womenforfootball.com – Two seasons ago when FC Barcelona was sweeping Championship glories off the pitch before the eyes of all competitors, who could have thought they would be trashed 4-0 by FC Bayern Munich at Semifinal of Champions League games in 2012-2013?
What about Real Madrid, whom with all the sweeping changes at squad level and tactical changes by Jose Mourinho, they had Champions League trophy to hope for? Perhaps to rub it on weakened Barcelona team’s face, in which they had previously managed to beat them in El Classico this season. But Borussia Dortmund proved too strong for them as they were defeated 4-1.
Although Bundesliga teams have emerged as consistent and competent competitors in recent years to reckon with-as shown in previous charts-however one could argue, these two results in particular displayed La Liga teams’ downfall more than Bundesliga teams’ strength.
With the exception of Guardiola’s miraculous 4 seasons in charge at Barcelona, I could name mainly 3 reasons that over the years have led La Liga teams become less competitive compare to Bundesliga:
1. Unequal Distribution of TV Rights: FC Barcelona and Real Madrid possess all TV Rights of major broadcasters every season, hence having main financial advantage over their other counterparts. This move leaves likes of Valencia, Atletico Madrid and other La Liga teams vying for title in financial disadvantage, amongst whom household names such as Valencia are still gripped by club bankruptcy and financial problems. So in a sense, there is no equality or fairness in distribution of TV Rights among La Liga teams.
2. Financial Problems: As you know, Spanish Economy was hit hard by EU recession, so did Spanish clubs. Likes of Malaga could acquire attention of private investors from abroad, while likes of Valencia still struggle with paying their players’ dues. La Liga game attendance is down too. This is in comparison to Bundesliga teams’ financial health, and continued increase in number of match attendance by fans. So when clubs, other than Barcelona and Real Madrid face severe Financial problem, it also reduces their flexibility to rejuvenate their squad or management team, and they end up selling their best performing stars for stack of much-needed cash. Hence, La Liga league more and more became a two-horse race between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
3. Lack of competition in domestic league: Lets face it, La Liga league has long became a two-horse race from the first day of Season kick-off to the last day. Its just the question of whether Real Madrid win the title or Barcelona. Both of these teams have far more budget and revenue to spend on squad changes and management, and no other Spanish team possess tough competition for them either. It is quite odd that as of 2004-2005 and onward, all La Liga titles were shared between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid only. That is in comparison with Bundesliga, in which although FC Bayern used to be a title holder every season, more competition emerged in the last decade and titles were won by 4 different teams as of 2004-2005.
The fact is, although Barcelona’s youth academy is still famed and admired in the world, but strong team management and key squad selection is also the key to the team’s success. True that brilliant Guardiola was promoted as Youth Academy coach to first team coach and proved to be their most successful manager in history, but the same pattern may not hold true for their other Youth Academy coaches and assistants. Vilanova does not seem to have the tactical and squad selection superiority as Guardiola. After all, Xavi,Fabregas and Iniesta’s inconsistencies, and flawed team defense and team’s over reliance on Messi, were evident from first few weeks of the Season.
The bitter truth is, as Real Madrid and Barcelona face their German competitors again this week, there is not much hope in overturning 4-0 or 4-1 scoreline. These two teams became victims of their own advantageous status at La Liga for over a decade and its pay back time. Spanish league Association surely needs to address these inequalities between La Liga teams and find equilibrium for all that will eventually benefit all Spanish teams competing in European level. The same approach Bundesliga Association took few years ago, and it is paying off this season.