It’s a common misconception around Europe that the French league only offers to serve bigger and more powerful clubs. While that is true, the overall quality of all tiers of the French football pyramid are improving, and it is a joy to behold.
Football snobbery is rife in Britain, some would even argue that the Championship is better than La Liga. These people have usually never watched a game held on the continent and wouldn’t know what real football is. It is blindly obvious that Ligue 1 isn’t the best in the world but it is however, right up there alongside the Bundesliga and La Liga. It is fast-paced, exhilarating and offers something that all leagues need, a competitive edge.
It was only last season that Montpellier, a team who had only recently been promoted, won the league mainly because of their renowned youth-system. Even PSG with all of the millions they had spent couldn’t compete with players that had a hunger and desire to do well. That just doesn’t happen in England. Comparisons with the 11/12 season title-winning Montpellier team and Barcelona are easy to make but they are correct. Two clubs who rely mainly on their famed youth-systems have had remarkable success. No club in the Premier League can say they had that success using academies. It improves the overall quality of the league along with the team.
While the goals-per-game ratios are often less than its European counterparts, it doesn’t take away from the league. Yes, teams are defensive but they produce players of such quality that not many goals are scored. I personally prefer teams with a solid defence rather than an open, free-flowing team that concedes two or even three goals a game.
Even this season PSG have spent huge amounts of money but they are still being chased right to the wire by Marseille and Lyon, two teams who in the past have had to sell their best players can still be competitive in this league. The obvious argument to this is that French teams just aren’t competitive in Europe. Again, this is true but neither are Premier League teams. Ligue 1 has a representative in the Champions League quarter-finals whereas the Premier League does not.
The power is shifting from the once great Premier League; in terms of quality and entertainment it is accepted that it is declining. The only other league that is currently in decline is Serie A. The rapid rise of La Liga, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 are incredible. The most incredible rise is that of Ligue 1. After going through a lull last decade in which it became boring and repetitive with Lyon, running away with it season in, season out it has came back bigger and better. There are now only two teams that have never been relegated and the football is gripping.
Arguably, the most important factor is that teams live within their means. Only one team can blow all others out of the water with billions and that is PSG. It is a league built on reputation as opposed to wages. Give a player a choice of £15k P/W at Nancy or £8k P/W at Nice, and more often than not the player will choose Nice.
Football is a subjective sport, and these are just my opinions of course. But, if I had to rank my top five leagues I would go with:
1. La Liga
2. Ligue 1
4. Premier League
5. Serie A
I would like to know your opinions on which leagues are the best and worst and why?