Despite the fact that soccer has often be thought of as a British game, Europe has certainly caught football fever far beyond the English Channel. With the likes of France, Germany, Spain and Italy all having their own major professional football leagues, keeping up with which is which and what you can expect from the teams and the players is a struggle for more casual fans. Whether you’re looking for a quick overview or you’re looking to get involved with European soccer, we’re taking it back to basics and exploring Europe’s best leagues, below.
The Premier League first formed in 1992 when 20 of England’s best teams came together to play a league of their own. With the top four teams qualifying for the UEFA Championships and the fifth qualifying for the UEFA Europa League, it remains the most important domestic league in the UK. From the introduction of World Cup goalscorer Harry Kane to the fame of Newcastle’s investment in Michael Owen, the Premier League has seen its fair share of highlights and remains one of the most watched leagues in all of Europe to date.
Ligue 1, also known as ‘League 1’, is France’s answer to the Premier League. In fact, it even works on the same 20-club promotion and relegation system as the aforementioned British offering. Teams will play 38 matches each, split between home and away matches in a face -to-face in the leading football competition in the country. Ligue 1 has provided us with the successful AS Saint-Etienne, and Paris Saint-Germain, current league champions.
As one of the top leagues in Europe, La Liga has attracted millions of viewers from all over the globe. With the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid dominating the league table on a regular basis whilst showcasing extraordinary skill, it’s easy to get caught up in the Spanish alternative to the Premier League. Even shock losers Betis aren’t to be ignored, with the potential to soar through the rankings with a few good goals on their belt.
Bundesliga is the German equivalent to the other domestic leagues on this list and features some of the best teams Europe has on offer. From Dortmund to RB Leipzig, the Bundesliga has offered the Europa league some star teams worthy of a place amongst the ranks. This season’s champions are currently Bayern, but Wolfsburg and Hertha certainly aren’t far behind. The league even has one of the highest stadium attendance records worldwide, a worthy title to hold considering that football has quickly become a TV-based sport for most.
Serie A is the Italian equivalent of the aforementioned leagues, playing in a round-robin format against one another twice. Serie A has seen format changes aplenty, with the league switching between 18 clubs in 1929-1934, through to 16 in 1934, 20 in 1946, 21 in 1947, 20 in 1948, 18 in 1952, 16 in 1967, 18 in 1988 and finally, 20 in 2004 which is the state it remains in to this day. The table leaders Juventus have dominated the league with 34 titles to their name and with the recent signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, it is clear that Juventus will continue to dominate the league for years to come.
Despite being the domestic leagues, the Premier League, Ligue 1, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga offer millions of fans some nail-biting gameplay every single year. Patching up the time between the UEFA Championships and the UEFA Europa League, domestic football gives local fans the chance to stand behind their favourite teams and players and cheer them all the way to victory for the chance to get their hands on European championship cups. Which will you watch?