Luis Enrique believes Celta Vigo’s stunning win over his Barcelona side is evidence that La Liga is a lot stronger than many pundits believe.
The Premier League is widely regarded as the best league in European football, due in no small part to the ability of teams near the bottom of the division to cause upsets over the more established sides. This has been demonstrated on a number of occasions and even in the fledgling current campaign, where Chelsea’s struggles as champions is proof of the stiff competition.
In Spain, though, it is considered a shock if either of the two heavyweights – Barcelona or Real Madrid – are not crowned champions at the end each season. For example, when Atletico Madrid won the title in 2013/14, it was their tenth success but first in 18 years, and it was the first time since 2003/04 that either of the two La Liga giants hadn’t finished top of the pile.
Indeed, aside from the two Madrid clubs and the Camp Nou outfit, only six other sides have won the title since the formation of the league in 1929: Athletic Bilbao, Valencia, Real Sociedad, Deportivo La Coruna, Sevilla, and Real Betis. Compare this to England, where 23 clubs have won the league since 1888, or Italy’s Serie A where 16 have been successful since 1898.
However, Enrique believes it is wrong to claim there is a lack of competition in Spain, and he thinks this is proven by Celta’s stunning 4-1 win on Wednesday which ended his side’s perfect start to the campaign. This defeat, remember, came against a side which finished seven places and 43 points behind his champions last season – closer to relegation that the summit.
“This game goes to show just how difficult La Liga is,” said the 45-year-old former midfielder. “What decided this game is how well Celta played. It was highly effective football from them. When a team has played better than you, then there is nothing much that you can say. I’d rather lose to a team that plays like Celta did today, without any tricks, purely winning through their football.”
This loss has seen Barca slip to fifth in the current standings, in what has undoubtedly been a competitive opening to the new season. After five matches Real, Celta and Villarreal are all tied on 13 points, whilst Atletico and Barca are just a point behind. If it remains this tight at the business end of the campaign, then Enrique’s argument will certainly have substance.
Watch Celta’s stunning victory below: