With Champions League football bringing together the best teams from all over Europe, the quest for considering which league is considered the best in the World, is a tough one. The champions, and at this moment in time, the best team in Europe are Barcelona, with their free flowing attractive football that melts any neutral watcher’s heart. However should this short and agile Barcelona team play against the likes of Stoke or Bolton each week, could we see a different pattern of results? In order to discover the best league in the world, the criteria for what constitutes true, all round quality must be concluded upon. Do viewers seek a league that has battles for the top 2, leaving all other results meaningless? Or do we want a top 6 battle, where teams are constantly looking over their shoulder in fear that they might be caught.
The French and German league are first for consideration, yet have contrasting and interesting styles to one and other. The French league is known more for its attacking, with Eden Hazard, Mathieu Valbuena and now Joe Cole drifting seamlessly around the pitch as influential playmakers, the games remain exciting, with attacking football, pace and a still prominent desire to win. However it seems other leagues have advanced onwards, leaving Marseille, Lyon and Lille, the heavyweights of French Football, struggling to keep up as forces within the game. The fact Lyon and Marseille are performing so poorly within the league suggests either that the league standard is incredibly high, with Lyon and Marseille falling below this high standard, or the standard is as it was, with Marseille and Lyon performing poorly at the start of this season, unable to pick up form against poor quality opposition.
My money is on the latter, and if Joe Cole can go over and make fools of his opposing defenders when he failed to keep up with the quality of the Premier League, the French ‘Ligue 1’ remains 5th on my estimations. The German ‘Bundesliga’ out ranks this, with bullying, strong and powerful teams forming a majority of the league. Bayern Munich and Dortmund form the heavyweights of the league, with Schalke, Leverkusen and Wolfsburg making things interesting. The style of Munich in particular is attractive, and able to show off some of the best players in the world with the likes of Robben, Ribery and Lahm to name a few, and the Champion’s League final appearance a few years ago was no fluke.
Unfortunately, although a competitive and enthralling league, the other teams fail to boast such prime assets, as the likes of failed Liverpool defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos and disappointing former Manchester United and Arsenal Defender Mikael Silvestre playing first team football in the league each week. However despite this, the German League boasted the highest average attendance each week in the 10-11 season, suggesting the importance of football in Germany may outdo that of surrounding European countries. However due to attractiveness and overall quality of football within the league, the Bundesliga takes 4th position.
A distant 3rd is the Italian league, once a pillar of our footballing interest, now is left stranded due to convicted match fixing and an unappreciated arrogance within their game. Don’t get me wrong, a league that can produce the likes of Alexandre Pato, Mario Balotelli and Francesco Totti deserves credit, however the style of football remains unappealing to many in other areas of Europe. The general attacking play can amaze fans from all over the world, and with Napoli fielding 3 centre backs against a strong Manchester City side, arrogance could be misconstrued for a fearless and brave attitude, as no team would dare field 3 centre backs in the Premier League week in week out.
The fans, although often portrayed as crazed, the average attendances stand at approx. 24,000 (2010-11) which ranks 4th, however if hearing the game in Napoli on Tuesday, they make up for it with the unity of their chanting. With Milan pushing Barcelona close on Wednesday, and with Ibrahimovic, Forlan and Sneijder to name a few playing in the league, it appears that class is still very apparent.