This is a guest post by theScore.com.
It’s an old favourite that sits among other great debates of our time, such as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, Blur or Oasis, Sonny or Cher and, erm, Team Jacob or Team Edward…
When it comes to which professional football league rules the roost in Europe – with full respect to Serie A and the Bundesliga – there are really only two contenders: The English Premier League versus Spain’s La Liga. It’s the cut and thrust of the EPL against the guile and technical skills of Spain’s finest. Olē indeed.
As we start the new football season, theScore – in conjunction with its free mobile apps ScoreMobile and ScoreMobile FC – takes a closer look at what makes the top two tick, both in the world of social media and that other place, the real world. And as infographics are popular and look pretty, we’ve gone and made one of those.
So what did we learn? Well…
- It’s good to talk: When we added up all the followers of official Premier League and La Liga Twitter accounts, it was Spain who took the win with almost nine million compared to five million. However, EPL fans were more active in talking about their teams last year, with 81.5 million tweets, which included official EPL team hashtags, compared with 65.2 million in La Liga.
- Ronaldo and Messi rule Twitter: Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney have just teamed-up as Manchester United players. But in social media they’re fair less prolific than La Liga stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The Barcelona and Real Madrid superstars scored 24.3 million twitter mentions last season compared with just 8.7 million for the EPL pair.
- El Classico takes the title: There were more than 1.7 million tweets mentioning El Classico between Real Madrid and Barcelona on April 21, 2012 compared with just under 500,000 for Man City vs. Man Utd a week later.
- A score-draw on Facebook: When we totaled up all the likes of each official club page, there were just under 67,000 fans separating the two leagues, with the Premier League edging it. Manchester United dominates this space in England, with more than 26 million fans, while Barcelona edges them out with 33 million.
- Best support we’ve ever seen: The Premier League edged out La Liga in terms of total fan attendance. However, the Premier League’s biggest attendance of the season (Manchester United vs. Wolves – 75,627) was easily beaten by La Liga’s top fixture, with 99,252 cramming in to watch Barcelona vs. Real Madrid.
- Goals, goals, goals: The Premier League is the place to see goals – but only just, bagging 1066 compared to La Liga’s 1050 last season. The top scoring game in England came in the 10-goal thriller at Old Trafford in August, when Arsenal were the visitors. Unfortunately for them, eight of those were Man Utd goals. In Spain there were six games containing eight goals and – surprise, surprise – all but one of those featured either Real Madrid or Barcelona.
- Champions of Europe: Spain just edged out the Premier League when it comes to Champions League wins, helped in no uncertain fashion by Real Madrid’s record haul of nine trophies. Liverpool were the EPL’s top performer, scooping five titles. Had Nottingham Forest been in the Premier League, this contest would have been much closer thanks to their two Brian Clough-inspired wins.
- Bad manners: In terms of discipline, either the players in the Premier League are extremely dirty or the referees are extremely strict. There were 158 red cards in England in 2011/12 compared with just 58 in Spain. However, La Liga led the way with bookings – 2310 compared to 1062 – which suggests officials in Spain are more lenient, or their players are just big softies.
- Home is where the heart is: We looked at the starting XI on the final day of last season and counted the number of players born in Great Britain or Spain playing in their respective leagues. La Liga led the way with 137 compared to 104 in the Premier League – perhaps an indication of why Spain has such a great national side, thanks to their willingness to develop their own talent. Or maybe they just produce better players.
*Note all statistics were taken from the regular 2011/12 season with social data, such as Twitter followers and likes, taken from most recent data publically available at time of production. Source: Sysomos