Why Spanish clubs are ruling Europe yet again
By Richard Martin
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid's passage to the Champions League final and Sevilla qualifying for the Europa League equivalent for a third straight year has underlined Spain's dominance of European soccer.
The nation's hegemony can be put down to a blend of the financial muscle of Real and Barcelona, ranked the two richest clubs in the world according to the Deloitte Money League, and top-quality coaching from grassroots level to the elite.
Since 2000 there have been 12 Spanish finalists in the Champions League, more than any other European league, and the final in Milan on May 28 guarantees an eighth winner from the country during that spell.
Barcelona, who have won the Champions League four times in the past decade, have produced an array of skillful players from their academy who grew up playing possession-based soccer that the first team still practices.
The club have supplemented home-grown talents such as captain Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique by buying world-class individuals like Luis Suarez, Neymar and Ivan Rakitic.
Atletico's 2014-15 earnings of 187 million euros ($210.68 million) are well below the colossal incomes of Real (557 million euros) and Barcelona (560 million), and their success has hinged on Argentine coach Diego Simeone who has turned the club's fortunes around since taking charge in 2012.
"An interesting aspect of Spanish soccer is its diversity, fomented by a new generation of coaches," wrote journalist Santiago Segurola in the Marca newspaper on Friday.
"La Liga is a kaleidoscope of styles, something unusual in the rest of Europe. The sensation is that Spanish soccer, with all its organizational deficits, has transformed into an ideal laboratory for teams in European competition." Continued...