By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer
Though I do appreciate the football that Barcelona (and to a lesser extent, Real Madrid) play, I generally find La Liga incredibly boring – at this point in the season, there is a 29-point gap between second place and third place, and a team other than the big two has finished first or second only once since 2004. The last time another team won the league (Valencia) was in the 2003-04 season. This year will be the third consecutive season with at least a 20-point gap between them and the third-placed team, and likely one of the two teams will also win the Champions League. This is probably due to the fact that they take half of the TV revenue for La Liga between them, while the other 18 teams split the difference.
With this in mind, and because I’m weirdly interested in this kind of stuff, I figured out the La Liga table if Barcelona and Real Madrid didn’t exist at all (though obviously ignoring the question of where players like Xavi, Iker Casillas, et al…would play if the two teams weren’t there). And the result? Well, actually, the league wouldn’t be markedly different – but it would certainly be more competitive. I’m not going to bore you with a rundown of each team’s record against other clubs and so on, but Valencia would finish first, and Malaga (currently fourth) would finish second. The biggest benefactors of the exclusion of the two heavyweights are Atletico Madrid (who moves up to third with a +16 goal differential) and Osasuna (mostly due to their 8-0 loss to Barcelona earlier in the year). Interestingly, the team that suffers the most is Villareal, who drop into the relegation zone thanks to two draws at home against Barcelona and Real Madrid (though they did get spanked in their away matches).
So what does this tell us? Well, maybe the power base of Spanish football isn’t dramatically altered among the other 18 teams, but La Liga would be a vastly more interesting league if these two teams, say, shared an equal amount of revenue with the others. Next up: How about the Premier League without the Big 4 and Manchester City? DUN-DUN-DUN!