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November 15, 2019

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La Liga proud of tight fight for the top

The most competitive Spanish Liga in more than two decades is attributable to financial control measures, the league says.

It has never been tighter at the top of La Liga since victories were awarded three points in 1995, with the distance between the leader and the eighth-place team at five points after 13 rounds. The closest it had been before this season was in 1998, when six points separated the top eight.

There are nine teams within five points of leaders Barcelona and Real Madrid, which have a game in hand because their clasico was postponed from October until December 18 because of a separatist rally in the Catalan capital.

Valladolid, in 13th place, is only three points from the qualification positions for European competitions, and Eibar, sitting 15th, is closer to the European spots than to the relegation zone.

Among the teams near the top of the standings this season are Real Sociedad, Getafe, and promoted Granada.

“The financial control measures that the league implemented six years ago allowed the teams to lower their debts and gave them a greater capacity to invest and to maintain their players,” Spanish league president Javier Tebas said. “The smaller teams have improved.”

Tebas said the 2015 change to a centralized method for the sales of television rights — instead of each team negotiating them separately — also helped increase the league’s competitiveness as it significantly increased the revenue of most smaller clubs.

“The top teams will always be fighting at the top, but not as comfortably as in previous years, when we used to have the 100-point league winners,” Tebas said at a meeting with international media on Wednesday. “It’s harder for the top teams to win matches now, there’s more parity.”

Two-time defending champion Barcelona already has three losses this season — to Levante, Granada, and Athletic Bilbao. Real lost at promoted Mallorca, and Atletico Madrid fell against Real Sociedad.

Barcelona has won only 66 percent of its potential points, the smallest percentage among the leaders in the top five European leagues.


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