advantage, it's not a Barca thing. They are by far and away one of the least cynical big sides out there, so to repeatedly go on about it is either sour grapes or ignorance IMO.

  • Comment number 82.

    The discussion about media rights in La Liga is an interesting one. With no collective agreement it is up to the clubs to individually negotiate their own deals. This will clearly have an effect on the relative finances of the clubs involved (the TV rights income of Barca and Real is greater than the other 18 teams combined). This is not the end of the story though...

    If a TV company has paid large amounts of money for the rights to show Barca and Real then they are going to want to get value for money, they do this by dominating coverage with these 2 teams and looking to sell on those rights in other jurisdictions. This results in massive coverage for these teams which has a massive impact on other revenue streams (merchandise and advertising). It is no wonder that clubs at the bottom of La Liga struggle to survive. They are starved of most of their revenue streams and are desperate to try and get the 2 available CL places. La Liga is a 20 team version of the whole English League system - 20 teams in the top division and 70 teams feeding on scraps vs. 2 teams in the top division and 18 feeding on scraps.


    In England clubs go under from bad management rather than lack of revenues. In Spain it is already true that the "other 18" have no way of bridging the financial gap - the question is whether the teams from 3rd to 5th can build financial stability and still remain competitive in Europe. Up to now they have almost bankrupt themselves to do it - today they are selling their best assets so the gap to the top 2 will widen (not necessarily in terms of points as Real/Barca can still only take 6 points from each team) and make Spanish football in Europe a reflection of their domestic league.

    In England it is much less likely that this will happen in the short term as the money is distributed differently. Clubs such as Liverpool and Arsenal, while not winning the league get loads of revenue from merchandising because of previous success, and they get a fair share of TV revenue and exposure. The thing that is separating the top 4 teams from the rest is CL football and rich benefactors. This could ultimately create the same problems that Spain are going through.

  • Comment number 83.

    75@. A new TV revenue sharing model for La Liga will come into effect from 2014 season onwards..

    77@ Quite frankly officiating was horrible that night. It was the kind of game that no matter which team went through the other one would have felt hard done by Barca were lucky to go through but Chelsea certainly weren't the better team either. Only two of them were legitimate penalties, others highly debatable. Ballack could have been sent off the first leg. Barcelona were down to 10 men unfairly. Anyway water under the bridge.

  • Comment number 84.

    @83
    Yeah Agreed

  • Comment number 85.

    #59. Leeds have also won the English championship in the last twenty years.

    Doh sorry missed out Leeds! No offence meant and I always have a go at people who ignore pre-premiership football and yet I managed to do the same thing.

    That means the English champions are Man Utd(12),Chelsea(3), Arsenal(3), Leeds(1) and Blackburn(1). Spanish are: Barca(10), Real(6), Valencia(2), Deportivo(1), Atheltico (1). So both have five winners. Man Utd have won 60%, Barca have won 50%. Which one is the more predicatable league?

    >>United and Chelsea have duopolised the League title for the past seven seasons, >>but they're not pulling away from all the rest at an exponential rate. Liverpool >>had a real chance of winning the league in 2009, Arsenal could/should have won >>at least one in the past few seasons, and it's clear that if either Chelsea or >>United stumble even slightly then there are other teams that will overtake them.

    I would agree and disagree with that. The problem I have is that the CL money is allowing the big teams to get bigger. The seedings mean the same Big teams get through to the knock out stages and thus get more money and more UEFA points to allow them be seeded the following year. If it wasn't for massive external investment for Man City and Chelsea then the Premiership would be even more one sided than it already is and yet people see that as ruining the game, not realising that without it the financial power of Man utd would dominate to an extent it already does. When "big" teams like Aston Villa and Spurs can make real progress to challenge the existing cartel of CL teams, they get stopped and thrown back because the cartel move in and buy their best players. When the financial differences weren't that bgi between teams that didn't use to happen as much but now it's a yearly thing!

    >>All that said, I'm not here to argue that the Premier League is better than La >>Liga. They are very different beasts. The technique and skill on offer in La Liga is >>substantially better than that of the Premier League, but in other respects our >>league is preferable.

    I'm not trying to argue either is better because it's all subjective. Personally I prefer the Championship just because I think it's more positive and open but it does help if the team you support plays in the league. In terms of value for money the Bundesliga is well ahead of any other league though with all games shown live in tv and massive attendances that are higher than either La liga or the EPL. What irritates me is people saying things about La Liga when they don't watch it and instead quote the Sky marketing term "most exciting league" like chanting idiots.

  • Comment number 86.

    *Beard07*

    So Liverpool spend vast amounts on the likes of Carroll and Downing because "Thats the market" yet Chelsea and Man City are "Ruining football"(?) by doing exactly the same thing?

    I doubt many Liverpool fans complained when Torres banked them £50m and financed moves for players like Suarez!!

    Typical hypocrisy from Liverpool fans, as usual.

  • Comment number 87.

    Durtbag

    Re: New Spanish collective deal in 2014.

    Correct - it means that instead of sharing 50% of the total TV revenues, they will share 34%. This still places them in the same exclusive bracket and allows them 3 more years to make the gap unbridgeable. The next best will get ~10%.

  • Comment number 88.

    87@ yes unfortunately. But i guess its better than before and atleast they're moving in the right direction :)

  • Comment number 89.

    @86

    "So Liverpool spend vast amounts on the likes of Carroll and Downing because "Thats the market" yet Chelsea and Man City are "Ruining football"(?) by doing exactly the same thing? "

    The market is that way because of teams like Chelsea and Manchester City.

    Thats not a complaint by the way, I couldn't personally care less if you have the money spend it, if it adds to the competition then great, and if it were not for Chelsea spending what they spent (spend) and now Manchester City we would no doubt of had a league dominated by Arsenal and Manchester united for the past 15 years (give or take)

    But the inflated prices are caused by the teams who dont have to budget.

  • Comment number 90.

    1982Blue

    Your argument only works for teams with something to sell. If you don't have something to sell then the inflated fees and wages created by benefactor owners makes the market inaccessible. Eventually, once you have sold all your assets then the only people able to live with the new fees and wages are those that created the new market dynamics. This results in a widening of the gape between the top clubs and the rest and the long term demise in attractiveness of the league.

    There will always be examples you can quote that show that others benefit but your own argument is counter intuitive. Torres was sold for £50m - that was the only way they could afford to buy Carrol for £35m. So... if they didn't have Torres... which they now don't, how do you buy anyone of similar stature in the future?

    There is a finite amount of money available to most clubs and when they reach that limit they have to stop or go bust. For those with endless piles of cash, all they need to do is find where that point is and spend just above it, guaranteeing the best for them. This is no longer a competition and at that point the benefactors will lose interest because there is no product any longer. City, PSG, Malaga, Anzhi and Chelsea need to be saved from themselves.

  • Comment number 91.

    *goalie*

    Football has always worked on the basis that the bigger, richer sides pluck the best talent from the rest of us.

    This isn't an anti Liverpool rant BUT they were funded by pool's money for much of the 70's and 80's and United have always been up there with the biggest spenders, even if it wasn't much of a success in the past.

    What happened with Liverpool and Torres signing for Chelsea, is surely the same as them paying over the odds for Carroll when he signed from Newcastle, No?

  • Comment number 92.

    @82. Think you summed it up very well. The big question is to what extent will UEFA/FIFA get involved in creating a truly level playing field. They don't like rich benefactors creating unfair advantages and are taking rather unclear measures in that area, but what about other issues such as different TV rights negotiation rules operating in Europe? That should be standardised. And what about the whole question of the CL? Isn't the huge amount of money being given to a few teams actually creating a financial elite, the very thing they are trying to avoid?

  • Comment number 93.

    The last time Barcelona played 2 of the top EPL sides (ManU and Arsenal), the COMBINED effort of these two English giants was 1 (ONE) shot on goal, and not even a single corner! Surely, time to stop complaining about Barcelona and try to get some quality into the EPL. The EPL is about the dullest and league in terms of skill among the top European leagues. The German and French leagues are much more entertaining.

  • Comment number 94.

    #85 RoyaltyinTheChampionship
    Some very well thought through arguments and interesting points! Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post.

  • Comment number 95.

    Barcelona are clearly a better team than real madrid but in order for madrid to have any chance of defeating barcelona they try niggling tactics with constant fouling and try to get inside the heads of the barcelona players and the referee. I think that both will get to at least the semi finals of the champions league and i back barca to win everything which they enter into this season with real coming second once again.

  • Comment number 96.

    can't wait for a brit team to go up against barca once again and either get played of the park and well beaten like utd, or use some sam allerdyce style tactics style and hoof it 40 yards to a CF.

    The PL is a 2 or 3 team league, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool just make up the numbers, and we all know it.

  • Comment number 97.

    nice photo, and that is how it shall remain.

  • Comment number 98.

    5 david rolls

    im sure if say valencia and atletico madrid had a couple billionare's buy there club im sure it would quickly become more of a challenge, just like the prem. you think it's due to hard work the prem becoming more competitive? me thinks not

  • Comment number 99.

    What it will take is a much fairer TV deal for La Liga to level the playing field.

    The 2014 one is a step in the right direction, but more should be done in this regard. It's completely unfair and I'm still at a loss as to why its taken so long to negotiate a collective deal.

    More competition in La Liga = higher TV audiences = larger TV deal = more money for every club (except the top 2).

    Also, a reminder that Arsenal actually beat Barca in the first leg last season, so it's not impossible for anyone else but Real Madrid...

  • Comment number 100.

    1982Blue

    The difference is that even though these teams had more money at certain times, they never had "endless" money. So these team could buy a Roy Keane (UK record purchase at £3.75m in 1993) or 2 but could not afford to buy a team full of Roy Keanes. There was scope in the for anyone to buy and sell. They had a finite amount of money - this meant gradual player fee and wage inflation. What we have seen in recent years is spiraling fee and wage inflation. Like inflation in other parts of the economy this is not sustainable as the income cannot match the costs. This has 3 possible consequences - 1, every club is owned by a rich benefactor, 2, the system becomes unsustainable and collapses, 3, a minority of clubs own all the good players. 1 is not going to happen, 2 is catastrophic and 3 will mean the demise in interest in the game over time and the eventual result that 3 turns into 2 as the benefactors lose interest.

    There is a big difference between earned success (and wealth) with gradual inflation and bought success which creates huge unsustainable inflation.

 

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