Best Premier League XI v Best La Liga XI 2018-19
La Liga and Premier League are widely regarded as two of the most competitive leagues in world football. It goes without saying that in terms of entertainment, quality of football, the calibre of players involved and the global audience, you could make the case they are streets ahead of each of the other top-five leagues in Europe but the jury is still out on which one edges it in terms of overall superiority.
Although the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla have dominated European competitions over the past decade, as many as four English teams remain alive in the semi-final stages of the CL and EL this season and this represents an upturn of fortunes for the Premier League. It’s impossible to determine conclusively which one of these leagues edges it in terms of overall appeal, at the end of the day it boils down to personal preference due to the sheer number of factors involved.
It’s one of those debates you could have for days and find yourself at an impasse, to put it simply it’s a never-ending argument. What is clear is both these leagues are blessed with world class players in abundance and the gulf of class in terms of quality is considerably lesser than what used to be the case a few years ago.
In the early 2000s, English sides were regulars in the Champions League knockouts but over the last decade, Spanish sides have really upped their game and bagged most of the major honours in Europe. The 18/19 season will come as a welcome boost for English sides, with Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal all still alive in the semi-final stage of their respective European competitions.
Hypothetically, if the best XI from both leagues based on their performance this season were to come up against each other, which one of them would come out on top?
Premier League XI
Since both these teams are being squared up against each other, let’s consider a standard 4-3-3 for the sake of consistency.
Premier League XI (4-3-3) – Alisson Becker; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Aymeric Laporte, Andy Robertson; Fernandinho, N’golo Kante, Bernardo Silva, Mohamed Salah, Sergio Aguero, Eden Hazard.
Bench – Ederson Moraes, Jan Vertonghen, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Paul Pogba, Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The 18/19 season of the Premier League has been predominantly about two teams – Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. They’ve been on a league of their own right from the get-go so it should come as no surprise that the team is dominated by players from these two sides.
Trent’s inclusion at right-back might raise a few eyebrows but considering his impact on this Liverpool side, his selection is more than justified. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has had a breakthrough season at Crystal Palace and Matt Doherty has made his presence felt at Wolves but Trent has been a mainstay in one of Liverpool’s greatest teams in the Premier League era. At the age of 20, he’s chipped in with 1 goal and 8 assists in 26 appearances this season, which is a staggering return for a full back.
In midfield, Fernandinho makes it due to his importance to his side. Pep Guardiola possesses the strongest squad in the PL by some distance but Ilkay Gundogan aside, who can fill in as a #6 if need be, they don’t have another defensive midfield player amongst their ranks which makes him an automatic selection. At the age of 33, it’s clear he won’t carry on for too much longer but he’s still one of the best in the business.
Chelsea have had a season of change under Maurizio Sarri. From the days of Antonio Conte where they’d line up with three at back, they’ve had to adapt to a brand of free-flowing attacking football and this came at a cost. N’Golo Kante, one of the best defensive midfield players in world football, has been displaced from his preferred position at the center of the park to be deployed in a free role in front of new signing Jorginho. Although he struggled to understand his role initially, he’s adapted brilliantly to his new role and has been an ever-present for Chelsea in the league this season.
Raheem Sterling is a PFA POTY nominee and his exclusion in favour of Eden Hazard was one of the hardest decisions to make. Consistency is the major factor when it comes to judging a player’s performance over the course of the season and there has hardly been a more consistent attacker in the PL this season than Eden Hazard. Chelsea are 5th in the league but the Belgian maestro has racked up 16 goals and a league-high 13 assists, thereby having most goal involvements in the country.
As for the right wing, Mohamed Salah becomes an automatic selection thanks to his brilliant return of 19 league goals and 10 assists.
Honourable mentions - Lukasz Fabianski, Matt Doherty, James Maddison, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ryan Fraser, Son Heung-Min.