Is La Liga Really a Weak Defensive League?

Tre' Atkinson@@TreAtkinsonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2013

MALAGA, SPAIN - JANUARY 13:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona (C) duels for the ball with Welligton Robson of Malaga CF (L) and Sergio Sanchez of Malaga CF during the La Liga match between Malaga CF and FC Barcelona at La Rosaleda Stadium on January 13, 2013 in Malaga, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

The constant debate of which world football league is best continues to enthrall fans. Some may claim that England is stronger because of the solid defensive tactics.

Other fans turn to the Bundesliga due to the intense competition of the table and aggressive play. Some fans put their trust in La Liga based on the technical attacking ability.

While the point of this article is not to address the question of which league is best, we will take a look at one of the areas commonly referred to as a weakness for La Liga.

Many fans continue to question the defensive ability of Spanish clubs due to the insane amount of goals that are being scored by the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Radamel Falcao.

But despite the amount of goals being scored, is La Liga really a weak defensive league?

When looking at the bare bones of the situation, the clear answer is no. If one were to add the total amount of goals scored in La Liga—as I have already done—you find that there have been a total of 663 goals scored.

This is certainly a very high number and one that supporters of the weak defense position will latch on to. But this number is actually very misleading.

When fans talk of La Liga being weak defensively, they normally turn to the English world of football as their platform. The claim is that the English Premiere League is an overall stronger one defensively.

However, looking at the numbers, this is actually not true.

If one were to add the total goals scored for the English league—as I did as well—you would find that an outstanding 738 shots have hit the back of the net. This is clearly higher than the Spanish league and refutes that notion all together.

Yet another topic brought to the table to prove the weakness of La Liga’s defense is that of goals scored by clubs. Barcelona has scored more goals than any other top-flight club with 78, but one club cannot solidify a debate.

Whereas La Liga has a total of three clubs that have eclipsed 40 goals in league this season, the English league already has six clubs that have done so.

Again the argument is not in the favor of the Premiere League at this point. In fact, if we were to go by these arguments, the case could be made that the English league is actually weaker defensively.

Lastly, fans continue to bring up the dominance of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The argument is, no one would be able to score these amounts of goals if not participating against very weak defenses.

In all honesty, this argument holds no basis.

Lionel Messi is arguably one of the greatest players to ever kick a ball. Cristiano Ronaldo would be this era’s superstar if it were not for his Argentine counterpart. So is the argument against them really valid?

The simple answer is no.

These two stars are not only dominant forces within Spain, but they have become rulers of the football world in all aspects.

Ronaldo has been leading Portugal for years as well as scoring heaps of goals in both Spain and England. Messi continues to break records in Spain, but the 25-year-old also performers outside of La Liga.

Lionel Messi broke the record for most goals in a calendar year for Argentina in 2012 when he bagged 12 goals in nine games. It is also worthy to mention that the Argentine has won everything possible with Barcelona, not only in Spain, but in the entire world of the beautiful game.

Fans will always hold to their own opinions and that is what makes being a football fan great. Some say just watching the Spanish league games can reveal how weak the defenses are. But in contrast, the same is also said for the offensive side of the English game.

In fairness to the “best league” debate, every country has its own style of play.

The style of Spain happens to be very technical and gifted attacking players, which can often overshadow the strong defending in the league. So rather than claiming La Liga is weak defensively, a better statement would be that it is stronger offensively.

So to answer the question that is on everybody’s mind. Is La Liga a weak defensive league?

The answer is clearly no. The facts do not support that argument and there is little in the way of a real debate at this point. Comparing leagues is nearly impossible, but we can easily see that La Liga is solid all around.


Is La Liga weak defensively? If so why? Are there any arguments that I missed? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts and comments below.


Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on twitter for more discussions on La Liga. 


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