The Premier League and La Liga have continued to go toe to toe amid the rise in competition and investment in the two leagues. Although these elements exist, the recent drive has made it an apparent debate.
As a football fan, you could easily differentiate what makes each league different. I know most fans would say La Liga is a three-horse race as compared to the EPL, where no one could predict what might happen.
However, these leagues have similarities and, at the same, have elements which make them different from each other.
We carried out extensive research regarding the difference and have brought you the stats and results below, which make the two competitions different.
Premier League vs La Liga – which one is tougher or the best? The stats will tell you
1. Domestic competition
La Liga has been fought off by the trio of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. The three teams have single-handedly won the Spanish top-flight competition thirteen times from 2009 to date.
Real Madrid alone has thirty-five titles in all-time rankings, followed by Barcelona (26) and Atletico Madrid (11).
Since 2009, different clubs have won, especially Leicester City, who took the world by surprise to lift the 2015–16 title.
Even though the big six (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham) have been up there, there is no guarantee they will lift the title in the end. The Premier League shines in this regard as the most competitive.
2. Performance in Europe
La Liga outshines Premier League clubs when it comes to performing in European football competitions.
In the Champions League from 2009 to date, fourteen editions have been played, with Spanish teams winning seven titles, unlike the EPL with three titles.
Also, Spanish teams tend to perform better in European football competitions, including the UCL, Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup.
3. The gap between teams on the league table
The Premier League is usually a tight race regarding who could emerge winners at the end of every season. Even though Manchester City won six titles in eleven seasons (2012 to 2022) they had to battle it to the end.
Teams like Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea were made to win the league by earning as high as 80 to 100 points.
Although La Liga is competitive, you could predict how it would end with sometimes a point disparity between the two sides at four to six. La Liga teams like Real Madrid have also eclipsed the 100 points tally.
4. Youth incorporation
One area Premier League clubs have excelled even though their heavy investment in the transfer market is their ability to hand out first-team action to young players in competitive games.
According to The Analyst article, Ethan Nwaneri (15-year-old) is the youngest player in Premier League history. He was introduced as a substitute in Arsenal’s 3-0 away win at Brentford in September 2022.
Mason Mount and Phil Foden are two perfect examples of young talents that are regular first-team players at their respective clubs.
La Liga also has a large talent pool and hands for young players. But it is more common in the Premier League, where youth football is a core part of the league’s foundation.
The introduction of young players makes the game competitive as they possess more strength and desire and are athletic compared to established veterans.
5. UEFA Football Coefficient
Real Madrid is a giant when it comes to the UEFA Champions League. The Spanish club have won 14 titles ( six in European Cup and eight in the Champions League), winning five in the last nine editions (2014 to 2022).
Barcelona is the second Spanish team with five titles.
Liverpool is the most successful English team, having won six titles, followed by Manchester United (3), Chelsea (2) and Nottingham Forest (2).
The last ten seasons have been intense competition, leaving the teams from each league to face each other in the final. Regarding coefficient, the two teams continue to go toe to toe.
6. Standard of refereeing and use of technology
Although Premier League games have been marred by poor refereeing decisions when they are not expected to be, the standard in the division is high, and refs are checked and regulated by a refereeing body that sometimes bans, suspends and or imposes sanctions on them.
La Liga has been decent in terms of refereeing decisions. However, many usually watch games involving Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid and thus may not conclude what happens in other games.
The Premier League is the pivot of Video Assistant Referees in Europe’s top five leagues. Here, there’s a team in the studio communicating with refs about actions and sometimes influencing his decisions. Even though poor results have marred the system, it has been outstanding.
La Liga also has a standard Video Assistant Referee team that influences the actions on the field of play. The system in Span has been outstanding, according to a Reuters report.
However, this report proves otherwise and acknowledges the effectiveness of the use of the system to promote Spanish La Liga to the highest level.
7. Football transfers
The English Premier League takes the lead regarding the budget for the transfer market. The surprising aspect of the Premier League is the ability of mid-table teams to spend heavily on players.
Examples of average teams who have spent high sums on players include West Ham United, Wolves, Aston Villa, Everton and Newcastle United.
According to ESPN, Premier League clubs spent heavily in the summer window, breaking the transfer spending record to a new high at £1.9 billion ($2.2 billion). Unlike La Liga, which spent only more than €505.69 million.
But as these transfers yielded success for the clubs? In some areas, yes and no. Clubs like Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool have benefited immensely.
Transfers lead to competition as new players come with new ideas and styles of play. The signing of players from across Europe and North America has made the Premier League a centre for entertaining football, which makes the league the most watched as almost every nationality is represented.
The more challenging it gets, the better it becomes. This is the position of the Premier League over every other league in Europe’s top five rankings.
Teams across the division are competitive, making it enjoyable for fans to be patient enough to sit in front of their TVs and streaming devices to watch AFC Bournemouth take on Fulham.
With the highs and lows, the La Liga market surrounds the three giants (Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid) and sometimes Sevilla, Real Betis, Valencia and Villarreal.
The heavy concentration on the top three teams makes it uninteresting to watch the small teams in the league, thereby reducing the level of competition and entertainment that drives the game.
Who else has spent millions on club infrastructures like stadiums, technology and innovation, on the pitch and sports data science? The Premier League has been a step forward in this area.
Most recently, Tottenham Hotspur spent £1 billion on its stadium, which includes provision for NFL games.
La Liga clubs are not left out either. Real Madrid Santiago Bernabéu continues to undergo renovation, which includes coverage for the roof with the aid of technology, a retractable pitch, and other features that allow for different activities and sporting events.
Regarding Sports data science, La Liga appears to have the edge over the Premier League due to its investment in data statistics which includes the deal with Microsoft and La Liga Tech, which brings the Sport to a different level.
10. Media coverage and criticism
The Premier League runs a TV-sharing model where each team pockets a fair share of the revenue generated from broadcast partners. Also, teams are compensated based on standings at the end of every campaign, including other bonuses and merit payments.
La Liga also has the same sharing formula where clubs receive equal shares of the league’s TV rights.
However, it wasn’t the same in the previous years of Spanish football, where Real Madrid and Barcelona took the most money compared to smaller teams. This old formula made them super clubs which left the average sides grinding for revenue generation thus, handing a competitive advantage to them.
The other aspect is media criticism. The English media is vocal and tends to criticise poorly performing players, which tends to cause underperforming players to pick up on their level of consistency.
The media hype in England tends to make the unpopular more famous in the sights of others.
La Liga is a different league where the top players are in the spotlight with less criticism regarding their form.
The flops and big stars? Players who move to the Premier League often appear to struggle (not in every case) compared to La Liga.
The Premier League has been characterised by many to be physical and intense competition compared to the Spanish league, where free-flowing football, possession, and direct style.
12. Average matchday attendance
One aspect of football behind the success of teams is the level of atmosphere in the stadium, which includes attendance. According to recent statistics, Premier League clubs enjoy better matchday attendance across Europe.
Clubs like Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Everton, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea have some of the highest game attendance ratios in England.
Unlike La Liga, only Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid enjoy a considerable number of fans who attend games.
- Domestic competition – EPL
- Performance in Europe – La Liga
- Points average and difference – Premier League
- Youth incorporation – Premier League
- Coefficient – Equal
- Refereeing and technology – equal (but slightly La Liga)
- Football transfers – Premier League
- Entertainment – Premier League
- Investment – Premier League
- Media Coverage – Premier League
- Adaptation – La Liga
- Average Attendance – Premier League