Sunday, May 29, 2005

Relegation Scraps

As Q has already detailed in an earlier post, the final day of the English premiership was enthralling.. at the wrong end of the table, that is. Well, today was the day of reckoning for all those hopeful of staying in Spain and Italy's premier divisons. In Italy, on the final day of the season, a ridiculous amount of teams (six!) were in contention for the remaining two relegation spots, with the only certainity for the drop being bottom of the table Atalanta. In Spain it was a more straightforward affair between Levante and Real Mallorca, with Numancia and Albacete having secured their participation in next season's Segunda Liga a few rounds earlier.

With the dust settling at around 10pm UK time, the following had resulted: Levante are trounced 4-1 by Villareal and Mallorca escape after a 1-1 draw with Champions League hopefuls Betis (who bagged the fourth spot on the same day following Seville's loss to Malaga). In Italy, after much calculation, Parma have to playoff against Bologna to decide who joins Brescia and Atalanta in Serie B next year.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Each of the three top leagues* (The Premiership, Serie A and La Primera Liga) has a different method of deciding a tie on points in crucial areas of the table such as relegation and european qualification spots.

The English decide it on goal difference.
The Spaniards decide it on head-to-head record.
The Italians decide it by a playoff.

Each system has its merits, the Premiership puts emphasis on scoring goals (and equally stopping the other teams from scoring) during the course of the season, while La Liga is all about beating your main rivals on aggregate over the two ties. The Italians, I believe, have the most interesting system. Imagine (however unlikely) that the final day of the season ended with Juventus and AC Milan in deadlock, Real Madrid having caught up with Barcelona and Man Utd/Arsenal having chipped away at Chelsea's lead until they were level on points. How would you rather it was decided? I honestly prefer the playoff, another opportunity to see both teams in action with the entire season's worth of effort at stake. It would make for one hell of a game.

Oh, and Diego Forlan is this season's Pichichi (Spanish league top scorer). After Sam Eto'o missed a penalty against Villareal in the penultimate round of the season (the same match Forlan scored a hat-trick), he again hit the crossbar on Barca's final day nil all draw, while Forlan scored twice (once in the 90th minute) to overhaul the Cameroonian's one goal lead and end up with 25 goals compared to 24 for Eto'o. I always knew he had it in him. Good on you, Diego.

* fans of the Bundesliga: I do enjoy the league immensely. I find it generates quite a bit of drama and contains a lot of quality players, but it just isn't on the same level as the top three leagues. If its any consolation, I think your league is better than Le Championnat and the Dutch Eredivisie.


Blogger forzaq8 said...

i think the germans are missing star
not that they don't have , but they don't have no flashy starts like ZeZu or beckham
for example there are no Brazilian national team players in Germany , thats a big " - " for them

4:13 PM  
Blogger Mo said...

I do beg to differ.

One of the best midfielders in the world plies his trade in Germany and his name is Michael Ballack. Definitely a superstar in the class of Zidane and co.

Bayern Munich have two key Brazilian internationals in winger Ze Roberto and central defender Lucio.

Other great players? Oliver Kahn, Ailton, Tomasz Rosicky and Roy Makaay to name but very, very few.

No, the Bundesliga definitely has its fair share of good players. I'll agree that it doesn't attract all the household names in the sport, but it does produce good quality football and competitive European teams. Two Ottmar Hitzfield teams won the Champions league, Bayern Munich in 2001 and Borussia Dortmund in their hey-day back in 1997 beating none other than the mighty Juventus.

5:36 PM  
Blogger forzaq8 said...

household name :P i should have used that word not stars :)

yeah the german are great players , no one can deny that

12:56 PM  
Blogger Q said...

Hello ppl,

Im sorry I havent been posting anything lately, u can call it CL Final hangover!

First of all, Mo....u trully kick ass! Unfortunately, you started posting when I quit my job, so Im not on my pc that much everyday anymore. So basically what happens is that I read ur posts, and say to myself "this is an excellent post!", but never actually take the time to reply!

Ok, about the relegation battles, I know that the Serie A has the most exciting way to determine the winner in case of an equal points total, but personally I think it takes all the beauty away from a proper 9 month league! The Spanish way is the most ridiculous I think. The English way is the way it should be and the way I obviously prefer!

My reasons are as follows....the league is created for a reason, to prove which is the best team throughout the season in the country.

Winning the league is like winning a marathon! That is the reason they created cup competitions, in which all teams in the country can hope to get lucky and win 5 games (and win the cup).

Goal difference is a real important factor! Lets take the premiership as an example (bcz i know more about it than others), if cheslea and arsenal were equal on points, chelsea would still deserve to win it bcz of their absolutely incredible defensive record! Even though Arsenal scored an impressive 87 goals, a team that allows ONLY 15 goals againt in 38 games definitely deserves the title!! They scored 15 goals less than Arsenal but proved how solid they are defensively and it would really be annoying if they play a deciding game and arsenal win on penalties in a game like the game against ManU in the cup final!

I am a diehard arsenal fan, but it would be a travesty if the league was decided on head to head or deciding game! It would totally not feel deserved!

To win a marathon, you need to be on a high level all the way! not only the last 100 meters!


As for Germany, I agree with forza, what the Bundesliga lacks is players with flair! Ballack is excellent, but he does not sell as many shirts as Beckham, even though he is probably more influential in his team!

2:50 PM  
Blogger Q said...

hahahahhaa, that was long! what a comeback! ;P

2:50 PM  
Blogger Mo said...


Thanks for the compliments man, I'm glad you like my posts.

I agree with you, the English league probably has the fairest system in terms of judging the "marathon" that is the domestic season.. but you can still see the merits on which the other systems are based. The Spanish believe that if you beat your rivals over two games then you're the one who's better even though you might be tied on points. The Italian way I thought was more exciting because more football is never a bad thing! Especially one game that can decide the fate of the title, since both teams got there on merit regardless of how well a defensive or goalscoring record was. It fits in with the Italian Catenaccio mentality, where a 1-0 win is the most beautiful win of all.

In the end a simpler, more straightforward way of deciding it is goal difference, which is generally the way I agree is the best. Its interesting to see how the football culture in each country is directly responsible for shaping the way they do things, though.

As for the Germans (you knew it was coming!) I don't think the deciding factor should be flair players. Although, unfortunately, leagues are currently judged by the number of superstars that play in them.. that should never be the case for the diehard fans of the games. The Premiership was seriously lacking in superstar names in the early 90s, with all the big names playing in the Serie A at the time. That didn't change the fact that I found it to be the most interesting league to watch. The wage structures existing in the English clubs prevented big name, big money signings. That's until Abramovich's Chelsea came along and shattered that whole concept, forcing the other clubs to up their spending in order to compete. 100,000 quid a week players in England are a very recent phenomenon, while they used to exist for much longer in the other big leagues. The fact that the Germans (bar Bayern Munchen) can't compete on that front may mean that they attract less big name players, but it also means that their (spectacular to watch) league is forgotten by most fans. 4 of the last 5 league seasons in Germany were decided on the very last day of the season (at both ends of the table), and they have consistently had a higher goals scored per game ratio than England, Spain and Italy.

Anyway, I'm not saying that their league is the best by any stretch of the imagination. I'm simply saying that you shouldn't judge a league by the amount of stars it pulls in. Big names are lured by money these days more than the quality of football on hand. How else could you explain senior players moving to Qatar (instead of the MLS or the J-league) at the end of their careers?

3:10 AM  
Blogger Q said...

Mo, u said it best about how the premiership didnt have high profile stars in the early 90s, but was still exciting. Unfortunately, excitement doesnt quite cut it anymore.

By the end of the 90s, with the golden era of ManU, this attracted more foreign players to the league, and the English did the best job of creating the right publicity to their league since then! Almost all stadiums are full capacity for any game, the tv coverage everywhere promoting it as the best league in the world actually works! ManU winning the treble, and the French winning the World Cup while at Arsenal only made it more appealing! Abrahimovic added even more high profile publicity which made it more popular and exciting!

The Germans absolutely suck at promoting their league, which prevents high profile players to join a low profile league, and therefore less fans watch it!

5:11 AM  
Blogger Mo said...

Ahh, the beautiful game being soiled by dirty money.

As much as I hate to admit it, advertising really works. The German league just isn't marketed as aggressively as the other leagues, so less people have access to live games and its events don't dominate the news. Its also harder to sell a product that's lagging in terms of star power, and since the product isn't being sold at high enough of a price to be able to pay for attracting those stars.. it becomes a vicious circle almost.

I'd just like to say to all of you people out there reading this, give the Bundesliga a chance. Football is more than just big names. Try to tune in every once in a while.. if you're looking for quality entertainment then you won't regret it, I promise.

Those Germans better pay my ass for doing their advertising.

5:23 AM  

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