Europe is home to some spectacular football stadiums, from the largest of their kind to those with incredible facilities and a great atmosphere from the working class stands in German stadiums, to having a classic pie at a British game while having someone shout out betting tips at halftime. But with so many to choose from, which one takes the crown for the best stadium in Europe for fans?
Real Madrid is the top team in FanWide’s European soccer rankings. From their 33 domestic league titles to 207 million aggregate social media followers to 13 Champions League titles and beyond- Real Madrid’s numbers speak for themselves. Few teams have the ammunition to form meaningful rivalries with Real Madrid. Barcelona, FanWide’s #3 team, is one of those teams. Games played between Real Madrid and Barcelona, nicknamed “El Clásico,” are consistently some of the most viewed sporting events in the world. While Barcelona currently leads the all-time rivalry (the overall record is 115-99-61), games between the two giants in La Liga are much closer. The all-time El Clásico record in La Liga games is 72-72-34. The rivalry goes beyond soccer- Real Madrid is said to represent Spanish pride while Barcelona is said to represent Catalonian pride. Cristiano Ronaldo, who is tied as the second leading all-time El Clásico goal scorer with Alfredo di Stefano (behind Lionel Messi), was a major part of the rivalry. Now that Ronaldo has moved to Juventus, it will be interesting to see how the rivalry sways. Ballon d’Or winner Luca Modric will have to continue stepping up big for Real Madrid for reasons that go beyond just their rivalry with Barcelona. Real Madrid has begun a new era. Time will tell if Real Madrid flourishes post-Ronaldo, but if history repeats itself, they’ll do just fine. There’s a reason Real Madrid is FanWide’s #1 European soccer team.
With 28 domestic titles, Bayern Munich is the most decorated football club in Germany. While there are contenders every year, there is no match for Bayern Munich in their home country. They compete in the Bundesliga, Germany’s first division league, and in this league, they have won 4 times as many titles as the second most decorated club, 1. FC Nürnberg. Both of these clubs are located in Bavaria, the largest state in Germany. Currently, the team that most challenges Bayern Munich is Borussia Dortmund which is located in a different German state- North Rhine-Westphalia. The geographic and cultural differences between the homes of the current top Bundesliga competitors heightens an already natural rivalry. Each Bundesliga title is more than a trophy- teams compete for the pride of their hometown, and currently, citizens of Bavaria have the right to feel pretty proud. While their success on the international stage does not quite match their success within Germany (nobody’s does), they are not far off. Bayern Munich is consistently one of the most feared football clubs in the world, having won the Champions League 5 times. The club ranks within the top 5 across each and every one of FanWide’s ranking metrics. From fan attendance to team value to star power and beyond-it is hard to find a weakness in Bayern Munich’s resumé. Bayern Munich is the runner up in FanWide’s European soccer team rankings, coming in at #2.
Since its inception, La Liga has been dominated by two football clubs: Barcelona and Real Madrid. Lionel Messi’s brilliance has kept Barcelona relevant for years, but he doesn’t do it alone. Aside from a star-studded supporting cast, Barcelona boasts one of the largest fan bases in the world, across all sports. While FC Barcelona’s claim to have 1 billion fans might be inflated (generally attributed to double counting fans on social media, visits to their website, etc.), they are not far off. A history of elite talent has lead to perennial Spanish football dominance, but where do they stand on the global stage? FanWide has collected data that measures both popularity and on-field success. The result? Barcelona ranks #3 among European soccer teams.
With 20 English football titles, Manchester United is the most decorated football club in England. Their history as an English football powerhouse is undeniable. Because of this reputation, Manchester United has attracted some of the most talented English footballers. English players like Wayne Rooney, Bobby Charlton, and David Beckham have all called Manchester United their home at some point. With better players comes more wins, a cycle of success that has worked in Manchester United’s favor over the years. The club’s tradition of success has given them one of the largest fan bases in the world. Each year, United is always in the mix for a title. Their prominence in English football and beyond has earned them the #4 spot in FanWide’s European soccer rankings.
It is not a bad time to be a fan of Liverpool Football Club. The team is currently in second place in the English Premier League, and they aren’t too far behind in the Champion’s League race. Young phenom Mohamed Salah is driving the team’s success as of late, but if you know Liverpool, you know that the team is much more than one player and much more than one year. Liverpool’s success has transcended eras, gaining them the reputation of one of the elite football clubs in the world. Alongside their deep trophy case lies an impressive social portfolio; in short, Liverpool is successful on and off the field- successful enough to land them the #5 spot in FanWide’s European soccer rankings.
Arsenal is currently in a scorching hot Champions League qualification race. Each year, the top four teams in the English Premier League earn themselves a ticket to the Champions League. Arsenal will continue to battle with Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, and Chelsea for the third and fourth spot- the top two spots are currently occupied by Manchester City and Liverpool, who have all but secured entry. Arsenal is no stranger to the Champions League- they have failed to qualify just twice since 1998. Unfortunately, they have never been able to capture the elusive Champions League trophy.
Even without this hardware, Arsenal has been a staple in English football since they were founded in 1886. In fact, in 1891, they became the first London football team to turn pro. Today, London (the largest city in England and 24th largest city in the world) is a hub for soccer; Arsenal is one of six EPL teams to call London their home (along with Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Crystal Palace, Fulham, and West Ham United). Arsenal consistently performs among the top teams in the EPL, and the “Gunners” have grown out of their original home- The Royal Arsenal- and into the third largest stadium in England. Arsenal’s rich history has played a key role in their success. Their prominence on and off the field has earned them the #6 spot in FanWide’s European soccer team rankings.
When Chelsea FC was purchased by Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich, in 2003, the club had seen limited success in both domestic and international competitions. Now 16 years after his purchase, it is safe to say that Abramovich’s tenure as Chelsea owner has been bountiful. Chelsea has since won 5 of their 6 English football championships and their sole Champions League title. After purchasing the club for 140 million Euros (approximately $160 million as of February 2019) and injecting over $1 billion since, the team has grown into the seventh most valuable soccer club in the world, worth an estimated $2 billion (according to Forbes).
The new era of Chelsea football has been kind to the fans. After seeing relatively stagnant cup play since the club’s inception in 1905, fans have been able to see enough success in the past 15 years to last a lifetime. Because of this success, Chelsea has been able to take full advantage of the large London market. Chelsea is here to stay, and the Chelsea football renaissance has earned them the #7 spot in FanWide’s European soccer club rankings.
It is 2019, and Manchester City, the reigning English Premier League champions, looks poised to add another trophy to the case. The club’s 2017-2018 title was their third in the past 10 years, tying them with Chelsea and Manchester United for the most Premier League Titles in that span. Considering 60% of Manchester City’s all-time domestic league titles have been won within the past decade, it is safe to say that they are beginning to establish themselves as an English football powerhouse.
After years of living in the shadow of cross-town rival Manchester United, Manchester City’s recent success has allowed them to differentiate themselves as a club and claim some of the market for themselves. Establishing a presence in one of the most competitive regions of English football (the northwest) has given them additional access to fans and revenue, something to build upon in the future. Lead by Belgian midfielder, Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City looks to stay among the top in the Premier League and make a splash in the Champion’s League in the near future. Read on to find out what makes them FanWide’s #9 European soccer team.
With the acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus FC has all but secured their next term of Italian football dominance. Juventus has been the team to beat in Italy’s Serie A for years, and adding the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has kept them atop the league standings. Ronaldo has done more for Juventus than dominate the pitch. In the 24 hours after Ronaldo’s signing, Juventus sold 520,000 Ronaldo jerseys worth over $60 million. When Barcelona signed Neymar Jr., they sold just 10,000 in the same span. In short, Juventus got what they paid for. There is a reason Ronaldo signed with Juventus. Aside from the $140 million contract, Ronaldo joined Juventus because of their tradition of success. With 34 Italian league titles, Juventus is an established European football powerhouse. Their success on and off the field has landed them the #9 spot in FanWide’s European soccer rankings. Read below to find out what makes them a top ten team, and check out this blog for more information regarding the ranking process.