|Image: Welt Fussball|
There was not a Premier League footballer to be seen at the Ballon d'Or gala on Monday. No places in the FIFPro World XI, and certainly no mention for the prize of the best footballer on the planet. But that didn't come as a surprise.
For a league which is or maybe was widely considered as the best league on the planet, even with support behind that claim dwindling by each passing season, it's not exactly the way to go about things.
Instead, the Spanish top flight was dominant. Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and eventual winner Lionel Messi represented La Liga with flying colours, continuously breaking new boundaries and transcending to new levels, a standard of football matched by only the elite.
And that "elite" bracket is something the Premier League teams are struggling to keep in, unless of course they are no longer in it. The Champions League shortfalls are one thing, but scarce recognition of the quality on a global scale provides further evidence to diminish the statement of it being the best league on planet Earth.
|No Premier League players were selected in the FIFPro World XI of the Year. Image: ColossusGists.com|
But, just over 24 hours later the excitement and irresistible entertainment value of the Premier League would resurface again. A captivating three goal apiece draw between Newcastle United and Manchester United would perhaps hint that, although the standard of football may be dwarfed in comparison to the rest of the continent, few can match the thrills that the league hardly fails to produce.
If that wasn't enough, the next evening Liverpool and Arsenal would wage a thrilling war under the lights of Anfield proving to be another scintillating advert for the game on British broadcaster BT Sport, who also showed the breathtaking saga at St. James' Park a night earlier.
It's extreme nitpicking to criticise such games which leave you on the edge of your seat throughout the 90 minutes, but from a sceptical view, the defending on display over the midweek football was muddled, disorganized and scrappy.
From a neutral perspective, that's certainly not a negative. In fact most would take open games like that over strategic masterpieces. But maybe from the critics' point and when matched up in the pinnacle of European club competition is where that comes back to bite them.
The midweek serving of football also reiterated the seismic abundance of competitiveness within the league. Leicester City left it late to dispatch Tottenham and went tied first place with Arsenal at the top of the table, less than a year removed from when they survived the relegation battle. Manchester City were also held to a goalless draw; it's as if no one wants to win the league. It's just too close.
At the end of the day, this is the style of football the Premier League cultivates. It may never exercise its prowess, technical magic and sublimity ever again, but what we can be sure of is that the entertainment value goes unmatched. It's competitive too, which is more than a consolation for the so called poor standard of football.
Footballers may not walk away with awards or embrace glory on a wider scale, but as fans in England and beyond, it's ability to entertain is what will keep everyone coming for more.