Will Tidey - Is Sepp Blatter right about the Premier League?
Published: 13 Jan 2011 - 06:49:51
Sepp Blatter never misses an opportunity to rile the English, so it was hardly surprising when he took another two-footed lunge into our game yesterday.
"The Premier League is the best marketed league in the world," he told CNN. "It's a good league, with good players, but when you consider not one player made the best XI of the world, maybe they should think about whether something can be adapted."
Blatter was referring to the FIFA 2010 World XI, which was selected by 50,000 players, managers and football writers and included not one representative from England's top flight. It was, very much in keeping with everything since the summer of tici taci, a veritable Spanish love-in.
Here it is if you need reminding: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Maicon (Inter Milan), Lucio (Inter Milan), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan), Xavi (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), David Villa (Barcelona)
With eight Spanish-based players on the list Blatter said it served to prove La Liga was the best the world. He pointed to their World Cup success, achieved with a first-choice starting XI of Spanish-based players, and the fact that La Liga has the most homegrown players in it.
Lauding the Spanish is the fashionable and right thing to do, and you can't deny their World Cup win was built on technical brilliance and supremely talent players, or that Barcelona are an all-singing, all-dancing ode to the beautiful game. But does that really mean La Liga is better than the Premier League?
Of course not. It simply means Spain had a crop of superb players who came together at precisely the right time and Barcelona have both brought wisely, and been managed brilliantly by Pep Guardiola. How does that represent a league-wide view of things?
In any other season the Premier League would have provided two or three players, perhaps more, to the World XI. Didier Drogba was brilliant in the 2009-10 season, as was Wayne Rooney. Chelsea scored a record 103 goals in the Premier League season, with Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda pulling the strings in midfield.
Is Blatter forgetting there were six Premier League players in the World XI this time 12 months ago - being John Terry, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Cristiano Ronaldo. I don't remember him saying La Liga needed to take a long, hard look at itself on the back of that selection, do you?
English football is easy to knock these days. Our national side were appalling at the World Cup and the home of football failed emphatically to bring football home for 2018. But the Premier League, for all its hype, remains the best league in the world.
Spain had a spectacularly good year, there's no denying that, but La Liga does not have the quality in depth of the Premier League or a marked recent dominance in the Champions League to suggest their best teams are better than ours.
The last five Champions League finals have been blessed by two Spanish teams and five English teams. This time round we've got four in the last 16, Spain has three. Is that really cause for concern?
I would suggest not, but to be honest nothing Blatter says should surprise any of us.
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Will Tidey
- Will Tidey writes on sport for CNN, Eurosport-Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, amongst others. His first book, 'Life with Sir Alex', an account of Sir Alex Ferguson's 25-year reign at Manchester United, is set for release in October this year. Pre-order it now at http://tinyurl.com/6xzl62b. And follow Will on Twitter here - www.twitter.com/willtidey
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