As the 2021-2022 football season comes to an end, the classic question arises again: which European championship is the most difficult to win? Sports fans are known for debating to the extreme, and it seems like everyone and their moms have an opinion on the game. Here’s mine.
For those who don’t know, the top five European leagues are the Premier League in England, La Liga in Spain, Serie A in Italy, Bundesliga in Germany and Ligue 1 in France. To determine which league is the most difficult to play in, I will look at how each league’s teams have performed in European competitions, as well as analyzing this season’s title race for each league.
The first indicator is the ranking that the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) assigns to each country. UEFA governs football in Europe and organizes competitions such as the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and the newly created Conference League.
These competitions bring together teams from Europe’s top divisions and pit them against each other in a tournament consisting of a group stage followed by a knockout stage. Winning these competitions not only gives bragging rights, but also provides significant financial benefits to teams.
UEFA determines its ranking through a points system that it uses for its European competitions. He awards points for wins in the group stage, winning the entire group and advancing far into the knockout bracket.
After these points are counted for each team, the total points are divided by the number of teams competing in each league. This gives an average score to each country, which UEFA calls a coefficient. The total score adds up the coefficients of the last five years to determine the number of places each league receives.
Based on the five-year coefficients, England is currently in first place, followed by Spain, Italy, Germany and finally France. Over the past five years, English and Spanish sides have made up eight of the last 10 Champions League and Europa League winners, with Bayern Munich and Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt taking the bottom two spots.
Looking at the coefficients for this year alone, England is first, followed by the Netherlands, then Spain, France, Germany and Italy. Surprisingly, the Netherlands have the second highest league coefficient due to the performances of teams like Feyenoord and Ajax, but their recent historical performance does not give much reason to believe that they are in competition with the other leagues .
These rankings give a good idea of how the teams in each league compare to each other: the English and Spanish teams make deep runs in the competitions, while – with a few exceptions – the German, French and Italian teams mostly struggled.
Looking at each league’s national standings also gives insight into each league’s competitiveness. The Premier League title race unfolded on the final day, with Manchester City taking first place from Liverpool by a single point. The case was similar in Italy, with AC Milan claiming a victory on the final day to become champions of rivals Internazionale by just two points. This new success of the Milan teams is a change from the dominance of Juventus, who had previously won nine consecutive winners’ medals.
In Germany, Spain and France, the title was decided several weeks before the last day of the season, with point spreads of eight, 13 and 15 points, respectively. This year in Spain, Real Madrid were by far the most dominant team. Usually, however, the title race is much tighter, with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid being the only title winners for the past five years.
The same cannot be said of Germany and France; in the former, Bayern Munich won 10 straight titles and France’s Paris Saint Germain (PSG) bounced back from a disappointing campaign last year to claim their eighth title in the last 10 seasons.
Statistics from around the last five years show that the English and Spanish leagues are by far the most competitive domestically and have the most successful clubs in Europe. The competition’s recent rise in Italy is exciting, while in Germany and France no one seems able to knock Bayern or PSG off their respective thrones, making both of these leagues virtually uncompetitive.
UEFA’s coefficient system is perfect, with the Premier League being the most competitive league, followed by La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and finally Ligue 1.