Premier League leading the way with attacking football
New stats show the Premier League is ahead of La Liga in terms of attacking football
Half of the 2012/13 campaign has already flown by in a blaze of controversy, drama and action - and the turn of the new year promises a whole lot more.
In England, Champions of Europe Chelsea have sacked the man who took the to glory on a balmy night in Munich back in May, in Spain Real Madrid appear to be constantly on the verge of collapsing in on themselves while in Germany, Bayern Munich seemingly have one hand on the trophy already after a staggeringly good start.
It is an age old question and one that is hard to answer, but at the half-way point of the season it seems pertinent to ask; which league is the best?
Of course there is a certain amount of subjectivity to such a question but one way of comparing the leagues to one another is to look at the statistics and this time round they paint an interesting picture.
Spanish and European football has been dominated in recent years by Barcelona and their tiki-taka style; a tactic the Spanish national team have deployed to perfection recently to carry them to three consecutive major international trophies.
But a new set of statistics published by El Pais in Spain reveal something quite unexpected. Even though Barcelona are the team to have completed the most passes on average per game in the first half of the season (666 passes per game), it is the Premier League that leads the way in terms of most passes per game compared to La Liga and Bundesliga.
On average a Premier League game in the 2012/13 season has 697 passes per game, while the Bundesliga has 664. Compare that to La Liga's average of 638 and the oft-stated belief that the Premier League is high on entertainment but low on quality is cast in a new light. Equally, Spain's obsession with possession doesn't seem quite as universal as originally thought.
Of course it is no use having all that possession and making so many passes if there is no end product, and once again Spain lags behind the English and German leagues. The Bundesliga leads the way with an average of 2.9 goals per game with the Premier League just behind on 2.88. Spainish league games have on average 2.85 goals per game.
Barcelona do at least take the individual title for most goals per game; spearheaded by Lionel Messi, the Catalan club score 3.35 goals per game, ahead of Juventus (2.75), Bayern Munich (2.59) and Paris Saint-Germain (1.89).
When it comes to shots on target, once again it is the Premier League that leads the way; English clubs take on average 27.8 shots per game, ahead of the Italians, who attempted 26.8 in each game so far this season.
So all the stats seem to show that the Premier League, closely followed by the Bundesliga, can offer up more consistent high-quality football compared to La Liga, which is commonly held up as the best league in the world.
Swansea's Spanish defender Chico Flores believes there is an explanation as to why the Premier League can seemingly offer up more attacking football than his much-vaunted countrymen.
"The condition of the pitches is perfect and encourages passing. And the rhythm is faster, it doesn't stop for 90 minutes," he said. "The game is so fast there are fewer fouls because you don't have time to catch your opponent."
Norwich's Javier Garrdio believes there is also another reason for the Premier League's success this term.
"In England the referees want the game to flow, so there are fewer interruptions," he said.
So all that paints a pretty interesting picture, namely that the Premier League is the place to be for attacking, flowing football, right?
Well. yes and no. What is noticeable is that after Barcelona this season, there is a huge drop off in quality. The Catalan club are by far and away the most prolific scorers and have most possession and passes, but beyond them it seems as though the drop-off in attractive football is quite noticeable.
Of course, the fact that La Liga is something of a two-horse race has been known for some time, and that is something the stats show. Barcelona outshine pretty much every other European team but the strength in the depth in the English league seemingly make it a stronger competition overall.
So what these figures show is that for the very best games in the world, watch Barcelona. But if you can only follow one league in its entirety then the Premier League appears to be the best bet.
"La Liga is a two-horse race," notes Garrido. "In England, with the arrival of foreign investors, it has balanced out. A few years ago it would have been impossible for Manchester City to be in with a chance of winning the title."
What that could be attributed to is the equal distribution of TV money in England compared to Spain, which allows more clubs to be competitive and attract a better calibre of player. Indeed, clubs lower down the ladder like Swansea and Southampton have been able to snap up Michu and Gaston Ramirez, both players capable of gracing one of the bigger clubs in England.
The Ballon d'Or winner will be announced tonight, with all three finalists plying their trade in La Liga. There can be no doubt that the very best players in the world can be found in Spain, but the distinctly uneven distribution of wealth and talent mean that for an overall viewing experience, the Premier League is currently the place to be.