How Lions and Spain compare
Stage set for international friendly
With England hosting Spain in an international friendly on Tuesday, Reuters compares the state of soccer in the two countries.
Spain has shown determination under La Liga president Javier Tebas to challenge England as the most lucrative league in the world.
As well as forcing clubs to signifcantly reduce their debts, Tebas pushed to change the law and oblige teams to sell their television rights collectively, paving the way for its biggest ever domestic deal in 2015, worth 2.65 billion euros (Sh 292.81bn) over three years.
Spain, however, has a long way to go to catch the English Premier League, which earned a record £5.14bn (Sh659.63bn) from its latest domestic deal.
Spain can legitimately claim to host world soccer’s finest players.
La Liga also hosts the last seven Ballon d’Or winners and 16 of the last 18 finalists, none of which have come from the Premier League.
The last time England’s top flight had a finalist was in 2008, when Ronaldo, then of Manchester United, won the top prize and Fernando Torres, playing for Liverpool, finished third.
With serial winners Pep Guar- diola and Jose Mourinho at the helm of the two Manchester clubs and Antonio Conte revitalising Chelsea since giving up the Italy job, the Premier League has a strong claim to having the best coaches in the world.
The charismatic Jurgen Klopp has led Liverpool to the top of the Premier League, and the achievements of Tottenham Hotspur’s Mauricio Pochettino and Leicester City’s Claudio Ranieri also strengthen this claim.
Spain’s top three sides also have tacticians with impressive CVs, with Zinedine Zidane capturing last season’s Champions League and Barcelona’s Luis Enrique winning it the year before.
Diego Simeone has taken Atletico Madrid to two of the last three finals of Europe’s elite club competition, and Jorge Sampaoli has revolutionised Sevilla’s style of play since taking charge in the close season.
Spain monopolised the European Cup in its early years, with Real Madrid winning the competition five consecutive times from 1956 to 1960.
England had its own period of hegemony, with Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa ensuring the trophy remained on English shores between 1977 and 1982.
England’s Jack Wilshere, Jamie Vardy, Gary Cahill, Joe Hart and Jordan Pickford during training. / REUTERS