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I am one of those who think that La Liga is not the best domestic championship of the old continent, but their titles in UEFA competitions argue in favor of it
The first time I saw a soccer match in my life was at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico when I was 8 years old and, since then, 33 have gone by. I've seen many games from all the federations, of every category and both clubs and national teams. However, that does not mean I will be right in all my predictions. Making a balance —especially since the year 2000 until nowadays— of why Spanish clubs dominate European competitions, I still do not get an answer that satisfies me, although I did form my own criteria about it.
Leer en español: 2019: un descanso al dominio español en Europa. ¿Volverán en 2020?
For me, the Spanish League is not the best, because it is a tournament traditionally of two teams, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Although in recent years it became more interesting with the remarkable growth of Atletico de Madrid, it is not enough the 'Colchoneros' effort, as well as other good teams that always compete well. This is the case of Sevilla, Valencia or some other that surprises every year. In addition, it took a long time to implement the VAR and its referees are among the most criticized of the Top 5 European leagues. There is no parity or justice.
For me, as a league, the best one is England's Premier League, because it is precisely a little closer to the last two words I used to refer to what Spain lacks: parity and justice. But that will be the subject of another article. Let's go to the point that concerns us.
What are the numbers?
This year, for the first time since 2014, the Champions League will not be in the hands of Spain after Barcelona's massive defeat in the second leg of the semi-final against Liverpool, beaten 0-4 at Anfield. Even so, the truth is that Spanish superiority has increased more in the last five years, in which Spain won 9 out of 10 crowns of the Champions League and Europa League. Real Madrid has conquered the championship in four of the last five occasions (2014,16,17 and 18) and the only time it did not do so was because it was won by FC Barcelona (2015). Regarding the Europa League, with the exception of the one won by Manchester United in 2017, the three previous editions were held by Sevilla FC (2014, 15 and 16) and Atlético de Madrid (2018).
At the time of writing this article, Valencia was the only Spanish survivor in Europe and was forced to overcome a 1-3 against England's Arsenal. When it is published, only two things can have happened: either it was eliminated without representatives, or Valencia is still in the final of the Europa League. If we add the third title given by UEFA, Europe's Super Cup, it turns out that, in eleven of the last twelve editions, the champion has been Spanish.
Since 2006, Spain has been awarded 8 of the 13 Championships played, and since 2000 there are 10 editions won (6 Real and 4 Barcelona) by La Liga, more than half of the competitions. Likewise, in the UEL they have obtained five of the last eight and eight of the last fourteen. If we update to 2019, in the UEL case, there will be 8 of the last 14 and 10 of the last 20, half of them. Of course, historically, Spain had not fared so well in the Europa League, formerly the UEFA Cup. It has only won 10 out of 46, including Sevilla's five cups. In the case of the UCL, Real Madrid is the highest winner with 13 out of the 18 that Spain possesses after 67 disputed editions.
The reasons for their superiority
The first thing we must say is that the superiority of Spanish clubs in Europe is not something new. It is rather a trend that is sustained over time; remember that Real Madrid won the first 6 editions of this event in the fifties and early sixties.
In the year 2000, already under the current format of Champions League, Real Madrid and Valencia, two Spanish clubs, played the first final between teams from the same country under this new name. From then on, Italy played one (Milan vs. Juventus in 2003), England one (Manchester United vs. Chelsea in 2008), and Germany one (Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund in 2013). The other two were Spanish (Real Madrid vs Atlético de Madrid in 2014 and 2016). In total three Spanish finals.
Before moving on to the figures that reflect the overwhelming dominance of Spain, I now tell you what the reasons are for me. From my perspective, it is precisely this historical superiority and Real Madrid's historical fame that gives Spanish clubs more trade to play in Europe, more confidence and even greater authority before referees.
I am not saying that there is always blatant help in its favor, but that the teams of other countries, mainly in the decisive phases, must do so with a categorical superiority to eliminate a Spaniard. As Liverpool did a few days ago, for example, because in even matches that are decided by small details, the Iberian representatives have shown not only to make the key moves better but to influence, even inadvertently, referees' decisions.
These successes have shaped the personality of the Spanish teams for whom the Champions League and the Europa League are usually more relevant than the domestic championship, unlike the British or the Germans. There is a demand almost converted into religion: the Spaniards must win a European club championship. I am sure that in other countries these objectives are not reached, although that does not mean that they do not want to win. That perspective already gives the Spaniards a slight advantage. It is a cultural aspect that also affects. That's the way we see it.
LatinAmerican Post | Onofre Zambrano
Translated from "2019: un descanso al dominio español en Europa. ¿Volverán en 2020?"