Primera Liga suffers as the gap at the top gets wider

With 39 points separating champions Real Madrid and third-placed Valencia this season, only big-spending Malaga can even think about challenging Spain's big two.

Real Madrid earned 100 points this season, a comendable feat but also a result of the inequality of La Liga. Denis Doyle / Getty Images
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Thirty-nine points separate champions Real Madrid from third-placed Valencia, a yawning gulf which starkly exposes the inequalities of the Primera Liga.

The gap between first and third is bigger than that between third and the bottom side Racing Santander. Since Villarreal finished second in 2008, the big two have pulled away from the rest. Seventeen points separated first and third in 2009, 29 in 2010 and 25 points last season.

No longer do teams like Valencia, twice title winners in the 2000s, believe they can compete for the title. Spanish football is the loser.

While Jose Mourinho's side deserve every credit for becoming the first team to reach 100 points in a season and for shattering scoring records, the Barca-Madrid duopoly needs addressing, fast.

A TV contract skewed in favour of Barca and Real doesn't help, but Spain's economic crisis has really hit potential challengers. The property crash directly affected finances, and things are unlikely to improve soon.

Spain's third-placed team managed 70 or 71 points in the three seasons between 2009 and 2011; Valencia amassed 61 this season.

The Qatari-owned Malaga now pose the only potential challenge. Like Manchester City in England or Paris St-Germain in France, their fans love their new owner. Their fourth place means a first tilt at the Champions League.

But unless other billionaires are looking for an investment, or attitudes to funding change radically, challenges at the top of the Primera Liga will continue to wither.

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