European Soccer Leagues are the main destination for soccer throughout the world. The continent has been able to organize top Competitions that have have attracted worldwide audience.
Some of the leagues are structured in a way to allow proper competition regardless of the level of participating teams. This has led to the increase in rankings at top level.
Top European competition including UEFA Champions League, European Championship are some of the most watched across the world.
European soccer leagues explained
We’ve brought together some of the biggest European soccer leagues that deserves your attention every now and then and explained how these leagues deserves your time.
Major European Soccer Leagues
1. Premier League – England
The Premier League is England’s top flight professional soccer club contested by 20 teams. The league comprises of teams from England and Wales. The Premier League soccer is one of the most watched around the world.
It is also regarded as the most compatible in the world followed by the La Liga in Spain, Série A in Italy, Bundesliga in Germany and Super Lig in Turkey.
EFL Championship – The EFL Championship is the second professional soccer league in England.
Today, it is ranked as the number second division competition in the world followed by the 2.Bundesliga in Germany.
2. Bundesliga – Germany
The German Bundesliga soccer league has grown over the years even though the last nine years were dominated by one team.
It still remains one of the most watched european soccer league the world.
2.Bundesliga – Germany’s second tier league, it houses some of the biggest soccer teams in world soccer.
3. La Liga Santander – Spain
The Spanish La Liga is Spain’s top flight professional soccer league contested by 20 teams across the Spanish federation.
The league have top soccer teams in the world including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal CF.
4. Série A – Italy
Série A is the top flight professional soccer league in Italy contested by 20 teams.
The Série A used to be Europe’s most followed soccer league before it lost it’s place to the Premier League which became strong following massive infrastructural changes.
5. Ligue 1 – France
Ligue 1 is the top division in France.
The league consist of some of the most responsible soccer teams including Olympique Lyonnais, Olympique Marseille, Paris Saint-Germain, AS Monaco, Lille, etc.
6. Primeira Liga – Portugal
The Portuguese league houses some of the world giants includes FC Porto, SL Benfica and Sporting CP.
7. Eredivisie – Netherlands
The Dutch Eredivisie is one of the top European soccer leagues where talents are often developed.
The Dutch league have served as major destination for some of the most brilliant young players in Europe. Some of the top clubs in the division includes Ajax Amsterdam, PSV Eindhoven,
8. Super Lig – Turkey
The Turkish Super Lig have constantly developed into a more conducive environment for top players leaving the major leagues on the continent.
Top teams in the division includes Galatasaray SK, Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş, İstanbul Başakşehir, etc.
9. First Division A – Belgium
Belgian Pro League or Belgian First Division A is the top flight professional soccer league in Belgium.
The league is one of the major leagues with top talents. Top clubs in the division includes Club Brugge, KRC Genk, RSC Anderlecht, KAA Gent, etc.
10. Premiership – Scotland
Although not as strong as other soccer leagues on the continent. The Scottish Premiership houses some of the greatest soccer teams in world football including Rangers, Celtic, etc.
European Soccer Leagues Ranking
- England – Premier League
- Spain – La Liga
- Italy – Serie A
- Germany – Bundesliga
- France – Ligue 1
- Portugal – Primeira Liga
- Netherlands – Eredivisie
- Austria – Bundesliga
- Russia – Premier League
- Scotland – Premiership
Most of the leagues in Europe are scheduled to run from August to May while the rest are scheduled to run the regular yearly calender which usually begins from March and ends in November.
European Soccer Leagues: International club competitions
The Union of European Football Governing Body UEFA was established to control organized Competition for clubs from member nations across the continent.
The UEFA Europe football competitions include Champions League, Europa League, Europa Conference League and UEFA Super Cup.
Ranking the Competitions, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Europa Conference League and UEFA Super Cup are the major European club Competitions.
All Competitions are played as seasons and not in a calendar year expect for National team tournaments. The Competition usually begins from July in its preliminary stages and ends around May the following year.
UEFA Champions League
The UEFA Champions League is Europe’s premier football competition played by the top clubs from various leagues across the continent.
The UEFA Champions League is regarded as the most prestigious football club competition in the world.
Teams including Barcelona, Juventus, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Porto, Liverpool, AC Milan alongside sides like Paris Saint-Germain competes for the top price.
The Competition was founded in 1995 but was rebranded to its current format in 1992. Since making its debut as the number club knockout tournament, it has continued to attract live up to the billing.
The Champions League begins with a qualifying series for smaller clubs. The eventual winners of these rounds would earn a right to qualify for the group stages.
Top countries including England, Spain, Italy France, would have more slots or directly into the group stages compared to Portugal, Belgium Russia, Netherlands, Scotland, etc.
Clubs are allowed to field teams based on the UEFA club coefficients over the past football calendar years. UEFA runs a process of bidding for cities planning to host the final in its home country.
After the group stages, knockout stages would be completed to determine the two teams that would play in the final which would be held in a neutral venue.
Real Madrid CF is a Spanish professional football club based in the city of Madrid that Competes in La Liga. The Los Blancos are the most successful team when it comes to the UEFA Champions League.
The club from Spain the edition in 1956, a year after the league was established. The Los Blancos successfully defended it the following year in 1957.
Real Madrid made it four straight Champions League titles beginning from its inaugural triumph in 1956 to 1960. This performance remains the tournament’s greatest performance ever even as the club was labelled the greatest ever in the entire history of the competition and second to AC Milan.
Real Madrid has won 13 UEFA Champions League titles. To further stamp its authority, Madrid won the title in the modern era, making it three consecutive titles from 2016 to 2018.
AC Milan is an Italian professional football club based in Milan that Competes in the Série A. Milan is the second most successful team when it comes to Champions League with 7 titles.
Milan could only defend the title it won successfully once (1989-1990) compared to Real Madrid that won it five successive seasons and three in the modern era.
Bayern Munich is a German Professional football club based in Munich that competes in Bundesliga. Bayern Munich alongside Liverpool is the third all-time Champions League winner with six titles each.
Liverpool is an English professional football club based in Liverpool that Competes in Premier League. They are third-time all-time winners alongside Bayern Munich.
Comparable with the FIFA World Cup, it is one of the most unpredictable competitions in the world where smaller teams could cause upset against bigger teams.
Most competitive teams in Champions League
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Porto, Sporting Lisbon, etc.
UEFA Europa League
UEFA Europa League is the continent’s second-tier football competition played by cup winners of teams that fall below the Champions League position.
The winner automatically qualifies for the Champions League group stage the following season. Since its introduction, it has remained a place for smaller or average sides on the continent to fight for a place at the top echelon of football on the continent.
It also provides a level playing ground for players to showcase their talents and eventually attracting the eyes of top European heavyweights that would be interested in securing their services.
The UEFA Europa League started way back in 1955 as Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
From the 1971–72 season, the UEFA Cup was established thus the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup was abolished for the newly adopted continental competition.
A lot of top European football clubs participated and won the Competition as UEFA Cup including Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur, IFK Göteborg, RSC Anderlecht. Since the beginning of the 2009–10 season, it was rebranded to the UEFA Europa League with a change of format, qualification series, etc
Sevilla is the most successful team in the history of the competition having won Six titles. Sevilla is also the only team in history with a perfect record of not losing in any final it has participated beginning with its first success in 2006 and 2007.
Comparable with Real Madrid, Sevilla is one of the few clubs alongside Real Madrid that have won consecutive UEFA Competitions (three in a row) more than any other side.
Sevilla’s success makes Spain the all-time leading Nation according to winners based on countries with 13 titles followed by England and Italy with 9 titles respectively.
Inter Milan is the second most successful team in UEFA Europa League winners history. The club’s first success began in 1991. Inter took hold of its second title in 1994 and four years later in 1998.
Although the Milan based club also lost in two finals, the club remains at the top as second on the all-time winner’s list.
Liverpool is the number one English Football team in the list of all-time winners and best performing teams in the competition with 3 titles. Liverpool won all during the old UEFA Cup era. Liverpool also lost one final in 2016.
Juventus is the second Italian team with three titles tied with Inter Milan with three.
Atlético Madrid is the second Spanish Football club with three titles. The club also boasts of a perfect record in the competition.
Other top sides including Borussia Mönchengladbach, Tottenham Hotspur, Feyenoord, IFK Göteborg, Real Madrid, Parma, Porto and Chelsea.
UEFA Europa Conference League
UEFA Conference League is the newly adopted third-tier football competition for European clubs. It was created to increase the number of participants amongst UEFA member nations.
Since top teams always cut the Europa League and Champions League, the conference is an avenue for new teams to play at the highest level.
The competition began from the 2021/2022 season followed by years of debate by UEFA officials on whether the new Competition would stand.
Although since as fixture congestion, it serves as a gateway for smaller or avoids European clubs to gain more exposure.
Format and Qualification
- Nations ranked 1 to 5 will have one team.
- Nations ranked 6 to 15 will have two teams.
- Nations ranked 16 to 50 will have three teams.
- Nations ranked 51 to 55 will have two teams.
- Group Stages
UEFA Super Cup
UEFA Super Cup is a one-off match played by winners of the UEFA champions league and UEFA Europa League winners from the previous year.
The one-off match organized by UEFA serves as a curtain-raiser for the new season even though the qualifying rounds begin earlier than that.
The Super Cup is also one of the most-watched European football matches after the two top Competitions (UCL & UEL).
Established in 1972, it was contested between the winners of the European Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. The single match is played in a neutral venue selected through the intercity biding process. Cities like Monaco, Belfast have hosted the match.
Barcelona Spanish giants are the most successful team alongside AC Milan when it comes to the UEFA Super Cup. Barcelona has lost in four finals in the history of the one-off match.
AC Milan is the most successful team alongside Barcelona in the UEFA Super Cup. Milan enjoyed more success in the late 1990s and twice the early 2000s.
The Milan based club is the leading Football club in Italy.
Real Madrid is the second most successful team in Super Cup. The Los Blancos and all-time leading Champions of the Champions League have won four Super Cup titles.
Madrid’s success also includes back to back wins between 2016 and 2017. Real Madrid has also lost in three finals.
Liverpool FC is the second most successful team alongside Real Madrid in the one-off cup tie. Liverpool FC is also the top English team with more than two titles.
The Reds have also lost in two finals.
The Spanish capital club has won three Super Cup titles.
Other top teams
Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Ajax, RSC Anderlecht, Valencia, Juventus.
UEFA Youth League
The UEFA Youth League is a club football competition organised by the Union UEFA played by Youth players from member clubs.
Established in 2013, it is contested by the youth (under-19) teams of the clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
Teams can also participate based on success in the domestic youth competitions of the best-ranked national associations.
- Chelsea Youth Team
- Barcelona Youth Team
UEFA Women’s Champions League
The UEFA Women’s Champions League is the number of Women’s club Competitions played by Football clubs across Europe. The competition is the most competitive women’s club football competition played across the world.
Every year, new teams emerge as Champions although the old foes do remain as tough opposition to emerging teams.
Established in 2001–02, the women’s UEFA Soccer league was played as UEFA Women’s Cup and renamed the Champions League beginning from the 2009–10 edition.
From 2009 runners-up from the top eight ranked nations were also selected other than its previous format of domestic league winners. It was initially played as a two-legged final before it was changed to a one-off final.
From the 2021–22 season, there will be the inclusion of the group stage format for the first time as opposed to its initial format.
Lyon is the most successful team in the UEFA Women’s Champions League with over seven titles. The club also holds the most perfect record with just two losses in the final.
Lyon holds an incredible record in world football history, winning the UEFA Women’s Champions League in five successive seasons beginning from 2016 until 2020.
Frankfurt is the second most successful team in history with four titles.
Other top teams
- VfL Wolfsburg
- Turbine Potsdam
UEFA Nations League
The UEFA Nations League is a football league held on a basis biennial contested by the senior men’s national teams from UEFA.
The competition was adopted given creating a competitive environment for the national team or than the usual FIFA International Match Calendar. The Competition ensures European nations would focus on the league to enhance Competition other than random friendlies.
The UEFA’s 55 member associations’ national teams are divided into categorized groups. The UEFA Nations League comprised 16 teams in Leagues A, B and C and seven teams in League D.
The top four winners of League A groups go on to play in the Nations League Final Play-offs.
History of Soccer in Europe
Football in Europe can be traced back to England where it began in 1883. Thus, Professional football began in England and began to spread to other nations on the continent.
UEFA European Championship is the number football competition while the UEFA Champions League represents the best Clubs on the continent.
At the Youth development level, the UEFA Youth League is the number development league for Champions League group stage teams
For national teams, the UEFA European Under-21 Championship forms the basis of player discovery and development.
Top organized European soccer competitions
UEFA European Championship, UEFA Nations League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Europa Conference League, and UEFA Super Cup, etc
Since its establishment, UEFA as a Governing Body had gone on to organize various Soccer Competitions including the UEFA CUP, Cup winners Cup, Fairs Cup, etc.
Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan.
Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria.
Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark
England, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France.
Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungry, Iceland, Israel, Italy.
Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg.
Malta, Moldova, Montenegro.
Netherlands, North Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Norway
Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Russia.
San Marino, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.
Turkey, Ukraine, Wales.
How football in Europe became centre of attraction
Football on the European continent became a centre Of attraction over the years as a result of many factors.
The main reason behind the success recorded by almost all major European Soccer leagues is the aspect of the good organization as well as branding.
Most countries top leagues were products of the old National Division that broke out to form a more formidable league backed by proper organization and management.
Take, for example, the English Premier League that broke out from the old First Division to form the Premier League Company. Organization main reason behind the success achieved by European football leagues.
The UEFA Champions League became great as a result of good branding on the part of UEFA. Today, the likes of La Liga, Ligue 1, Italian Serie and Premier League achieved success as a result of good branding.
The league organizers bent on branding these leagues which helped to attract private or public investors to consider them worthy of investment.
About Soccer and UEFA
Over the years, the European scene has featured several Competitions most of which are still active but have gone through rebrands.
For national team competition organized by UEFA, it is usual held once a year except for the national league which could be held annually based on UEFA’s decision.
Since its rebranding, the body has gone on to create a more stable football Competition for clubs within the European continent.
Football in Europe is controlled by UEFA which oversees everything related to the sport from national team level down to club-based competition.
The role and activeness of UEFA have further helped countries and leagues consider investing more money in the Sport.
UEFA also did its bid by ensuring more money were pumped into UEFA organized Competition like the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA European Football Championship.
The continental Soccer body has helped in the improvement of the league and has continued to do so with the best standard.
The article highlights the European Soccer Leagues rankings, schedule, structure explained including list of teams, competitions, tournaments, cups etc as it relates to soccer in Europe.