What are the chances that Barcelona or Real Madrid travel for their first away game of the season, against a newly promoted team that didn't play in the top league for 51 years, and return with a loss, having conceded three goals? In Spain that would be inconceivable. In England it happened on Sunday to a club as rich as Barcelona or Real — Manchester City. This didn't happen due to problems in defense, the new coach or because of Cardiff's enthusiasm. It's just a matter of competitiveness.
In England and Spain the season just began, but Barcelona has already recorded a 7-0 win and Atletico Madrid scored five goals in one game. Real was also expected to win last night and maintain a perfect record.
This season marks a decade since Valencia won the league, the last club that spoiled Barcelona and Real's grip, and ever since it seems the duopoly only got stronger. True, only three clubs won the Premier League during this time, but it's still a completely different affair.
In general, the English game is more open, and when a huge club meets a smaller club there's more of a chance for an upset. There's hope in the heart of the beautiful game. In Spain, generally speaking, this just doesn't happen much anymore.
In the past two years the English champions ended the season with 89 points, while the Spanish champions — from the same number of games — managed 100 points. That's the difference between a league with some competitiveness and a league with almost no room for surprises. A season earlier, the English champion had 80 points and the runner-up 71 points; in Spain it was 99 points and 96 respectively. Even if it seems that the champion in England will be one of those three leading clubs — Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea — from the perspective of hoping to see an upset, it’s better watching Cardiff City against Manchester City than watching Barcelona against Levante.