Which one is the best, Premier League or Spanish Liga BBVA?

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Many times football fanatics have wondered which one is the best professional football league of the world. Take into account some different aspects of the football, i’ll try to expose why I think that the Premier League is better than the Liga BBVA.

1. The teams
There is no doubt that the two best teams of the world play in Spain. Barcelona and Madrid have demonstrated during the years to be among the best clubs and nowadays their monster budgets allow them to sign up the world greater players. Anyway, there is a deep difference between the two main teams and the others. It is usually said that there are two leagues in Spain: Madrid-Barcelona league to get the championship and the other one, to get the third place. Valencia’s economic problems and Atletico de Madrid’s irregularity during last years has become the Spanish league a copy of the former Scottish one, with only two teams in the real fight for the title and both of them hardly ever loosing a game.
In the other side, England has more candidates for the title. The foreign investment to Manchester City and Chealsea opened the contest to more teams, not only the usual favourites Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal. Also, teams like Tottenham or Everton, although not been in the challenge for the trophy, are able to get point from the best teams fields. English league is more equal and the results use to be tight when the teams named above face each other. Spanish league, although, is decided when Madrid and Barcelona play each other.

The two great teams are so powerful becouse of their gains, utterly bigger because of the unfair distribution of the TV rights. In Spain, Madrid and Barcelona earn 140 million € each, as the third earns 42 millions and the last aproximately 12 millions. In England, the team wich wins more money for the TV rights earns 68 millions a year and the last, 44. This is howTV rights money are the foundation of Madrid and Barcelonas economic strenght, that makes the difference wider with the other teams in Spain, as they have more money to sign up better players. In Engalnd the distribution is more fair.

2. Calendar and schedules

Here is the great difference between both leagues. Spanish leagues organisation is a wide disaster. Schedules are set only 10 days before the games are to be played and the TV companies have the whole authority to establish when the games are played. That is because the games are played one by one, with no two games at the same time and playing games on Monday at 9pm or Saturdays at 10pm. Many supporters considerate that they are mistreated by those ones who role the Spanish football.

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Furthermore, Spanish league stops for Christmas, when most of the people are on holiday and more children are allowed to attempt a football match. In England, the Boxing Day crowds the stadiums with families and teams play more games than usual for Christmas. With no doubt, England wins the organisational comparison.

3. Attendance and stadiums

This point is closely associated to the point before. In England it is usual to see al the fields crowded. In Spain, it’s more than unusual to see one with the full-attendance. Only Camp Nou and Bernabéu use to be full and many stadiums (Getafe, Mallorca, Vigo, Zaragoza…) hardly ever reach to half-attendance. The reasons are the schedules and the prize. In fact, it’s almost impossible to attend to a match paying less than 50€.
Empty stadiums don’t give a good image of the Spanish league and yet Spanish supporters are not as fond on cheering and singing as the English.

Now, you can comment below and argue which one is the best football league of the world.

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Feeling devotion

Currently playing the second games of the Euroleague I must admit that basketball is for me the most amusing sport and even more the European competition. Without the marketing and NBA’s show-business, understanding basketball as it is, Euroleague is the best basketball competition.

To say basketball is to say emotion and magic. The deceased Spanish journalist Andrés Montes summed up in one of his most known phrase: “Here we are, living basketballs magic”.

This year, as usual, the contest will be amazing. Without Kirilenko and taking into account the Greek team’s cut, the victory is able for more candidates. CSKA is still the team to beat, with the best playmakers pair (Teodosic and Aaron Jackson) and probably the best center, Nenad Krstic. Panathinaikos and Olympicacos, leaded by Diamantidis and Spanoulis, will be strong candidates for London’s Final Four. Panathinaikos will miss Obradivic, but signing up Schorchianitis the team makes a step onwards. Olympiacos, having one of the most talented players, Papanikoloau (age 22) is always competitive and a hard team to beat, specially playing at home.

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Real Madrid, the most amusing team playing a offensive basketball, that under Pablo Laso’s direction has created a new style inspired in attacking and scoring as many points as possible, is one of the favourites for the win. Rudy Fernández has given then that necessary competitive step forward that make then able to beat the great European teams and their defensive strength.

Other Spanish team, Barcelona, that has played many Final Fours makes me have a doubt about his performance this year. Fran Vazquez and N’Dong have left a hole in the center position of the team and the Navarro-dependence could be fatal for them, taking into account that Navarro is not a lad and if he gets injured there is no other player that can replace him.


Don’t ever forget Fenerbache (with Batiste, Andersen and McCalebb) and Caja Laboral Baskonia (with Nocioni leading young talented players as Namanja Bjelica, Tibor Pleiss, Heurtel or Fabien Causeur). And of course Maccabi Electra, always competitive and taugh.

Take for sure that Euroleague is synonym of show, amazement and magic. Watching The Greek and Turkish supporters filling their courts, absolutely crowded by enthusiastic fans cheering and shouting excites me.  I feel devotion!

The grandpa mountaineer

On of the most fascinating stories that you can find in the world of the mountain climbing is Carlos Soria’s challenge. He is trying to surmount the 14 higher mountains of the world, in Spain known as the “ochomiles” (the eight-thousands). That could be a usual history from a dreamer mountain climber if you didn’t take into account his ID. Carlos Soria was born in 1939 and he is 73 years old. He has just come back from an expedition in which he has been focussed for the last month and a half: reaching the summit of Dhaulagiri, the mountain which could have been his 12 from 14 higher mountains.

But he failed. Only with 600 metres left to the summit the strong wind and the risk of avalanches make him go back to the camp base. His conscientiousness and his experience make him return in order to not put himself at risk. He felt strong and he was too close. He wouldn’t give up easily. That’s why he stayed one day at Camp 3, waiting for a coming better weather. But the weather worsened and there was not other choice to leave the mountain.

He started climbing 8.000 metres mountains when he was 51, in 1990, and since them he has get 11, being the older person to climb K2, BroadPeak, Makalu, Manaslu and Lhotse. Yet, he is the only person climbing nine of 8.000 metres high mountains at the age of 60 or more.

In fact, Carlos worked as an upholsterer, but after retirement he focused on his main hobby and his great passion: the mountains. For many years, men have had a strange and inexplicable fondness for climbing mountains. Robert Macfarlane explains it in his book “Mountains of the mind”. He states that mountains induce modesty on us, reshapes our understanding of ourselves; make us aware of our own smallness. And, of course, reignites our astonishment at the simplest transactions of the physical world. Mountains become a drug from many people It’s not easy to understand why many people dedicate themselves on climbing mountains. For some, it has no sense. It’s only a stupid way upwards so as to go downwards then. But for people like Carlos Soria this is a simple way of life.

Soria has also climbed the 7 highest mountains of the 7 continents, challenge that he finished at age 71. And he has only 3 mountains left to have reached the summit of the 8 higher mountains of the world.

Since 2011 he is sponsored by the Spanish bank BBVA (also sponsor of the NBA or the Spanish Football League), that has provide him better conditions to keep on doing what he most likes: climbing mountains. The sponsonship campaing is called “I climb with Carlos Soria”.

It’s difficult to say if he could conclude his challenge, but to try reaching 8.000 metres high mountains at the age of 73 is, without doubt, a great merit and a true inspiriting story of overcoming.

Cyclo-cross, the most amazing non Olympic sport

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It’s considered as the “poor brother” of cycling, the most unknown modality, but many cycling lovers that can’t wait to the road cycling season calm down the bike angry with cyclo-cross and after become fanatic. This is the main feature of cyclo-cross, the season starts in October and finishes in February, five months of races. Thereby, when there is no road cycling, there is cyclo-cross.

It’s a winter sport and it’s not a Olimpic modality. That’s why its not as known as road cycling, track cycling, BMX or Mountain Bike. Unfortunately, cyclocross is mainly focussed in Belgium. In fact, the first 8 riders in the past World Championship were born in the centre-European country. There are also cyclocrossmans from other countries, especially from France, Nederland, Czech Republic and Germany, but the best no-Belgian riders use the cyclo-cross to gain a good reputation in the world of cycling and join a road cycling team. The former World Champion Zdenek Stybar or Lars Boom did it recently.

Niels Albert in a crowded circuit. Slimbweg.be

The most attractive feature of this sport is that during an hour you see the riders riding full-gas along the circuits, mainly meadows, where the ground becomes muddy and to cycle is highly complicated. The start of the races is spectacular, with the riders placed like F-1 cars and trying to get the first curve in a good position. After the start, the circuit uses to become narrow and in almost an hour race is important to be always in the front of the race.

The sinuous circuits use to have obstacles, as steps, and sometimes riders need to get off the bike and run, carrying the bike on the back or dragging the bike by the side. Sometimes, the have to go up so hard slopes that there is not other way that dismounting and going up walking. Furthemore, sand is usually used to make the circuit harder. Watch here an example:

There are three main competitions: the World Cup, the Superprestige and the B-Post Bank Trophee (the former GvA). The World Cup is the most important one with races all over Europe, including France, Italy and CzechRepublic.  The Superprestige is considered as the second, but to win it gives you a wide reputation in Belgium. All the races take places in Belgium. B-Post Trophee is the third, with a different competition format, by taking into account the chrono of every eight races. Each competition has 7-8 races from late October to early February. 4 months of competition, a short season for the riders that need to be in good shape from the start to the finish, so as to have chances to win in any 3 competitions.

Niels Albert

Every year, usually in early February, this sport chooses the World Champion. This year, the World Championship will be held in Louissville (USA). It’s the first time that the rainbow jersey’s fight will take place in a no-European country. This sport is growing up in USA with many races and increasing number of riders, so the UCI is looking for wide the boundaries of this monopolised by Belgians sport.

Cyclo-cross most important races are usually won by the same riders. Three or four of them share out the main victories. Nowadays,  Sven Nys is the “number one”. The “Cannibal”, as its known, has dominated this sport for many years. He is now 35 years old but he is still the man-to-beat in every races. There is also Niels Albert, the current World Champion, an irregular rider that can dominate a race from the start to the finish or have a bad start and suffer to get the front of the race. He uses to have injuries during the season that, for the moment, have not allowed him to complete a full season in a good shape. The third rider that is always on the front is Kevin Pauwels. An “ice-man”, almost imperturbable,  improving his performances in the most complicated and muddy circuits and dominant in the most flattened and easy ones.

The “big three” will be fighting until now to February to get the glory in this sport. Races are usually streamed by Sporza and links provided by Cyclingfans.com. The most of the races schedule is Sunday at 15.00. I advise you to open your mind to this sport and enjoy one of my favourite sport events.

Believe, that is the question

Although the way is hard and covered by obstacles, cycling will always survive.

The recently issued USADA’s document against Lance Armstrong has focussed the world of sport again to doping. Many times has cycling suffered doping scandals but, as we have seen last season, the sport of pedalling is still alive.

Thanks to USADA’s work, and the statements of many riders and former riders, now there is no doubt that doping has taken an important part on cycling. USADA has proved it. Cycling, always stained with the shadow of doubt, is now known to have been a farse during many years.

Even the ones who bear the flag of new and clean cycling, like Jonathan Vaughters and Christian Vandevelde, from Garmin,  or Michael Barry, from Sky, have taken part to the system. There was no chance, they claim.

The fact is that as many are still talking about Armstrong and USADA’s quarrel, live continues and cycling goes on, in Beijing, thousand of kilometres away from the media storm, rides keep on racing.

Cycling is not going to die. If it hasn’t do it already, it hardly will do it in the future. It can survive the fall of the greatest rider of the 21st Century. And that’s because instead of the wide doping scandals, the positive things of this wonderful sport have even more power than the dim ones.

Cycling is more than sport. It is a way of life. You get faster to happiness riding a bike. People still amazes seen riders attacking in the hard slopes of the high mountains of the Tour or Giro. Aremberg forest is crowded every April by people having fun with the fight between riders and cobbles. Kapelmuur will one day comeback to the Ronde Van Vlandereen to give us that mystic image of riders passing by the chapel.

Some have demonstrated that training hard and using sophisticated methods one can be transformed from a fat-ass pistard to a Tour de France winner.

Young riders have grown with Festina and Puerto affairs and for sure that they don’t want their sport to become again the shame of the sport.

It’s complicated to believe in a sport that has anew disappointed us. The system has not been reliable. Like religion, cycling is a question of believe or not to. It has endured so many punches that we could fancy that one day it will be knocked out. But it will not. Cycling has changed, or at last, is being changed. And the shadow of doping is shrinking.

The Spanish Michael Phelps

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Spain, hometown of many of the greatest athletes of the world. Birthplace of Gasol, Nadal, Fernando Alonso or Andrés Iniesta. But among of them there is one athlete that shines more than anyone. And she shines because of the Olympic medals that she has, many as Michael Phelps.  

She is Teresa Perales, the Paralympic swimmer who reached the epic mark of 22 medals in London 2012. The Spanish flag-bearer in the openning ceremony. Surely the greatest Spanish athlete if we take into account her story of overcoming, that has always got what she wanted to, and not only in the world of sport. Unfortunately, she was born in a country that you are hardly taken into account if you are a woman athlete and, ever more, if you are disabled.

She competed in the S5 category, but in breaststroke, where she does in S4. She can’t move her legs. She moves in a wheelchair since she was 19.

There are two types of disabled people. The ones who say “I can’t” and the other who say “Why I couldn’t?” Without a doubt, Perales belongs to the second type. The first time she went into a swimming pool she had to use a life jacket. After that, she would realize that under the water her disability wouldn’t be a limit any more.

She started competing in international challenges in 1998 and two years after she won the first four medals in Sidney. The Paralympic dream started there but is still not over: with 22 medals she is looking for Rio 2016, where she hopes to increase her mark with more medals than the myth Michael Phelps.

During this years she astonished her family and friends by getting married standing, using a machine that “it hurt” but allowed her to forget the wheelchair during the ceremony. She also had a child, “Nano”, that enjoyed last summer watching his mother swimming and winning 6 medals in the AquaticsCenter. He appears in the video below:

Having a child didn’t let her prepare the Games as she would like and in London her shape wasn’t so god as in Beijing. She started getting medals but the gold seemed to escape from her. But, finally, she got it. It was in her last performance in London, the 100m freestyle. There she finally got her British Gold and matched Phelps with 22 medals. She reached that final absolutely exhausted because of the previous 5 finals, but she couldn’t leave London without Gold and she did it.

Perales taught as what any people need to learn in life: to ask to ones head everyday “why I couldn’t?” Doesn’t mind what the issue is, if it’s overcoming psychical problems, having a child despite of being disabled or getting medals and matching Michael Phelps.

She hasn’t the recognition that the other Spanish athletes that I named in the beginning have, but she has a lot to teach them about overcoming. She is one of the greatest Spanish Athletes of the story and being disabled or not hasn’t nothing to do with this. Her ability to self-improve and overcome adbersity, and her capacity to win medals since Sydney 2000 to London 2012 let us know how she is. And looking for the future, as she uses to say, “Perales is not over”