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Five Best Soccer Leagues in the World

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English Premier League trophy.

English Premier League trophy.

Best Soccer Leagues Worth Following

Soccer is a global sport with players from every country and leagues in almost as many. With so many leagues to choose from, it can be hard for the average soccer fan to find a few favorites. To help you find the best soccer leagues, I have made a list of the five best soccer leagues to follow from around the world.

In many countries, soccer is more commonly referred to as football. In this article I will refer to association football as soccer for simplicity and because that’s what I grew up calling it.

I chose these leagues based on several factors, not just official rankings, fans, or world recognition. These are the five top leagues that offer great action and entertainment. I have also included four additional leagues that just barely missed the list. This is written to encourage soccer fans to explore other fantastic leagues around the world!

Now, the best soccer leagues around the world are in no particular order. Enjoy the beautiful game!

The Top Five Soccer Leagues

  1. English Premier League
  2. Serie A
  3. La Liga
  4. Bundesliga
  5. Major League Soccer
English Premier League logo

English Premier League logo

1. English Premier League

The English Premier League (EPL) is the top tier league in England boasting widely known teams such as Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, and many other popular teams.

Some of the world’s best players are playing in the English Premier League. A few of my favorite players to watch here include Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and, of course, Americans Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard.

The EPL runs from August through May, providing nearly year-round entertainment. And what great entertainment it is! The matches are usually filled with skill, action, drama, and surprises. By the end of the season, you’ll be sitting on the edge of your seat cheering your team on and hoping for victory.

The English Premier League is broadcast all over the world. In America, it is aired through NBC Sports.

This league is one of my top favorites not only because of the level of play, but also because the long history of the league dates back many, many years. The fans and the stadiums are always impressive and it makes the games that much more exciting when the buzz of the cheering crowd is heard throughout a match. You can read more information on why this league is awesome with this article that argues that the EPL is the best in the world.

2. Serie A in Italy

Serie A is the Italian soccer league that contains the best teams in Italy. Inter Milan, Juventus, and AC Milan are a few of the well-known teams in the league.

The players in this league are some of the finest in the world. A few of the most notable players include Wesley Sneijder, Gianluigi Buffon, Daniele De Rossi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as well as American Michael Bradley.

The Serie A season runs during the same time most other leagues play, including the English Premier League. It begins in September and concludes in May the following year.

My favorite team when I was growing up was AC Milan. I loved watching them play because of the players on the team, particularly Ricardo Kaka.

Unfortunately for Serie A, they seem to always have a bit of controversy in the air. They had a big match-fixing scandal in 2006 that is still hanging over the league today. Let’s hope they can clear their problems and just play great soccer.

Spanish La Liga logo

Spanish La Liga logo

3. Spanish La Liga

The Primera División in Spain, but better known as La Liga to English speakers, is the top Spanish football league. It has been in existence since the late 1920s and still includes three teams today who have never been knocked out of the league.

La Liga is best known for two powerhouse teams that in recent years have dominated not only this league but other club tournaments throughout Europe.

Real Madrid and Barcelona contain arguably the best players in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi respectively. The 2011–2012 season saw both men break the league record for most goals in a season, but Messi ended up topping Ronaldo’s impressive 46 goals by scoring an incredible 50 goals, the current seasonal league record. Besides these players, each squad is brimming with superstars too many to mention here.

Barcelona has won the championship in La Liga 25 times. They have won the title for multiple years in a row on a few occasions. However, Real Madrid has won the championship 33 times.

The season runs at the same time as the EPL and Serie A. It is broadcasted on beIN Sports in the United States. I enjoy watching La Liga because of the incredible players on Barcelona and Real Madrid. It is not uncommon to see scores of 5-0 or even 8-0 in some games.

German Bundesliga Logo

German Bundesliga Logo

4. German Bundesliga

The Bundesliga is Germany’s primary soccer league. Although formed relatively recently in 1963, it boasts incredible fan support. It saw a record level of fan attendance with an average of over 45,000 fans in each game during the 2011–2012 season.

The Bundesliga has traditionally been dominated by FC Bayern Munich. They have recently won the championship six years in a row.

While Bayern Munich is made up of at least 7 German national team players, the Bundesliga includes other world-class players such as Robben, Ribery, Huntelaar, and several American team members.

The season runs from August through May, following a similar schedule as many other European leagues.

I enjoy the Bundesliga because of strong players, passionate fans, and packed stadiums. The games tend to be very competitive and exciting, making it one of the best leagues every soccer fan should follow!

Major League Soccer Logo

Major League Soccer Logo

5. Major League Soccer in America

I know many will be confused or disagree, but as an American, Major League Soccer provides soccer action close at hand. MLS is the top soccer league in America. It was formed about 20 years ago to provide both players and fans professional soccer in the US.

While the league does not contain the same number of superstars as European leagues, it has included stars like David Beckham, Robbie Kean, Thierry Henry, and many Central American players as well as US National Team members.

Opposite most European leagues, the MLS season runs during the summer months, stretching from March through November. Some have wondered why the MLS would not follow the example of other leagues, but I believe it provides great summer entertainment while most other soccer leagues are on break.

In recent years, MLS has seen a rapidly increasing fan base in combination with new, soccer-specific stadiums throughout the country. These stadiums provide an incredible atmosphere during the games and, for any American soccer fan, is a must-visit.

MLS is one of the top leagues every soccer fan should follow because it has grown significantly in the last 15 years, and appears to be set to grow even more in the years to come.

How Many Soccer Leagues Are There in the World?

There are countless top-level leagues spread around the globe. There are likely hundreds if you include lower level professional leagues as well as semi-pro leagues. There are six continental confederations in FIFA, the international governing body of professional soccer. Here are just a few of the leagues across each confederation.

Asian Football Confederation

  • Saudi Professional League
  • Persian Gulf Pro League
  • Bangladesh Super League
  • Chinese Super League

Confederation of African Football

  • Botswana Premier League
  • Kenyan Premier League
  • Central African Republic League
  • Algerian Ligue Professionnelle 1

Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football

  • Liga MX
  • Jamaican National Premier League
  • Liga FPD (Costa Rica)
  • Liga Nacional (Honduras)

South American Football Confederation

  • Superliga Argentina
  • Bolivian Primera Division
  • Venezuelan Primera Division
  • Ecuadorian Serie A

Oceania Football Confederation

  • A-League (Australia/New Zealand)
  • New Zealand Football Championship
  • Telekom S-League (Solomon Islands)

Union of European Football Associations

  • Belgian First Division A
  • Superleague Greece
  • Danish Superliga
  • Russian Premier League

Honorable Mentions: 4 More Top Soccer Leagues

It is necessary to include several leagues that are very good but don't crack my top five. These organizations might be in the top five favorite leagues of another fan, so it is worth mentioning them for anyone interested.

The leagues are:

  • The Brasileirão in Brazil
  • Ligue 1 in France
  • Eredivisie in Holland
  • J.League in Japan

Almost every nation has its own soccer league, so there are plenty more leagues out there that are entertaining and full of drama and skill in their own way.

Hopefully, this will provide a wider picture for fans of the beautiful game to enjoy the sport in different locations and leagues around the world

What Are Your Top Five Favorite Soccer Leagues?

I will gladly admit that there are many more leagues around the world with top-level teams and players. These five leagues are my favorites and represent the leagues I believe every soccer fan should enjoy watching.

One league I feel is important to mention is the UEFA Champions League (UCL). Although I did not include it, it is one of my favorites for obvious reasons. If you don’t know much about that league, you should really look into it!

If I missed your favorite soccer league, mention it in a comment to share with others!

So what leagues do you follow? Post your top five leagues in the comments below!

© 2012 Peter V


ronakbhatia from Mumbai, India on January 30, 2014:

English Premier League takes the cake. Just look at how competitive it is. Rest are just two horse race.

pedro on January 03, 2014:

I agree with you but to be honest the Mexican league is better than the MLS may I remind no MLS team have ever won the concacaf champion league its always been a mexican team but I do agree that the MLS is growing rapidly but that due to the attention its receiving since it's a league in the untied states

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on April 09, 2013:

Nice list, but you have forgotten the MLS. I would agree with you, that the Champions League isn't really a league. This list is formed to encourage people towards watching the game, and in terms of great action, the CL is certainly near the top!

Bernie on April 09, 2013:

As a hardcore soccer fan for more than 40 years and who watches an average of 12 games a week , i have to say that based on quality , speed ,

emotion and number of international players the generally recognized list

is as follows :

1 Barclay's League (England )

2 La Liga ( Spain )

3 Serie A (Italy )

4 Bundsliga ( Germany )

5 Ligue 1 ( France )

6 Liga Sagres ( Portugal )

7 Eredivisie ( Netherlands )

8 ПРЕМЬЕР-ЛИГА (Russia )

9 Primera Division ( Mexico )

10 Super Lig ( Turkey )

11 Primera Division ( Argentina )

12 Brasileirao ( Brazil )

The Champions League is not really a league . It is a tournament that involves the top three teams in England , France , Germany , Italy and Spain . Portugal and Netherlands are allowed their top two teams and might be able to add a third team through a play off . Russia , Turkey , Ukraine and Greece are only allowed two teams and all the other European countries are only allowed one team . This is based on the current UEFA rankings and changes a bit every year depending how well the teams perform in the so called Champions and Europe Leagues . All these teams qualify to play in the Champions and Europe Leagues based on how they finished in their national leagues .

Daniel Martins on April 04, 2013:

One thing that makes the Brasileirao one of the best leagues to follow is the competitiveness: each year, about 10 clubs or so are almost equally likely to win the title. Take La Liga, for example, and you know that either Real or Barcelona will finish ahead, always -- and I find this very annoying. Also, there are a lot of world-class players that have toured the world and are now playing in Brazil (arguably a few years past their prime): Ronaldinho, Forlan, Deco, D'Alessandro, Luis Fabiano, Pato, not to mention Neymar. In my opinion, the Brasileirao should easily take the 5th spot from the MLS, maybe even neck-and-neck with the Bundesliga.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on December 12, 2012:

geminimishy - Yes, I'm not convinced the CL is a league, thus I didn't include it, although I made mention of it towards the end because it does have some of the best matches. Thanks for your comment!

M. Yepez from Norfolk, VA on December 12, 2012:

Not sure that I would call the CL a league but if you are, I would argue that it should be at the top of the list. Very nice article however.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on December 01, 2012:

thecollegeway - Yeah, the CL isn't exactly a league, which is why I didn't include it in the top 5, however I did mention it towards the end because it is an exciting league/tournament or whatever it really is. Thanks for your comment!

thecollegeway on November 30, 2012:

I would say the Champion's League should be considered more of a tournament. I know it has the word "League" in it, but as far as I am concerned it would be considered more of a tournament than a league. If you are considering it a league then it must place in the top five as it is arguably the most competitive "league" including the top teams from all around Europe playing in front of thousands and thousands of fans and viewers to try to win one of Europe's most lucrative trophies.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on July 26, 2012:

OutDaremagazine - Thanks for your response! Yes, teams have to play a lot of games! And the top players on many of these teams then play for their country at times as well! Recently, American Football players were complaining that playing 18 games in a season was too many. Ha, they need to look at other sports more often!

OutDaremagazine from United Kingdom on July 26, 2012:

InternPete, were these ranked in any kind of hierarchical order or just listed? Either way i did like your reasoning for each league. CL cannot be included because it is an amalgamation of the most successful teams in Europe based on prior standings in the domestic leagues the year before. The reason it is so spread out is due to the traveling involved (each team is home and away in both knockout and group stages and the teams are spread out across Europe spanning multiple time zones), the amount of games (I believe its 13 total if you make the final from start to finish which is far fewer compared to a domestic league with is around 34-38 depending on the league) and also because these games are in addition to all the other games the teams competing are obligated to.

For instance, as an example i will use Manchester United. They play 38 games in the Premier League, which is spread out over around 9 to 9 1/2 months. Then there is the domestic cup, the FA cup. This can be anywhere from 2-8 games spread out over the same period of time but obviously far less frequent on weekends specifically designated for FA cup games. In the quarters and semis these games actually DO conflict with PL games and are therefore either played during the week, or the PL game conflicting is moved to mid week (tues). Then there is the Carling cup. Another domestic competition with the same exact format as the FA cup. Successful teams in the CL will most likely get through to the round of 16 as the tournaments are random draws that include EVERY competitive team in England (4 divisions so around 80 teams.)

Then United have their european games. So in order to allow for conflicting schedules, fatigued players to get some rest and not play Sat-Wed-Sat, and to decrease the amount of time spent traveling to increase the amount of time spent training.

Hope this helps. Nice hub! I might argue MLS is not up there and that France still has a better league but i am encouraged by the growth in popularity in football in the US so i will agree with your assertion!!

Richard-Murray on June 24, 2012:


our right, and they play during the same seasonal time like MLS. Yet people on MLS say FIFA is concerned about the time of the league.

The Champions LEague plays more like a cup tournament. In truth it is a cup tournament. UEFA is making it bigger to make it more continuous throughout the domestic championship and domestic cup seasons

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on June 24, 2012:

Richard - Great points! You have a valid argument for including the Brasilerao in this list. However, it gets almost no coverage, especially in America where soccer doesn't get a lot of coverage anyway.

I do love watching the Champions League. The only part I don't like, and what makes it not seem like much of a league, is the time between games, at times nearly a month i think?

Thanks for your comment and opinions! And your idea (link) is great.

Richard-Murray on June 24, 2012:

The top 4 I can agree with but the Brasilerao has to be put into this mix. MLS is not a top 5 league, especially above the Brasilerao.

I am a hardcore DC United fan but MLS is not top 5. I would say MLS might be top five in continental America. behind Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico. I will give the fifth league spot to Uruguay.

As for the UEFA CL, it is a league but the European sense of the word league and the statian sense are very different. We call leagues here what they call championships. Our playoffs are what they would call leagues.

What do you think of my idea below?

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on June 23, 2012:

barry - Thanks for dropping by!

barry1001 from North Wales on June 23, 2012:

interesting, voted up.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on June 22, 2012:

mandarmk9 - Happy to provide the info on the MLS. I have followed it for nearly 10 years now, and it's changed a bit of that time! I agree, there is something great about the EPL. I watched every game broadcast in American on ESPN, and found them all entertaining. Thanks for you comment!

Mandar Karandikar from Ratlam, India on June 22, 2012:

Wonderful hub. I love EPL but really don't know the reason for. It produces fantastic football, and like it's mentioned creates amazing footballing drama.

Thanks for the info on MLS (never knew much about it). :)

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on June 22, 2012:

CCahill - Didn't think about it till recently, but the summer can be pretty sparse when the World Cup or Euro Cup is not on, that's where the MLS has a chance to get a few fans! Thanks for your comment!

CCahill from England on June 22, 2012:

I completely agree, need something to watch whilst the EPL is on a break!! the MLS is really getting better, might have to start watching it more

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on June 22, 2012:

jdmanista - Yeah, I agree with you. The UCL fantastic to watch. It is hard to say it is a league tho, as it is more like a season long club tournament. But I did mention it at the end, because it is amazing to watch and see the match ups. Thanks for your comment!

jdmanista from Ladera Ranch, CA on June 22, 2012:

I have become a much bigger fan of soccer over the last 2 years and have to say that the Champions League has to be listed in the top five, certainly ahead of the MLS. This is a league made up of the best teams in all the other leagues and has the best competition in the world. In many leagues around the world you will see a couple really strong teams dominate the field, take La Liga for instance, but teams have to qualify for the Champions League which makes it more likely to get a more even competition. You have certainly offered up the most popular leagues around the world, but for those that are looking for some real football to watch, I have to go with the UCL.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on June 22, 2012:

dinkan53 - Always fun to find another fan of AC Milan! I am sad to say I don't watch them as often as I used to, but perhaps i'll do more next season. I do find I enjoy following certain players more than teams or leagues sometimes. Thanks for your comment!

dinkan53 from India on June 22, 2012:

I am regular viewer of Serie A and a great fan of AC Milan. Once I was crazy about English Premier League when Chelsea was coached by Jose Mourinho. But after the move of Shevchenko and Jose Mourinho my interest gone somewhere. Good to view the list.