When you think of the most competitive leagues in football, you would be forgiven if your mind jumped straight to the La Liga or the German Bundesliga. While those are certainly two of the best leagues in the world, they have both been dominated by one or two teams over the years.
A competitive league is one in which any team has a chance at snapping up the title, regardless of how big or small the club is. Think back to Leicester City’s dream run to Premier League glory.
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We’ve listed some of the most competitive leagues in the world. Some of the leagues on this list might even surprise you.
Major League Soccer (MLS) – United States of America
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The MLS is the premier football league in North America, and consists of 24 teams from the USA and Canada split into two groups – the Eastern and the Western Conference. Each team plays 34 matches in a season – one home and away fixture against each team in their conference, and one fixture against each team in the other conference.
Unlike most major football leagues around the world, the MLS culminates in post-season knockout tournament to determine the champion. Essentially a team that finishes mid-table in either Conference could go on to win the MLS Cup if they perform well in the knockout stages, making the MLS one of the most competitive leagues in the world.
As at the end of the 2018 season, 26 different clubs have competed in the league, with 13 having won at least one MLS Cup, highlighting the possibility of any team to go all the way.
The English Football League Championship – England
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Not only is the EFL Championship one of the most competitive leagues in the world, it is also one of the most attended and watched leagues in the world, which is saying a lot for the league considering the company it keeps in the form of the Premier League.
One of the most exciting things about the EFL Championship – and something that adds to the competitive nature – is the fact that each season there are six new teams who contend for the title – three teams relegated from the Premier League and three promoted from League One.
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Similar to the MLS, but on a lesser scale, the EFL Championship season ends with the top two teams being promoted to the Premier League, while teams placed third to sixth are left to battle it out in a playoff series for the final promotion spot.
Teams that are relegated to the Championship don’t necessarily have an easy time of it either, so fierce is the competition in the league, that often former Premier League sides find themselves languishing in the middle of the table at the end of the season.
League of Ireland Premier Division – Ireland
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Ireland has produced some amazing footballers over the years, the likes of Roy Keane, Robbie Keane, Damian Duff, Steve Heighway and many others. While these players have mostly plied their trade in the Premier League in England, most have spent some time in the ranks of the League of Ireland Premier Division.
Although the Irish teams probably wouldn’t stand a chance against the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid, within the Irish Premier division, the competition is fierce. This is evidenced by the fact that the title has been won by nine clubs, this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, until you realise that there are only ten teams competing each season.
In the last 10 years alone, the title has been won by seven different clubs.
A-League – Australia
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The A-League is the top football league in Australia. Despite the Australians favouring cricket, rugby and Aussie Rules football, their soccer league is one of the most competitive in the world.
Since the league took on its name from the National Soccer League in 2005, there have been six different champions. Again, the league only has 10 teams competing during any given season, which makes the fact that one team hasn’t become dominant all the more impressive.
To give an idea of just how quickly things can change, the Newcastle Jets – runners up in the 2018 season – currently sit in 7th
overall, with the top three teams in the league separated by just 10 points. Last year’s winners, Melbourne Victory, have fallen down to third place and look to be on the road to relinquishing their title.
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