With Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur some way ahead at the top of the table, an almost foregone conclusion of a relegation fight and a lot of mediocrity in between, is the Premier League really the best in Europe?

This title should belong to Spain’s Primera Division, the setting of technical football, shock results and a seven-team relegation scrap.

While Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid are realistically the only teams capable of winning the title, unlike in England, competition is fierce throughout the Primera.

The battle for European football is set to go to the wire: Sevilla currently sit in fourth (the final Champions League spot) with 37 points after 24 games. Getafe and Alavés are hot on their heels with 36 points, as are Sociedad with 34, Betis on 33 and Valencia on 32.

At the bottom a mere six points separates 19th placed Rayo Vallecano (23) and 12th placed Leganés (29), with the clubs in- between switching positions every week. Amongst them are European regulars Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao and Celta Vigo, who have paid the price for complacency.

One fascinating narrative is that of league debutants Huesca, who after one win in 21 found themselves 11 points from safety. But with three wins in 2019 and now a six-point deficit, the historically lower league club has a shot at the great escape.

The wealth gap between clubs, magnified by uneven TV money distribution, makes Alavés and Getafe’s rise to the Europa League places refreshing. Only four teams in the division have smaller wage budgets.

Neither has fluked their way there either; only Atletico and Valencia have conceded fewer goals than Getafe this term, who have 36-year-old journeyman Jorge Molina banging in the goals. Alavés’ explosive start to the campaign saw them win six of their opening ten games, including a 1-0 toppling of Real Madrid.

Tactical innovation has been a theme this year, with Pablo Machin introducing three at the back at Sevilla and Quique Setién attempting to emulate tiki-taka at Betis.

While an inconsistent Real Madrid have suffered shock defeats, their 18-year-old winger Vinicius Junior is an emerging talent destined for Galácticos stardom.

Of course, in Catalonia, Messi continues to prove he isn’t human; he surpassed the 400-goal mark to become La Liga’s all-time record goal scorer, and this campaign has netted 22 times.

So, if you don’t fancy Cardiff vs Watford on a Friday, or if you’re bored during the Saturday 3pm blackout, pay for Eleven Sports and stick La Liga on. You might just enjoy it.


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