Friday, July 13, 2012

The best league in the world is ... ?

Comparing leagues has always been something I've found difficult, and yesterday when the news was being leaked that Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Thiago Silva were being sold by AC Milan to Paris St Germain, some people debated about whether a move to Ligue 1 is a step that any top professional should take because of the standard of the French league.

Is it any better than Serie A? Is the move simply money-motivated? While tons of other questions can be asked, it would be a big mistake to disregard the Ligue 1 as weak. Actually with the exception of the Scottish Premier League, I find it hard to diss most top leagues and particularly to compare them. Every single league has its own characteristics which defines the style of play and standard it has.

The English Premier League might be the quickest and thus makes it the most entertaining league of all; but only 5 different winners in 20 years suggests that it isn't necessarily the most competitive. The Spanish league could be considered the most stylish of all, with players given a lot of time on the ball to showcase the skills they have, while the big 2 are pretty much given walkovers throughout the season. It has become a bit too predictable. The Italian Serie A is often labelled as boring, whereas in truth the games are so tight that the "1-0" results that seem to stereotype that league don't occur because of the supposed "boring football", but rather because of how close the games are in the league. The German Bundesliga, in my opinion at least, has the highest level of play of all. Free flowing Football is commonplace and the unpredictability of it all makes it more interesting...that's of course, without going into the details of the stadium atmosphere and ticket prices which are far superior to most other top European leagues.

And then comes the French Ligue 1, where Zlatan and Silva will normally ply their trade next season. A league where the gap between the top clubs and the bottom clubs was never defined by money or other corrupt values, but simply by what happens on the pitch. With the arrival of PSG's new owners a year ago, that's all about to change. More foreign investors will be encouraged to invest in French clubs once they see that the PSG model is working and successful. Buying a club on the cheap and investing millions while reaping the rewards can only make financial sense. The league itself might be the most open league of all, despite the standard of play not being as high as elsewhere, but nobody can predict what happens on a game by game basis. Could anyone have predicted at the start of last season that Montpellier would be Champions? I strongly doubt it.  That's the beauty of the French league and that's why it shouldn't be disregarded. This is why there is no "best league in the world". Every single league has got different aspects which make them more or less appealing to a different audience (let's not forget the marketing aspects of it all).

So while there are a lot of moans and groans about 2 of Europe's biggest stellar names heading to the French capital, this will not be the first time such a move occurs. PSG will raise the standard of the entire league by using the model that the majority of Europe's top clubs are using and it won't be long before other French clubs follow suit. When that happens, not if, then not only will we be looking at the most open league in Europe, but probably the most appealing one. The French may take their time to do their stuff, but when they do something good, they do it very good. This is only the beginning, not for PSG, but for French Football as a whole. Don't disregard the French Ligue 1 yet...

1 comment:

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