While you’re reviewing this video of just another armchair fan, which I somehow missed in January, I’d like to address the idea of how the final table is laid out by the LFP.
Basically, what happened in 2006-07 is still on the books and that’s my problem. I had been unaware of this little detail until Real Madrid came in and took the title from us (were given it by us?), but it turns out that head-to-head is the determining factor in La Liga when two teams are tied on points (read what I wrote at the time here). That means that, at the moment, Sevilla are above Real Madrid in the standings because they’ve got a 2-1 advantage over them on aggregate. In 06-07, RM beat us 2-0 at the Bernabeu and drew with us 3-3 at the Camp Nou (thanks to a spectacular Messi hat trick that really announced his arrival on the world stage), meaning they had a 2 goal advantage over us when it came time to gather points.
Basically, my point stands as it was: 2 games rarely shows the abilities of respective teams whereas a 38-match season certainly does. Anything can happen in a 38-match season, of course, but it’s all the more likely to happen in what amounts to a 2-match season. I don’t want to reproduce my prior argument in full, but here’s a snippet from my responses in the comments section:
I don’t agree with [commenter] Ganesh that goal-difference is “too trivial” because it is indicative of a season-long ability to dominate the game according to whatever kind of system you use. If you are a freely attacking squad, you should score a lot of goals, but you are open to the counter attack and will probably concede goals too. If you’re a defensive team, you will probably not score many goals, but you also won’t allow many.
As the point of the game is to score more goals than your opponents, shouldn’t that be a determining factor in who wins championships?
Basically, I take the long view rather than the short view. What happens in the immediate is, of course, very important, but no more important than what happens across the board. I find it hard to justify that two games played independently of all the other games supersedes what happens in the rest of those games. Reader Jan made a good point worth quoting:
Two matches are simply too few and too vulnerable to factors like temporary form, players missing, unjustified red cards, offside goals [or] whatever can go wrong in a match. Those type of things tend to get evened out over the course of a season. Sometimes those decisions can be in your favor, sometimes they go against you.
In the end, I think it comes down to whether or not you think head-to-head is a good way to determine a league-based system. I don’t because that’s why it’s league based rather than tournament based. Many other sports justifiably use head-to-head, but then, again, those are in one-off games that determine the winners of a tournament or, at worst, determine seeding within a post-season tournament. The BCS, of course, is the worst of all worlds in that it tries to be both subjective and objective at the same time, while factoring in head-to-head and opinions about who is better.
La Liga suffers from trying to make important games into finals, but they’re not finals. If they were finals, I would have no problem with them being decided by head-to-head. See the Copa del Rey and the Champions League knockout rounds. A final is a final, but a league match is just that, a league match. If it is retroactively made into a final, it then becomes a more meaningful match, when it wasn’t at the time.
Obviously we all must abide by the rules as they are, but that does not mean we have to except them as the right way to do things. I believe that all other leagues in the world (save the MLS, perhaps, but I know nothing about the MLS and its playoff system) go by goal differential as the first tiebreaker, then go to goals scored, then goals allowed. That sounds reasonable to me because it becomes a question not of how you performed in 5% of the league, but in 100% of the league.
Let me just say that this is not about Barcelona vs Real Madrid from 3 years ago, but rather about what happens down the table. It happens at least once a year that table positions are flipped at the end of the year because of this. It’s not okay for a title determination and it’s not okay for determining who goes to the Segunda. Or to the Europa League instead of the Champions.
Your thoughts on this?