Understanding the World's Top Professional Soccer Leagues

Understanding the World's Top Professional Soccer Leagues

Just like any other sport, the world of soccer has more leagues than one can count. Whether you’re new to understanding the game or just want to brush up on your knowledge, we’re here to help you with the basics. Read on to learn all about the top professional leagues in soccer!

The five leagues covered below are known to many as the “Big Five” and are considered the best in the world. Each of these five leagues plays for its own cup, while also vying for qualification to compete in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. Though the leagues are similar in that they are all governed by the UEFA, each has a distinct structure and point criteria. In Europe, teams move between the levels of their league through promotion and relegation at the end of each season. This means a set number of teams at the bottom end of a division will move down, and those at the top will move up. To qualify for the UEFA Champions League the number of teams from each association depends on their assigned coefficient. The higher the coefficient, the more teams get to attend from that league.

1. Premier League

One of the most popular leagues, the English Premier League (EPL) is home to some of the most well-known teams, players, and stadiums in world soccer. The league consists of 20 teams in England that compete between August and May for the Premier League title. To win the title, you must accumulate the most points in a system where three points are awarded for a win, one point for a draw, and zero for a defeat. This is the general point system for the other major leagues; however, the points for draws may vary. The teams who finish in the top four qualify for the Champions League group stages (with a maximum of five EPL teams qualifying), and fifth and sixth have the opportunity to compete in the Europa League.

2. Bundesliga

The Bundesliga is Germany’s premier soccer league. It consists of 18 of the country’s top soccer teams all competing for the Meisterschale, also known as the Champions Shield. Since the Bundesliga only consists of 18 teams, there are a total of 34 matches each – two against each team, one home and one away. The top four teams are all assured qualification to the Champions League group stages, with fifth and sixth having access to Europa League.

3. La Liga

Considered one of the world’s most technical soccer leagues, the La Liga is Spanish Soccer’s top league. The division consists of 20 clubs and has come to be strongly represented by Real Madrid & Barcelona. The top four teams in the league qualify for the Champions League group stage with fifth & sixth to Europa League.

4. Serie A

Serie A represents the top level of the Italian soccer league system. The league consists of anywhere between 16 to 21 teams all competing for the Coppa Campioni d’Italia. The top three teams in Serie A qualify for the Champions League (one place always goes to the winner of the Coppa Italia) and the teams placed third to sixth will also get a chance to play in European cups.

5. Ligue 1

Ligue 1 is the French professional league for France’s top clubs. Just like the EPL, La Liga and Serie A, the league consists of 20 clubs competing between August and May and playing a total of 38 games each. The winner of Ligue 1 wins the L’Hexagoal trophy, and the top three teams qualify for the Champions League group stages, while fourth and fifth go to Europa League.

Other Leagues you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Major League Soccer (MLS) – Teams from United States and Canada
  • Primeira Liga – Portuguese Clubs
  • Scottish Premiership – Top division for Scottish Clubs
  • Eredivisie – Professional League in the Netherlands
  • Brasileirao – Brazil’s top professional league

Overall, yes, the world of soccer is quite complicated as every country has their own rules and ways of playing the game. All in all, each team simply wants to win their league and gain European qualification. The more silverware, the better!

Head to SoccerCards.ca to find cards and stickers representing each of the Big Five leagues and start collecting today!


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