Villaflor: The La Liga: Big gets bigger

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Thursday, July 24, 2014


SO Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale has finally said what everyone else knew all along: the Spanish La Liga trumps the English Premier League.

“The Spanish League is the most exciting and the world’s top players play there.

Barcelona or Real Madrid are always there, near the Champions League final or winning it,” Bale was quoted as saying.

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“The Premier League is a great league but we are attracting the best players to La Liga,” he added.

Just look at the big names that will now ply their wares in the La Liga: 2014 World Cup Golden Ball winner James Rodriguez of Colombia and World Cup winner Toni Kroos of Germany now join Bale at Real Madrid, while the infamous Uruguayan Luis Suarez will now play alongside Golden Ball winner Lionel Messi of Argentina and injured Brazilian star Neymar at FC Barcelona.

In contrast, the EPL’s roster of stars is thinning, if not ageing. Sure there are still notable transfers to the league, such as Spain’s Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa moving to Chelsea, Chile’s Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal, but overall, these changes help little in the EPL’s cause to regain dominance in Europe.

And while Barca’s roster seems menacing with its new arrival, it is Real Madrid’s lineup that now really strikes fear among its rivals in the region.

The list of midfielders and forwards is just jaw-dropping: Rodriguez, Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Kroos, and World Cup winner Sami Khedira. Add World Cup runner-up Angel di Maria if he’s not snapped up in the market for at least $80 million.

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti’s biggest headache would be finding the right mix from this star-studded lineup to replicate their 2013 Champions League triumph, a feat that made the Spanish club the first team to win 10 European Cups (the Spanish press called the achievement “La Decima”).

And yet there’s still another question that hangs: after buying World Cup top scorer Rodriguez for a whopping $107 million from Monaco, who else would Real Madrid acquire as the summer transfer season will close on Sept. 1, 2014 yet? Would it top Barca’s risky $127-million acquisition of the mentally unstable Suarez or its own record-breaking $145-million fee for Bale?

The transfer rumor mill has it that Real Madrid might be more inclined to unload players to “pay” for Rodriguez’s massive bill, but who knows what the biggest club in the biggest league on Earth might pull off this transfer season, or the next?

(nsvillaflor@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 25, 2014.

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