Debate about which major league is better, the Spanish or the English, is not new. Rarely, if ever, is there a conclusive answer. We can try to find an answer with an unorthodox method. We can try to measure the respective merits of each league by how its major and most influential participants are performing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. A selection of the major and most influential participants is vulnerable to criticism and scrutiny. Form, injury, confidence and prestige count for just as much as actual technical talent. We can only fathom a guess at who best represents each league and hope it is an adequate representation. In this four part series we will study 4 participants from each league and decide which league is faring better. Not for complexity, but for accuracy and a level of empirical objectivity, no more than one player will be chosen from each country in each league. Today we will study La Liga, tomorrow the English Premiership. Towards the end of the tournament we will compare the merits of each again and reach a conclusion.
The main names, and best players, in La Liga are Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Lionel Messi and Xavi.
Cristiano Ronaldo – He has scored one goal but Cristiano Ronaldo is a little off the mark. He has not performed at his best but has looked sharp for brief spells and with a little more fortune, he has hit the woodwork from long range twice, might already be in line for the tournaments Golden Boot. He has not been Portugal’s best player, Raul Meireles has, but the litmus test for Ronaldo will be in the knock out stages when everything is on the line and his country is looking to him to be the hero. 6/10
Kaka – Sent off in his second appearance at this World Cup finals and facing a two match suspension, this tournament has not begun well for Brazil’s superstar. The decision was not justified by television replays and Kaka appears hard done by but the scene is set for Kaka to make a welcome grand return in the knock out stages. He was starting to find form against Ivory Coast, after a long time struggling. His passing was in range and his dribbling was effective. The sending off might ruin his tournament. 4/10
Lionel Messi – A hat-trick of good performances, Lionel Messi has probably been the best individual player at the tournament so far. This is hardly surprising. What is surprising is that Messi has yet to find the back of the net. In good form, saluted by his manager Diego Maradona, and shaking off the rumours that he was entering the tournament jaded and un-fit, Lionel Messi looks set to take the next stage by storm. 8/10
Xavi – The principle Spanish playmaker has hardly set a foot wrong during the opening two matches. Although not quite at the level of 2009, Xavi is nevertheless a phenomenal midfielder who is second to nobody in his position. Xavi, typically, has opted against shooting when presented with odd opportunities. This disinclination worked against Spain when they played Switzerland but has served them well for a large part of the past 3 years. Xavi, the fulcrum of the beautiful Spanish side, might be in line for an individual award if Spain win the tournament, should he maintain his passing accuracy. 7/10
La Liga total– 25/40