UEFA Champions League, Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, March 2012, Real Madrid-APOEL, first leg, quarter finals, 3-1
By Ruairi Daly
Despite the national team woes, there is no doubt Spanish clubs have a firm grip on proceedings after another year of total domination in European club football. Real Madrid beat city rivals Atlético Madrid to lift their eleventh European Cup, while Sevilla collected their third consecutive Europa League trophy after beating Liverpool. Despite the Premier League’s best efforts to buy their way back to the pinnacle of club football, they continue to fall short of the mark.
English football went through an anomaly, as Leicester City won the league by a staggering 10 points having barely avoided relegation the previous season. Chelsea won the league title in 2014/15, but could only finish 10th with 50 points last season, in what proved to be the strangest of season’s. Both Manchester clubs combined spent over £250 million, but only managed to finish fourth and fifth place.
In La Liga, nothing has changed. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid continue to dominate and battled it out for the league as the rest fought over the scraps. Similar to the 2014/15 season, three points separated the top three sides, and it was Barcelona that eventually came out on top.
A combination of good scouting, some of the best technical coaching and cashing in on the hottest prospects, has helped other teams get amongst the long-standing Real-Barcelona domination, most notably in Europe.
The latest team to do so is Villarreal, as they sold Eric Bailly to Manchester United for €40 million, having made 47 appearances in a year-and-a-half at the club. At 22 years of age, he is far from the finished product, but the lunacy of English football means Villarreal can now reinvest in their squad across several positions, as they prepare for the Champions League play-offs in August.
Seven of the last 32 teams left in European club competition last season were Spanish, and they have also won 11 consecutive European and World club trophies, which will soon be 12 when Sevilla and Real Madrid meet in the UEFA Super Cup on 9 August. Domination on this scale hasn’t been seen since the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when English clubs lifted the European Cup six consecutive times, but this time it is different.
Spain’s club dominance, along with its national team dominance from 2008 until 2012, highlights a remarkable era of Spanish supremacy in football. Three consecutive major honours for the national side was broken by a humbling exit in the group stages of the 2014 World Cup.
While the international dominance is seemingly coming to an end, Spain will continue to remain atop the club football pyramid for the foreseeable future if clubs continue to follow their current model.
Featured image by Ruben Vique, CC BY 2.0 Generic. Note that in the end it was Chelsea who won the tournament.
FC Barcelona, Camp Nou, by Mario Sánchez Prada, CCF BY 2.0 Generic
Celebration of Spain’s win, in Madrid, by Perronaider, CC BY SA 2.0
Born in Newry, Ireland, Ruairi Daly is doing Sports Journalism at Staffordshire University in England. He is a freelance journalist who hopes to go full time once he’s finished university. Ruairi runs his own website called ReadCeltic which focuses on news and matches related to the Scottish based football club. He loves to travel and get to know the many cultures around the world. He’s having the time of his life immersed in the Spanish culture while he works with Guidepost.
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