If you’re starting to take an interest in football (or soccer), you need to understand a bit about how European football works. You need to know about the top leagues, competitions and clubs. It can be a lot to take on board if you’re a complete newcomer to all this. But the information you’ll find below is all very easy to understand and digest.
Read on now to start learning everything you need to know about European football. Before you know it, you’ll be a bastion of knowledge, and you’ll understand all there to know about how football works in Europe.
The Big Four
The first of the big four leagues in Europe right now is the Premier League. This is where all the money is, and it’s where many of the best players around can be found. Chelsea lifted the trophy this year, after a shock season in which Leicester City were crowned champions.
Despite all the hype behind the Premier League, many still argue that Spain’s La Liga is where true quality can be found. This is where Europe’s two biggest teams play: Real Madrid and Barcelona. As well as the two biggest names: Ronaldo and Messi. However, is the rest of the league competitive enough?
In Germany, Bayern Munich have been dominant for some time. Even without Pep Guardiola, who last year moved to Man City as manager, the club seems as strong as ever. RB Leipzig are strong, and Dortmund are still up there, so betting on German football can be fun. But in truth, no one can get near Bayern.
Finally, there is is Italy’s Serie A. Back in the 90s, Italy was one of the best leagues around. You had Lazio, Roma, Inter, AC Milan and Juventus all fighting for the title. These days, Juventus are dominant and some of the others are struggling, but it’s still a fun domestic league to follow.
Other Footballing Nations to Be Aware Of
Outside of the top four nations in European football, there are plenty of others that are worth being aware of. For a start, we shouldn’t leave out France. The French Ligue 1 has been considered less worthy than the big four for some time now. But it is growing in stature thanks to the growth of teams like AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain. They’ve proven that they’re capable of competing with the best.
Portugal has not seen much success in the last few years. But we shouldn’t forget that the Portuguese leagues have given us the world’s best player in Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as one of its best managers, Jose Mourinho. It wasn’t so long ago that Porto lifted the Champions League, and the country’s national team won Euro 2016 last year too.
The Dutch leagues have some top teams to be aware of too. Ajax are on the rise once more, and they were runners up in this year’s Europa League competition. And they didn’t even manage to win the Dutch domestic league, finishing a point behind Feyenoord and five points above PSV Eindhoven.
There are two main club competitions that bring together teams from across the continent. The first is the Europa League (formerly known as the UEFA Cup), and the biggest is the Champions League. Teams qualify by finishing near the top of their respective leagues or winning domestic cup competitions.
Before each tournament starts properly, there are some qualifying rounds. Then a group stage is reached where each group comprises of four teams. And the top two teams make it through to the knockout rounds, which progress until the final is reached.
The most recent Europa League competitions saw Manchester United lift the trophy. But for three consecutive years before that, Sevilla won the competition, making the the team with the most winner’s trophies with five in total.
Real Madrid have won the Champions League for the last two years. And they are also the team that has won the competition the most times in total, lifting the trophy 12 times. It’s one of the most prestigious sporting competitions in the world, and has been around since 1955. And which team one it in that first year? That’s right; it was Real Madrid.
When it comes to international football, the ground is always shifting. For example, and the last international European Championships, Portugal were the winners. But just a few years before that, they were seen as a one-man team; that many being Ronaldo. In terms of the FIFA world rankings, Germany is still the best international team in Europe.
Four of the past five World Cup winners have been European teams. These are Germany, Spain, Italy and France. But no other European nation has one the competition since England did back in 1966. The next World Cup is just a year away, so it remains to be seen whether a European nation can be triumphant for a fourth World Cup in a row.