Best Soccer Leagues In The World [2017 Edition]

By | Last updated June 29, 2016
Best Soccer Leagues In The World

Deciding which are the best soccer leagues in the World is not easy.

Everyone sees things differently. It’s hard to reach a consensus.

Using statistical data would definitely make our lives easier. But numbers are just too cold to express feelings.

That’s precisely the point:
Feelings are, undoubtedly, what’s behind the beauty of the game of soccer.
Even so, we’ve used several factors and indicators to help us to do the job.

I’ll be showing you which are the top 10 best football championships in the Globe and explaining you why.

Top 10 World’s Best Soccer Leagues

To come up with this list we mixed tangible information with subjective factors like: talent production, quality of the matches, overall quality of the squads, players, coaches and stadiums, number of goals scored, championship structure, level of competitiveness and unpredictability, atmosphere, personal opinions; all of these sort of things were considered.

Without further delay here are the Top 10 Best Soccer Leagues in the World.

#CountryLeague Name
1EnglandEnglish Premier League
2SpainLa Liga
3GermanyBundesliga
4ItalySerie A
5FranceLigue 1
6PortugalPrimeira Liga
7BrazilBrasileirão
8ArgentinaArgentine Primera División
9RussiaRussian Football Premier League
10MexicoLiga MX

#10. Liga MX

With a very high attendance rate, Liga MX — the Mexican football league — is one of the greatest in the World.

There aren’t that many famous players although, truth be told, many are definitely underrated.

The game quality is amazing and might even surprise you. Several matches have high intensity that suddenly becomes really vibrant and filled with emotion with awesome plays and cracking goals.

#9. Russian Football Premier League

Strong teams like CSKA, Spartak, Lokomotiv and Zenit offer a lot of competitiveness to the Russian Football Premier League (RFPL). Although Russian clubs don’t usually make it that far on international competitions, RFPL’s matches are quite interesting and enjoyable to follow.

There are millions to be spent in getting international stars, but recent changes in regulations imposed a limit on the number of non-Russian footballers per team that are allowed to play simultaneously. This measure is aimed at protecting local players in order to improve the quality of Russia’s national football team.

#8. Argentine Primera División

Like Brazil, Argentina’s national football team is also one of the most powerful teams.

It’s no wonder then that the Argentinian domestic league keeps a countless number of promising stars and is the origin of legendary footballers like Diego Armando Maradona, Gabriel Batistuta, Di Stéfano, Kun Agüero and, of course, Lionel Messi.

Boca Juniors and River Plate bring a ton of rivalry to the championship making it even more interesting and… truly insane! Let’s not forget other great sides like Estudiantes, Racing Club, Banfield, Independiente, San Lorenzo, Lánus and Newell’s Old Boys.

Attending a live Argentine Primera División match is undoubtedly a lifetime experience. The boiling and, many times, dangerous atmosphere is definitely hard to forget.

#7. Campeonato Brasileiro de Futebol (Brasileirão)

Brazil has always been one of best countries in the World when it comes to football. Its national team is the most successful squad at FIFA World Cup tournaments and the only one to have won 5 titles.

Recent venues built for the 2014 World Cup dramatically improved the quality of the games both for spectators and players. You would be right to expect great goals and plays, stars with magic on their feet and good matches in the Brasileirão, including new promising footballers.

There’s something about the mentality of club managers that needs to be addressed, though. Coaches rarely start and finish a full season in the same club. Some only last for a few weeks before being sacked.

Since there are a lot of games to be played (across many different competitions), Brazilian teams don’t have enough time for proper training and to improve their overall game tactics. This certainly doesn’t make managers’ lives any easier which, in turn, lessens the competitiveness of the league itself.

#6. Primeira Liga

The Portuguese Primeira Liga features three major clubs – known as the “Big Three”: SL Benfica, FC Porto and Sporting CP who are permanently fighting for the first position.

Despite the competitiveness among them, the overall squad quality is not very impressive if we look at the rest of the first division clubs. There is a tremendous lack of money to signing in new players and stars due to the country’s financial and economic difficulties; plus TV rights deals are far to providing as impressive amounts of cash as in other European leagues.

Nonetheless, there are always surprises during the season and some stronger sides are starting to emerge (such as SC Braga and Vitória SC). New youth players (homegrown or international) appear when least expected and bring excitement and play quality to the matches. This is where Portuguese clubs excel: their scouting departments are able to find young foreign players at low prices who are then grown in the Primeira Liga and sold by millions of Euros to richer teams a few months/years later.

Portugal has produced some of best soccer players in the World over the years — there’s no need in referring names like Cristiano Ronaldo, Luís Figo, Rui Costa, Vítor Baía or Eusébio that have amazed millions of spectators across the Globe — and the Primeira Liga was their birth place. Don’t be surprised to see many more future football legends coming from the Portuguese domestic league.

Portugal has also produced exquisite coaches such as José Mourinho, Jorge Jesus, Marco Silva, Leonardo Jardim and André Villas Boas. That’s probably why Portuguese teams often surprise big teams at international level.

#5: Ligue 1

Ligue 1 Pros

  • Competitiveness. The French Ligue 1 has been a very competitive championship for a long time (despite Olympique Lyonnais’s dominancy during Juninho Pernambucano’s era and the club’s talent production golden age — from 2002 to 2008 Lyon won 7 championship titles in a row). Competitiveness between non-title contenders continues to be high.
  • Cradle of rising stars. The Ligue 1 is the cradle of many rising stars that later excel in the French national team. Talent production has always been a guarantee in the French domestic league. Monaco’s Kylian Mbappé is the latest and greatest example.
  • Star players like Marco Verratti, Ángel Di María, Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Gonçalo Guedes, João Moutinho and others attract a lot of attention to the French league.
  • Unpredictability is back. PSG’s dominancy in recent years made Ligue 1 less interesting, but Monaco was able to surprise everyone and won the 2016-17 French title.

Ligue 1 Cons

  • Loss of parity. Uncertainty about which team would be crowned champion had always been high, but when clubs like Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) or Monaco were bought by millionaires, parity between French title contenders started to vanish. While Monaco saw a disinvestment in past few years, PSG continued to build a stronger and more balanced squad.

    The Parisian side now usually leads the championship with dozens of points ahead of the pack and became the French chronic league winner. This made Ligue 1 a less interesting football league to follow when compared to some years ago. (This might be over, though. Read the bullet point above entitled “Unpredictability is back”.)

#4: Serie A

Serie A Pros

  • Great Sides. Despite the decrease in purchasing power of its major teams, Serie A — the Italian soccer league — remains strong and features great sides like Juventus, AC Milan, Inter, Roma, Fiorentina, Lazio and Napoli among others. These are tough teams to beat at international level.
  • Legendary players. The Italian soccer — known as Calcio — has always produced players of outstanding quality that have had long-lasting careers. We can think of AC Milan’s lifelong captain Paolo Maldini, Juventus’ forever-young goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, Roma’s former striker and captain Totti, just to name a few.
  • Ageless footballers. Footballers in Italy are truly ageless. Coaches don’t mind their players’ birth date as long as they are fit — which is a question of honor for an Italian professional soccer player — and still capable of performing at their highest level. Buffon is still one of the best goalkeepers in the World even at an age around 40 years old.
  • Tactical side of the game. While many people may call it “boring”, others see it as “enlightening”. I’m referring to how super-tactical matches can be in Serie A.

    If a coach succeeds is mastering the tactical side of the beautiful game in Italy then he/she will definitely succeed anywhere else. There’s simply no other championship where tactics are so important and well-developed like in Italy. Some matches are true chess games.

  • Italian national team is inspiring. There’s a particularly old “habit” concerning the Italian national team. They usually start their international tournament campaigns (World Cups and Euros) in a poor fashion. But then they generally make it to the knockout stages and go far in those competitions.

    That could also be the case with Italian clubs in European club competitions. No matter how (bad) they start what matters is how they finish them.

Serie A Cons

  • Economic difficulties in Italy. Serie A has been down in the past few years mainly due to great economic difficulties in the country. The obvious loss in purchasing power made Calcio clubs lower their investment in new international players which translates to poorer squad quality across the teams.
  • Sporting crisis. Some of Serie A’s major clubs (like AC Milan and Inter) have been facing a sporting crisis for a long period which is stopping them from competing against Juventus for the scudetto (championship title).
  • Super Juventus. The biggest club from the city of Torino is back at its fullest strength (after being depromoted as a punishment for their involvement in the Calciopoli scandal). They have won the last (6) Serie A titles and seem fairly unbeatable; this reduces the interest in following the Italian domestic football.

#3: Bundesliga

Bundesliga

The Bundesliga — “national league” in English — is Germany’s professional association football league. It is contested by 18 teams on a promotion and relegation system and the domestic soccer league with the highest average stadium attendance.

Bundesliga Pros

  • One of the World’s most powerful clubs. The Bundesliga has one of the World’s best soccer teams: Bayern Munich. The Bavarian giants are always the strongest title contender in Germany and one of the most serious candidates to winning the UEFA Champions League.
  • Great teams. Other Bundesliga title contenders are clearly not as strong as Bayern Munich but, nevertheless, are still successful clubs. Among them we have Borussia Dortmund and Shalke 04. Hertha BSC, Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen — just to name a few of them — are also good teams.

    The season of 2016-17 has also revealed RB Leipzig has a new emerging surprise which quickly became a sensation. They are owned by a famous beverage brand that promises to take the club to the top.

  • Star players. The Bundesliga features great players such as Thomas Müller, Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, Arturo Vidal, Renato Sanches, Raphaël Guerreiro, Manuel Neuer, Marco Reus, Mario Götze, Mats Hummels, Pierre Aubameyang, André Schürrle, Benedikt Höwedes, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and many others.
  • Attendance. Attendance in Bundesliga matches is as high as it gets with fans taking much pride in their clubs and offering amazing support to their teams.
  • Stadiums. Soccer stadiums in Germany are of top-notch quality, which a Bundesliga standard. Most of the stadiums hold between 30,000 to 60,000 spectators with five venues holding more than sixty thousand people. Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena (75,000 seating capacity) and Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park –- the well-known Westfalenstadion — (81,000 seating capacity) are Bundesliga’s biggest stadiums.
  • Talent production. After failing shamelessly during the Euro 2000 competition where Germany’s national soccer team (best-known as Mannschaft) finished last in its group, the Deutscher Fussball-Bund (DFB; Germany’s national association football federation) implemented a new set of rules aimed at finding and growing local talent. All clubs were required to have a youth academy and DFB itself took care of identifying homegrown players that might have been missed in the years before the new implementations.

    The outcome of this new system was the appearing of world-class players like Thomas Müller, Marco Reus, Mario Götze, Mezut Ozil, Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and many more.

    It eventually led to the victory in the 2014 World Cup for the German side and the overall higher quality of the Bundesliga’s club squads, where new stars arise every day.

Bundesliga Cons

  • Unstoppable Bayern. Much like in La Liga and Serie A, Bayern Munich is Germany’s strongest team and seems unbeatable. The Munichians won the last five Bundesliga titles and seem to be the most equipped team to win again this year.

    The fact brings less uncertainty to the German league making it a bit less interesting to watch.

#2: La Liga

La Liga

The Primera División – best-known as La Liga — is the primary professional soccer competition in Spain and administrated by the LFP (Liga de Fútbol Profesional). It is contested by 20 teams on a promotion and relegation system.

La Liga Pros

  • World’s best soccer clubs. The Spanish association football league — known as La Liga — features the two best clubs in the World: Real Madrid and Barcelona. Real Madrid was voted the Best Club of the 20th Century by FIFA. Barcelona has been recurrently considered the best team in the World.
  • Best soccer players in the World. If we only mention Real Madrid and Barcelona we’ll find galactic players like: Cristiano Ronaldo (4 times Ballon d’Or winner), French super striker Karim Benzema, Welsh speedster Gareth Bale and German midfield dynamo Toni Kroos for the Blancos.

    And extraterrestrial individuals like: Lionel Messi (5 Ballon d’Or awards), Brazilian wonder boy Neymar Jr., Uruguayan fearless striker Luis Suárez and Spanish magician Andrés Iniesta for the Blaugrana side.

  • Several great teams. We have Atlético de Madrid coming in from behind and trying to steal the title from the other two with a team that doesn’t stop fighting much like its coach Diego Simeone when was a player.
  • Several exciting teams follow along and may even surprise the top title contenders. Sevilla and Villareal are the best examples. (Valencia used to be on top too but lately their team has been facing some performance difficulties.)
  • Ronaldo vs. Messi. There is another contest inside the championship league title fight. It is just as interesting — some people would say that it is “even more interesting to follow” – as the championship title contest itself. The clash between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the recognition as the best soccer player worldwide, which is “translated” as awarding one of them the desired Ballon d’Or award and/or FIFA’s “The Best” award.

    These two true aliens keep pushing each other to break their own boundaries and go beyond their limits. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi alone are so out-of-this-world footballers they can do practically anything they please with a soccer ball.

    It’s hard to name the best soccer player in the World between the two. But why waste your time discussing it when you can rather just enjoy watching them play and do wonders on the playing field?

La Liga Cons

  • Huge gap between clubs. La Liga has plenty of awesome matches but there’s clearly a huge gap between the top 2-3 clubs and the rest of the championship teams. Real Madrid and Barcelona (and even Atlético de Madrid) are on a different stage above and beyond the rest of the crowd. Which decreases the competitiveness level of the Spanish domestic soccer league.

#1: English Premier League

English Premier League

The Premier League — also know as Premiership — is a professional association football league. It’s England’s top football championship and is contested by 20 clubs — including those from Wales that compete in the English soccer league system.

Its origins go back to 1888 when it was founded as the Football League. On February 20, 1992 it was reformed as the FA Premier League per decision of the First Division clubs to take advantage of a millionaire TV broadcasting deal. The English Premier League is the most-watched sports competition in the world with a potential television audience of 4.7 billion people.

English Premier League Pros

  • Household names. Historical clubs like Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton with several English League titles won bring the World’s attention to the EPL.
  • Emerging teams. New clubs are growing bigger, becoming more important — much because of their new billionaire owners — and winning championship titles more often in recent years like Chelsea FC and Manchester City.
    Any club can literally beat any club in the English Premier League
  • Competitiveness. Any club can literally beat anybody in the English Premier League (EPL). There is no such thing as a pre-announced victory by the supposedly stronger side.
  • Teams’ parity. The real value on the playing field of all the teams is fairly similar which makes it a much more balanced championship than the rest and practically anyone can end up holding the championship trophy. The best example? Leicester FC who won the Premier League in 2015-16. If you think that was a one-time event, check out this list of the English football champions and be surprised.
  • International talent. Money is something that surely isn’t lacking for the wealthy English championship clubs. Million pound broadcasting contracts fill up their safes which allows them to invest more in signing better players.
  • Play mentality. The English Premier League is probably the best soccer league in the World due to its unmatched play mentality. Games are only really finished when referees whistle their final whistle. Until then there’s a fearless fight for the final victory.
  • Atmosphere. The atmosphere in the EPL stadiums is simply outstanding. Awesome venues provide the best scenario for the greatest and most exciting matches.
  • Supporters. British supporters are unique in that they never stop cheering, singing and applauding for their clubs.
  • Fair-play. Both players and supporters know when their opponents perform better and are worthy winners. It is not uncommon to see supporters from one team applauding the opponent side when the matches reach their end.

Measurable & Not So Measurable Indicators

Like stated before, you can take into consideration a ton of indicators to come up with your list of the top domestic football championships.

While some indicators may come from actual data like:

  • Spectators attendance
  • Number of goals scored in a season
  • Parity between the league teams (measurable by the point difference between the champion and the last placed side)
  • Discipline (number of red cards seen)

Others bring a lot more subjectivity to the table:

  • Quality of the teams (across the distinct leagues)
  • Level of rivalry between the most-known clubs
  • Overall game quality
  • Level of the players

That’s not all, though.

You should also acknowledge that each and every one of those factors may have unpaired degrees of importance.

What’s more important to me might not be as important to you.
E.g.: Some people might love the tactical aspect of the Italian Calcio, while others might prefer South American soccer’s impetuousness and endless battles.

Conclusion

We’ve listed our top 10 football domestic leagues and explained the positive and negative sides of each of those competitions.

Picking out the best soccer leagues in the World is very subjective, as you might have expected.

There are a ton of factors and stats into the mix, like personal preferences and patriotisms, that may influence the final list.

Besides that, domestic championships across the Planet keep changing and what’s ranking #1 today might not be in the future and vice-versa. A fine example is MLS. The American soccer championship is growing up fast and set to become one of the most interesting ones.

Your Thoughts & Comments

What do you think of our top 10? What’s your opinion?
Do you agree or completely disagree?
List your own top 10 leagues in our comment section below.

We’ll love to read what you have to say.

I thank you and hope you’ve enjoyed reading this through,
— Mike