Happy August y’all! While I’m sure we’ll get plenty of league previews in the next week or so, I figured I’d do a ranking of all the leagues instead. Enjoy :)
Belgium, Greece, Russia, Scotland, Ukraine
It was tough picking one league to stand out above the honorable mentions, and I believe Turkey takes that spot. Galatasaray & Beşiktaş are both well-known names on a global scale and both do relatively well in the Champions League given the other countries’ higher wages and resource pools. While the Guelph in talent might be drastic from those competing in Europe’s top 5 leagues, the Turkish Super Lig is worthy of multiple Champions League spaces, and the crowd atmosphere looks unbelievable (I have never seen so many flares in stadiums like Turkey).
The Primeira Liga has teetered on being considered one of Europe’s biggest leagues. Porto shocked the world by winning the Champions League in two00four (Miss you Jozay), and teams like Benfica, Porto, and Sporting Lisbon have established a solid foundation in UEFA. Countless players start their careers in the Portuguese League and end up becoming world superstars. This is preventing the league from becoming one of the world’s best - many players see it as a stepping stone rather than a place to play in the primes of their careers.
There might be some controversy putting them before the Portuguese League - recency bias may affect this decision with Ajax’s latest Champions League run. However, Ajax has a rich history and their run put The Eredivisie right back on the UEFA map. Ajax looks well built for the future (yes they lost two stars but the financial return is outstanding) and PSV were right on their tail last season, not to mention grabbing results against Spurs and Inter in last season’s Champions League. In a battle to establish themselves on a global scale, Ajax and PSV are well equipped to take the Dutch League back to greater heights.
Just two years ago, Kylian Mbappe led Monaco to an improbable French League title and place in the UCL semis. However, everyone knew that him and his fellow young stars would leave Monaco soon after (unlike Ajax who have far more promise following their run), and there went all fun in Ligue 1 UberEats (yes, that’s going to be the real name of the league next season). P$G is head and shoulders above everyone else yet can’t do anything meaningful in the Champions League. No team has established themselves as a solid second and they are closer to the Dutch and Portuguese leagues than they are to the top four countries.
The Bundesliga has a rich history but finds itself in a weird spot - Bayern have won 7 straight titles but seem to be falling behind compared to other European squads. Dortmund are a clear second but nowhere near the caliber of Europe’s best. Red Bull Leipzig certainly have the financial backing and support to contend in the near future but have yet to seriously threaten domestically or throughout Europe. The rest is a free-for-all. They’ll bounce back - there was an all-German UCL final in 2013 after all. Also, I have never been to Europe, but I think Dortmund’s Yellow Wall would be the coolest experience ever.
Juventus might have an 8 season title streak in Serie A, but that isn’t to say the Italitan league isn’t one of the world’s deepest. You could make an argument for 8 teams that have made an impact in both the domestic league and in Europe. Atalanta will be making its first ever appearance in the Champions League - another testament to the Serie A’s competitiveness. Juventus will likely win their 9th in a row, but I’m sure that matters far less to them than a Champions League title.
While the Madrids and Barcelona all spent big this summer, the rest of the league shows little threat to top three or to make an impact in Europe. Spain could be as high as one without Barcelona choking away the game at Liverpool last May, but they did choke, and they’re going to suffer in my meaningless league power rankings. It’s very plausible that one of these three could win the Champions League this season, but they have tough competition in the league above them.
This was by far the easiest to rank. Coming off a season where both the Champions League and Europa Leagues Finals were both played between English clubs, it is very clear the Premier League is far deeper and has far more potential than anywhere else. Despite there being four teams playing in European finals, none of them were Manchester City, who tallied 99 points to fend off Liverpool in the greatest title race in league history. The top six have been dominant the past three seasons, yet there are still signs that teams like Wolves, Everton, Leicester, West Ham, and Watford can all threaten.
Author: Living in Southern California, Robert Sweeney has been a fan of soccer since he played as a young child. Since then, he’s become a diehard Tottenham and US National Team fan. Rob enjoys writing about the impact soccer has had on his life in hopes that it betters others as well. Twitter: @robsweeney11