How Lions and Spain com­pare

Stage set for in­ter­na­tional friendly

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports International -

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

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