While settling down to watch Man City v Everton on SKY last night the conversation between messers Keys and Gray turned towards the Champions League draw between Arsenal and Barcelona.
An intriguing tie you’ll no doubt admit but where the conversation turned after was quite shocking.
While making a fair point at his disappointment at Sneijder not being nominated for the Balon D’or Gray then went on to say that he doubts whether Messi, Xavi and Iniesta could ‘cut it’ on a cold Tuesday night at Stoke. Really? Are you being serious or have you totally lost the plot Mr Gray.
I respect Andy Gray and his opinion. I try to respect everyones opinion but Andy Gray crossed the line last night and went from a valid argument to stupidity.
The age old debate of which league is the greatest will rumble on and on it’s impossible to get a definate answer. I’m firmly in the La Liga camp because I prefer that style of football and as most people reading this will be firm EPL watchers I feel it’s my duty to educate a few people in why La Liga is a great league.
Referring back to Andy Grays now infamous comments of Monday night he started by doubting whether Ronaldo and Messi could score the amount of goals in the EPL that they have in La Liga.
It was only two years ago that Ronaldo hit 42 goals in 49 appearances in what was, in my opinion the EPL’s best season as Man Utd and Chelsea hit the UCL final. A couple of years later and Ronaldo is emulating these stats again with Real Madrid. Is this proof that La Liga is ‘weaker’ no.
We could turn this argument back at the EPL with regard to Fernando Torres who in less than half the number of games is already just 19 goals away from hitting his goal tally for Atleti. Does this make La Liga tougher than the EPL? No, it just means different players perform better in different leagues.
Mr Gray duly noted that Messi doesn’t play well against English teams and therefore would find scoring more difficult in the EPL. Really? Did he not systematically tear apart the Arsenal backline last season at the Camp Nou? Or weave his magic against a hopeless Man Utd team in the 2009 UCL final where Andy Gray started the build up by saying Barcelona will find it difficult to keep up with Utd. Oh how we can laugh at that ill advised statement now as Barca dominated for 80 minutes.
The subject of the strength in depth within the leagues also came up. While La Liga does have an SPL style top two problem we could argue the same with EPL with Man Utd and Chelsea occupying the top two spots for the last few seasons.
The problem Spain has is Barcelona have had a freak crop of exceedingly good youth players and the only way Real Madrid can compete is to buy the best. This is not to say the rest of the league is ‘crap’.
Over the last 5 seasons Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia have won the UEFA Cup/Europa League with Atleti even winning the Super Cup. All the above have also regularly progressed to the later rounds of the Champions League with Villareal (one of Spain’s smallest clubs) even making the Semi-Final.
In comparison if we ignore EPL’s big four only Fulham and Middlesbrough have had runner up medals in the UEFA Cup/Europa League.
Yes Spanish football does have it’s problems but so does the EPL. For Andy Gray to basically say La Liga isn’t a patch on the EPL was very disrespectful to all the facts on the table.
I’m a La Liga man myself perhaps you may prefer the EPL? But whatever you do don’t comment on the other league in such disrespectful fashion they’re both great products and we should all be glad to have them.
By Craig Shields