Free DP Download 22 August 2019 - HEALTHY COMPETITION IN LA LIGA CONTRIBUTED TO SPAIN’S DOMINANCE OF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOOTBALL, 2008-2018

Thursday, August 22, 2019

THE INTERDEPENDENCE OF DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS: The case of the UEFA Champions League
Juan D. Moreno-Ternero and Shlomo Weber  
CEPR DP No. 13927 | 13 August 2019

A new CEPR study by Juan Moreno-Ternero and Shlomo Weber analyses the success of Spanish football teams in the UEFA Champions League during the decade from 2008 to 2018. The success of Spanish teams in this period is linked to the intermediate level of ‘competitive balance’ in its domestic competition – La Liga – with respect to the other big European competitions – the English Premier League, Italy’s Serie A and Germany’s Bundesliga. Among the findings: 

  • During that decade, La Liga was characterised by rivalry between two powerhouses (Barcelona and Real Madrid), and involved a significant amount of effort (and stress) to win domestically, unlike Juventus and Bayern Munich, who dominated their domestic leagues. 
  • The low levels of competitive balance in Serie A and the Bundesliga could have hurt efforts to challenge internationally, as these teams would not be seriously challenged on a weekly basis, which would render them unprepared to face much tougher European competition. 
  • With the occasional exception of Atletico Madrid, the rest of the teams in La Liga offered little domestic competition, in contrast, for example, with the English Premier League, which had four different champions in its last seven seasons. 

The study concludes that neither an extremely high domestic competitive level (as in the Premier League), which might require a strong effort to win the tournament domestically, leaving teams exhausted for the last rounds of the international competition, nor a very low domestic competitive level (as in the Bundesliga or Serie A), which might leave teams out of shape and mentally unprepared for the last rounds of the international competition, is a good situation.

Table 1: Competitive balance rank averages of the Big 4 Leagues during the period 2013-2018 

Notes: CH-rank-average: is based on the sum of the quadratic share of points won by each club in a league. CR-rank-average: the ratio of the share of points won by the first 5 clubs compared with the entire league. SDLP-rank-average: standard deviation of league points 


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