The major European leagues have each had their share of time at the top.
Serie A was dominant in the 1990s. Barcelona and Real Madrid claimed much of the 2000s and 2010s. The Bundesliga produced Champions League finalists in three out of four seasons either side of the millennium, and we had an all-German final in 2013.
Premier League teams have been in the mix for continental honours throughout the 21st century, including providing three different winners in the last five seasons. In fact, over the last six Champions League finals, only five slots have been taken by non-Premier League sides.
Top 5 Leagues In Europe:
The outcome of Champions League live betting obviously isn’t the be-all end-all when it comes to comparing leagues. It is about balancing quality with entertainment alongside competing on the continental stage.
Here are our rankings of the top five leagues in European football in 2023-24…
Ligue 1 is lucky to hold on to fifth spot here. UEFA ranks Eredivisie fifth at the time of writing.
The star power of PSG puts them among the betting favourites for Champions League glory still, even after losing Lionel Messi and Neymar, which is enough to elevate France’s top fight ahead of their Dutch counterparts.
If PSG disappoint in the Champions League again or lose Kylian Mbappe next summer, they could well relinquish fifth place in these rankings to the Eredivisie.
Feyenoord’s run to the inaugural Conference League final means the Netherlands had produced a finalist more recently than France.
Nice have spent money with the hope of becoming a Champions League regular in the next few years. Outside of PSG, Ligue 1 scores well for competitiveness domestically, but their lack of success in Europe leaves them adrift in fifth.
Not so long ago, it was reasonable to pit the Bundesliga up against the Premier League.
The highpoint of Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund taking on Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern Munich in the 2013 Champions League final is over a decade ago now, however, and the Bundesliga has provided only two European finalists since.
There was a proper title race last season, but even that ended with yet another Bundesliga crown for Bayern.
Bayer Leverkusen are threatening early in 2023-24, and they have been a great story under Xabi Alonso. If they can make a sustained challenge for the title, and become a force in Europe, it could push the Bundesliga back into the top three.
For now, though, only Der Klassiker duo seem capable of competing with Europe’s best in the Champions League. Domestically, it has been far too predictable in recent years, too.
Barcelona and Real Madrid are both at relative low points. Football prediction giants Real saw Karim Benzema leave in the summer, and they are ushering in a new generation led by the majestic Jude Bellingham.
Barcelona are still something of a work in progress under Xavi as they build their next great team around Gavi and Pedri.
Atletico Madrid have not made it past the last eight of the Champions League since 2016-17. In La Liga, they have been a long way off top spot in each of the last two seasons.
Sevilla, Atleti and Villarreal have all lifted the Europa League in the last six seasons, but only one La Liga outfit reached the knockout rounds of the 2022-23 Champions League.
Of course, Barcelona and Real Madrid are among the leading contenders for Europe’s premier prize in 2024. La Liga teams will inevitably be in the Europa League mix, too.
Spanish football, however, is not where it was a few years ago. Stars have aged and/or departed, and clubs outside the top three or four struggle to compete with their Premier League peers financially.
After half-a-dozen false dawns, Serie A might finally be back. Three Italian teams reached the last eight of the 2022-23 Champions League with Milan and Inter meeting in the semis.
Roma reached the Europa League final after winning the 2021-22 Conference League. Fiorentina were finalists in the 2022-23 Conference League.
That’s quite a list of accomplishments for a league which has struggled to keep up with the Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga over the last decade.
Of course, those achievements in the last two seasons do not include the Champions League exploits of defending Scudetto winners Napoli or Juventus, who will be back on the continental stage in 2024-25.
All four Serie A teams could yet qualify from their Champions League groups. Don’t be surprised to see an Italian club or two in the latter stages of the competition.
Home to many of the richest clubs in world football, the Premier League retains top spot in our rankings.
Not only has the Premier League delivered three of the last five European champions (with two all-English finals in that span), England’s topflight has also been flexing its financial muscle to hoover up talent from all over the world.
Even those outside the big six (or seven if we include Newcastle) can now go toe-to-toe in the transfer market with most clubs around Europe. The league might have become predictable due to Manchester City’s dominance, but there continues to be variety behind City.
Arsenal and City are serious contenders for the Champions League. Any of the Premier League teams involved (perhaps including Newcastle and Manchester United) could win the Europa League.
Would anyone be surprised if the Unai Emery-led Aston Villa followed West Ham’s footsteps in the Conference League?
The Premier League is the strongest league in the world right now, and there’s no sign of that changing any time soon. From an entertainment standpoint, City’s unparalleled brilliance is the biggest weakpoint.