Since football is the most popular sport in the world, you can easily find a long list of football leagues in the world. Each of these leagues offers exciting football that is fun to watch and bet on.
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When Filipinos hear that football is a trendy sport, it’s natural to wonder how many football leagues there are in the world. The answer to this query will vary depending on your definition of an eligible football league.
If you count leagues on every level, thousands of football leagues can easily exist in the world. However, narrowing your search parameters will determine the leagues to those played competitively by adult men, and the list will shorten to 209.
It’s also essential to determine what a professional football league is. It’s a league where all players and coaching staff are paid a full-time salary and treat the game as their main source of income.
Europe has many professional football leagues, with almost every nation having its football pyramid. Asia, North America, South America, Africa, and Oceania also have football leagues, but not all are professional.
There are too many football leagues to even try and follow them all. Even the Pearl of the Orient has its own pro football league in the Philippines Football League.
However, only a select few can be considered the top football leagues in the world. These leagues boast the game’s biggest names, innovative coaches, and the highest-quality games.
The following competitions are leagues and contests you should follow to fall in love with the Beautiful Game.
The English Premier League is the top football competition in England. This league involves teams from England and Wales competing almost weekly from August to May to determine which club plays the best football.
The English Premier League standing features 20 of the best teams from England and Wales. They play every other team in the league twice a season, and the fixtures can change depending on the competitions they are currently involved in.
Every Premier League game is worth three points if won. However, both teams must make do with one point if the match ends with a draw.
At the end of every Premier League season, the top club with the better points tally and/or goal difference wins the league title. Alongside the league champion, the clubs that place second, third, and fourth are eligible to compete in the Champions League.
Clubs from fifth to seventh are eligible for the Europa League and Conference League, depending on certain conditions. Meanwhile, the bottom three teams are relegated to the EFL Championship, replaced by the top three teams from that league for next season.
When you ask a Premier League fan who is the best team in the Premier League, they’ll likely either answer their favorite club or the league leaders. However, the question has more nuance than you’d like to admit.
If you’re basing your answer on the number of Premier League trophies won, Manchester United easily takes the cake. The Red Devils have won 13 of the 31 Premier League seasons. However, it’s important to note that all of these happened during their golden years under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Others will immediately point to Manchester City. The blue side of Manchester won six EPL titles, and they have some of the most exciting players in the league. It will be interesting to see if they can topple United’s record within the coming decade.
Other clubs have put up impressive performances, though. There’s Arsenal’s Invincibles, the only team in English footballing history never to lose a single game. Chelsea also thrived during the turn of the century.
Liverpool ended their long championship drought in 2020. Tottenham is also competing despite their lack of proper silverware. With their unlikely EPL win, Leicester pulled off one of the most impossible fairy-tale runs in the game.
While these teams are among the best in English football, it’s important to note that there are other Premier League teams to take note of. They may not have the star power of the top six, but they all have something different that makes them appealing to the neutral fan.
At the top of this list is Newcastle United. Once a club at the summit of the English top flight in the 1920s, they fell on hard times during the first two decades of the 21st century. However, their new Arabian owners inject money and talent to improve the squad quickly.
Brighton and Brentford are two of the most exciting Premier League teams that have performed over the past couple of seasons. Their ability to find quality players for cheap and implementation of ingenious tactics let them compete with clubs with bigger budgets than theirs.
Other clubs have also established their place in the Premier League despite not constantly competing for a title. Examples include Everton, Fulham, Crystal Palace, West Ham, and Aston Villa.
Formally known as the Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera Division, La Liga is Spain’s highest level of professional football. It features some of Europe’s most historic clubs and players that impact the game.
Like the Premier League, La Liga hosts 20 clubs where they compete for the right to be called Spain’s best. Clubs that finish in the top six can play in European competitions, while the bottom three will be relegated to La Liga 2.
However, it’s hard to answer who is the first team in the La Liga standings. Clubs face different dilemmas every La Liga campaign, and it can become tough to call which team would likely stand on top when the dust settles.
As of the 2022/23 season, Barcelona is running away with the title. However, there are still more games for Real and Atletico Madrid to pull off an upset and the title from under Barca’s rug.
It’s hard to determine which club will finish first per season, as clubs constantly look for ways to improve their squads.
Unlike the Premier League, where you can argue for multiple clubs as the greatest in the league, two teams are widely considered by pundits and fans a tier above the rest when asked who is the best team in the La Liga table.
FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are two of the most storied teams in club football. They have huge followings worldwide and play distinct styles that make them attractive to specific demographics.
Real Madrid is the most successful Spanish side in league history. They have 35 La Liga titles to their name and 24 runners-up honors. They tend to buy some of the world’s biggest players, like Cristiano Ronaldo and Eden Hazard, to compete and dominate.
Meanwhile, Barcelona is famous for their possession-based football and preference to develop players through their famed La Masia football academy. They have 26 La Liga trophies and 27 runners-up medals to their name. They saw exemplary players like Lionel Messi climb up from their youth setup, though they’re not averse to opening their bankbook for the right player.
Other important teams that have won La Liga Titles include Atletico Madrid (11), Athletic Bilbao (8), Valencia (6), and Real Sociedad (2).
When football fans think of Barcelona, they usually think of players in red and blue overwhelming opponents in spectacular fashion.
But did you know that when you ask what is the biggest win ever recorded in La Liga, Barcelona is on the wrong side of the conversation?
The Blaugrana were involved in an embarrassing 12-1 beatdown at the hands of Athletic Bilbao in 1931. Barcelona’s defense were at the mercy of Bata, who scored a hat-trick within the game’s first thirty minutes and seven goals in total.
Strikes from Lafuente, Iraragorri, Garizurieta, and Roberto compounded the pain. Meanwhile, Goburu was the only player who notched a goal for Barca. Sastre’s 71st-minute own-goal put the finishing touch to an embarrassing day on the field.
German football offers its brand of exciting football through the Bundesliga. It’s a league that’s been providing quality matches since 1962, producing some of the world’s best footballers that won World Cups in the process.
Compared to the other leagues, there are only 18 teams in the German top flight. The best six clubs get the right to play in European competitions. Meanwhile, the bottom two teams are automatically relegated, while the third-worst team will play in a relegation play-off against the third-best team in 2. Bundesliga.
When you quickly search about the Bundesliga, you will find Borussia Dortmund as one of the league’s best sides. They’re constantly competing against Bayern Munich to try and topple the latter’s chokehold in the league.
Unfortunately, they’re also on the wrong side of the conversation when you ask a Bundesliga historian, “What is the biggest win in Bundesliga history?”
Borussia Monchengladbach beat them black and blue during the final matchday of the 1977/78 season. Their defense was rendered useless as Die Fohlen blasted 12 goals past them.
It was a harrowing affair for the BVB faithful as their club also lost that season’s Bundesliga title by three goals.
Like most of the top football leagues in the world, the question of what is the best team in the Bundesliga is too complicated to give just a quick answer. However, one team has long held the standard for what the best German football should look like.
Bayern Munich has won ten straight Bundesliga titles from 2012/13 until 2021/22. Die Bayern kept their dominance in the German top flight thanks to the quality of their players and coaches during that dominant stretch.
However, Dortmund is continuing to try and topple the Bavarian giants. The BVB continuously keeps itself in the Bundesliga title conversation thanks to its excellent player acquisition and development.
Other teams have also tried toppling Bayern over the past couple of seasons. RB Leipzig, SC Freiburg, Union Berlin, Wolfsburg, and Bayer Leverkusen are some of the clubs that have tried to bring Bayern down over the past couple of years.
Serie A TIM is the biggest professional football league in Italy. It has a rich tradition of being one of the most prestigious football leagues, and its quality of play keeps up with the biggest competitions.
The Italian top flight has 20 teams from every corner of the nation competing for the Scudetto. The clubs that finish in the league’s top six spots can compete in Europe. Meanwhile, the bottom three sides are automatically sent down to Serie B.
Like the Bundesliga, the Serie A is marked by the consistency of its champions. Only three teams have won more than ten titles out of the 16 sides that have won a championship in the Italian top flight.
Juventus is the most successful team in Serie A history, winning 36 Scudettos and 21 runners-up medals. They were especially unstoppable during the 2010s, winning every title from 2011/12 until 2019/20.
Inter Milan and AC Milan, the two Milanese giants, are the next two clubs with a stuffed trophy cabinet. Both teams have 19 trophies to their name. The trophy hasn’t left Milan in the past two seasons: the Nerazzurri won in 2020/21, while the Rossoneri got their latest trophy in 2021/22.
Other Serie A winners include Genoa, Torino, Bologna, Roma, Napoli, and Lazio.
During the 2010s, it was clear that Juventus was the king of Italian football. Aside from winning almost every scudetto of the decade, they featured some of the best players in the world. Cristiano Ronaldo was an incredibly colossal acquisition by the team in the decade’s latter half.
However, the status quo changed once the new decade rolled in. Inter won the first title of the decade, followed by AC Milan. In the 2022/23 season, Napoli, Lazio, Milan, Inter, Roma, and Atalanta are all putting up solid performances.
Meanwhile, Juventus is stumbling out of the gates. While they’re still at the top half of the table, they’re finding it difficult to compete for the scudetto that they have become so used to winning.
Of course, the decade is still far from over, so the Old Lady can turn things around. However, it’s becoming difficult to predict who is the top team in Serie A.
Ask a crowd of football fans who is the best Serie A player of all time, and you’ll likely get varying answers. These people have different standards on who they consider as the man who perfectly encapsulates what Serie A is about.
Some will argue that it’s Paolo Maldini. The legendary AC Milan defender played all his 647 league games with the Rossoneri, spanning three decades. He won 23 trophies during his time at the San Siro, winning almost every possible competition he participated in.
Others will argue for Diego Maradona. He spent most of his ten years in Europe with Napoli, scoring 81 goals and providing 19 assists in 187 Serie A games. Many consider him among the best attackers to grace the Italian top flight.
Others will consider Francesco Totti, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gianluigi Buffon, or Fabio Cannavaro the ultimate Serie A player. However, all these players have been impactful during their time in the league to be considered in the conversation.
Compared to the other leagues on this list, Ligue 1 has the unfortunate reputation of being a farm league for a specific club. However, it’s produced extraordinary moments with the quality of players they’ve developed.
Competition is tight in the French top flight, with only two clubs assured entry to the Champions League group stage. The third-placed team must go through the Champions League qualifiers, while the league’s fourth- and fifth-placed teams must be satisfied with the Europa League and Conference League qualifiers, respectively.
You’ll notice plenty of great attackers plying their trade in France when you’ve watched a couple of French top-flight games. With this wealth of talent, you may have wondered who is the best striker in Ligue 1.
In the 2022/23 season, three of the most recognizable strikers suit up for Paris Saint-Germain. Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar are all dangerous attackers, and each has unique skills that make them tough to mark.
However, other clubs also have brilliant strikers. Jonathan David, Alexandre Lacazette, Wissam Ben Yedder, and Folarin Balogun are some of the most prolific scorers not playing for Les Parisiens.
The league has also seen plenty of outstanding goalscorers over the years. Among them are Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Pauleta, and Jean-Pierre Papin.
It can become tempting to question the query’s context if you ask what the best team in Ligue 1 is. While there’s one easy answer, the history books will point to a different club.
Marseille is one of the most iconic clubs in Europe, and they already have ten league titles to their name. Saint-Etienne is another club with a rich history since it also has ten league titles under its belt.
Other teams that have historically performed well in Ligue 1 include AS Monaco, Girondins Bordeaux, FC Nantes, and Lille OSC.
However, the current best club in the French top flight is PSG. The club continues to dominate thanks to an injection of cash from its wealthy owners. This injection allowed them to purchase the best players and coaches to lead them to domestic dominance.
Finding a list of Ligue 1 teams is easy. However, these lists must be constantly updated as four teams get relegated to Ligue 2 at the end of every season. The league will look different the following season as four teams climb from the top of Ligue 2.
However, you can be sure that the most prominent clubs will always be there. PSG, Lille, Monaco, Saint-Etienne, Marseille, and Nice will stay on top unless they go through a catastrophic run of losses that cost them their position in the league.
The Champions League is a yearly tournament for the best teams in Europe. Winners and other top teams are allowed to compete for the Champions League trophy.
All of the leagues mentioned above get slots in the group stages. Winners from other UEFA member leagues must go through the qualifiers to win their group-stage tickets.
When you’re trying to identify which is number 1 in the Champions League group stage, it’s easy to figure out. Any club from the top European leagues are immediate favorites to make it out of their group stages.
However, the question becomes more complicated when discussing the knockout stages. Tactics, players, form, and injuries can affect how a game pans out.
Real Madrid is the king of lifting the Champions League if we’re talking about history. Los Blancos won the prestigious tournament an incredible 14 times. Barcelona only won the tournament five times. AC Milan has seven, and Liverpool’s Champions League trophy cabinet has six.
You may have wondered about who is the most successful Champions League player. Since plenty of sides have gotten multiple titles, it’s easy to assume that players have achieved multiple titles.
Since Real Madrid won an incredible number of Champions League titles, a former Los Blancos player has won the most titles in his playing career. You wouldn’t be wrong, since the list includes a lot of Real Madrid players. Notable players include Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco, Casemiro, Karim Benzema, and Toni Kroos.
However, all of them only have five titles to their name. Paco Gento, a Real Madrid player who played during the fifties and sixties, has the most Champions League winners medals with six.
Regarding football, the FIFA World Cup has always been the gold standard. It’s the biggest international competition that happens every four years, where the best teams in the world compete to lift the Coupe du Monde.
It’s a fun contest to watch and bet on since even the biggest underdogs can take down the heavy favorites. The 2022 World Cup is an excellent example, as many of the expected favorites left the competition earlier than expected.
It’s hard to say who is the number 1 nation in the FIFA men’s rankings. While the World Cup clearly impacts who gets the top rank, other factors influence whether a specific nation will be crowned as the team to beat.
There have been instances where the top nation in the world didn’t even participate in the World Cup finals. For example, Brazil was the top-ranked team in April 2023 but failed to make the finals in Qatar.
However, any nation ranked within the Top 10 is considered a favorite to win the competition by the time it rolls around.
You may have heard that the FIFA World Cup will be changing things up for the 2026 tournament. If you wonder how many teams are going to be in the FIFA World Cup, the quick answer is 48.
The number of qualified nations can be shocking to World Cup purists, who may have gotten used to the 32-team tournament. Some may even call this a money grab by the sport’s top authority.
However, the pool was expanded to ensure that as many deserving nations get a chance to shine on the global stage. The previous World Cup saw many surprising absences, and the expanded format helps with their chances to compete for the World Cup.
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