Debating the best soccer leagues in the world can be a fun exercise. But beyond personal opinions, it’s possible to quantify the argument with some data to back it up. Thanks to the sports analytics gurus at Opta, we can do just that.

Opta’s Power Rankings assign an “ability score” of 0-100 to each club, based on a wide variety of factors and stats. On this scale, 0 is the worst team in the world and 100 is the best. Currently, the top-ranked club is Manchester City.

So, if you average the scores of all the teams in a league, you can compare them to see how each competition stacks up. And these are the numbers and rankings you see below, as of September 2023.

30 best soccer leagues in the world

  1. English Premier League 87.66
  2. German Bundesliga 84.04
  3. Italian Serie A 83.46
  4. Spanish La Liga 83.43
  5. French Ligue 1 81.41
  6. English Championship 78.58
  7. Dutch Eredivisie 77.24
  8. Portuguese Primeira Liga 77.20
  9. Belgian Pro League 77.19
  10. Brazilian Serie A 76.43
  11. Swiss Super League 75.72
  12. Turkish Super Lig 75.65
  13. Russian Premier Liga 75.08
  14. Danish Superliga 75.00
  15. MLS 74.77
  16. Austrian Bundesliga 74.76
  17. Spanish La Liga 2 74.42
  18. Polish Ekstraklasa 73.88
  19. Argentine Liga Professional 73.66
  20. German 2. Bundesliga 73.62
  21. Croatian HNL 73.45
  22. Mexican Liga MX 73.20
  23. Cypriot First Division 72.47
  24. Swedish Allsvenskan 72.30
  25. Japanese J1 League 72.16
  26. South Korean K League 1 72.09
  27. Saudi Pro League 71.94
  28. Israeli Premier League 71.56
  29. Romanian Liga I 71.40
  30. Norwegian Eliteserien 71.33

It’s really no surprise at the top of the rankings, with Europe’s “Top 5” leagues in the top five spots. The Premier League sits at the pinnacle – they’ve got seven clubs in the top twenty in the overall team rankings.

Germany’s Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga, and Ligue 1 round out the top five. The strength of the English game is on display with the second-tier EFL Championship coming in sixth. That’s ahead of the Eredivisie, Primeira Liga, Belgian Pro League, and many other European first divisions.

The Brasileirão is the highest-ranked competition on the western side of the Atlantic, coming in tenth. Brazilian clubs have won four of the last five Copa Libertadores, and make up three of the four semifinalists in the ongoing 2023 edition.

MLS on the move

Meanwhile, Major League Soccer has seen a jump, ranked 29th in August but now up to 15th. That puts the American domestic top tier just ahead of the Austrian Bundesliga and Spanish second division. The influx of talent over the summer and the strong performance of MLS sides vs. Liga MX in Leagues Cup no doubt helped the league move up the rankings.

In the Middle East, the suddenly-star-packed Saudi Pro League ranks 27th, just behind the J League and K League from the far eastern reaches of the Asian confederation.

What do you think? Are these data-backed rankings on point, or is there more to it that stats?

Photos: Imago