How do I learn more about European soccer?

John Pierpont's picture
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I grew up playing soccer and have followed the US national teams on and off for the past 10-15 years. I recently felt the urge to follow Chelsea because they signed Pulisic, but I have no idea where to start in understanding the league (leagues?).

I have the strategy/fundamentals down but I have no idea how the season, cups, trophies, tournatments, etc work in Europe. TF, there are so many cups!!!??!?!! I have no idea which one matters or do they all matter?

Is there a resource that breaks it down for slow Americans like myself?

Comments (10)

Jun 10, 2019

Fox Sports 1 & nbcsn weekend mornings - usually there's a match from premier league or the bundesliga. Great hangover therapy too!

Jun 10, 2019

find a chelsea FC affilliated bar and go to the weekend games on saturday/sunday mornings.

Jun 10, 2019

Watch it and/or play FIFA on PS4/XBOX. You'll pick it up.

Most Helpful
Jun 10, 2019

Easiest way is to watch the major European Leagues that are broadcast in the US.

The club season runs roughly from Mid August - Late May, with each league having slightly different time frames. Every country has multiple leagues, with a promotion and relegation system (the worst teams from higher leagues are sent to the division lower than them for the next season, and the top teams from the lower divisions sent up to the division higher than them. Google this for more clarity, I gave a very dumbed down version). Each country will also have their own cup competitions that features teams from all of the professional and even amateur leagues in the country. There are also 2 Europeans League, Champions League and Europa League, that include the winners of each country's top league and cup. Other teams are included as well but look it up on google cause its very complex. Overall, theres a lot of soccer going on and it's understandably hard to keep up.

This is where it is easy to build a base knowledge by watching what is on tv.
- English Premier League (NBC/NBCSN): This is the most popular league in the US, games are mainly on the Saturday/Sunday mornings, with the occasional mid week games in the early afternoon. This is what Chelsea plays in, and is a great place to start watching/gaining knowledge.
- Champions League (TNT/Bleacher Report Live): This is the premier European club competition. Games are select Tuesdays/Wednesdays during the season in the mid afternoon. The winners of the major European Leagues, and top 2/3 finishers from the domestic leagues the season before are in this. Its far more complicated than this, but base knowledge is this is where the elite teams play every year and look to win. Lots of prize money is involved, and it is a great tournament that allows the best to play the best.
- Bundesliga (Germany) (Fox/Fox Sports): Also Saturday/Sunday Mornings. This is probably the 3rd/4th best league in the world, but due to its coverage through Fox it can be seen fairly easily/regularly in the US. Bayern Munich have been dominant lately with Borrusia Dortmund (Pulisic's old team) being their main challenger.
- La Liga (Spain) (BEIN Sports): Hard to watch due to its tv contract. This is a great league, with some of the top teams in the world (Barcelona, Real Madrid, Athletico Madrid). You will see a lot of these teams doing well in the Champions League each year.
- Calcio/Serie A (Italy) (ESPN+): A lot easier to watch now that it is on ESPN+, a very historic league that really peaked in the 1990's. Juventus dominates this league, but other teams such as Napoli, Inter Milan, AC Milan, AS Roma, and Lazio will pop up in European Competitions.
- Ligue 1 (France) (BEIN): No on watches this league. France is a breeding ground for talent, so players from this league will often be sold to other big teams/leagues. Paris St. Germain (PSG) dominate the league with their Qatari backing, you will see them in the Champions League along with a few others.
- Europa League (TNT/Bleacher Report Live): Thursday, mid afternoon games. This is the step below champions league, basically the poor mans champions league. This is where you can watch some of the more obscure, but good European teams play which can be kind of fun.

So that lists the Top 5 domestic leagues, along with the main 2 European Leagues. Overall, focusing your attention on EPL (English Premier League) and the Champions League will be your best start to learning more. The more time you have to research/watch other leagues the more you will know, but hopefully that gives you a good base to start with.

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Jun 11, 2019

Thanks man, I really appreciate it.

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Jun 10, 2019

ESPN FC for news https://www.espn.com/soccer/?src=com . Most accurate and in depth analysis IMO, while also covering all the big leagues pretty comprehensively. The others networks tend to weigh more towards whichever league they cover.

Chelsea is a fun choice but be ready for the real possibility that Pulisic may never be more than a benchwarmer. If you choose to look elsewhere, be forewarned that unless you pick a premier league team, real madrid/barcelona, or juventus, your fellow fanbase will likely be hipsters or a small faction of serious die hards likely from the very city the club is based (but most likely just hipsters). Personally I love atletico madrid because their coach is my favorite type of crazy....and absolutely rocks at his job because of it.

But while you'll definitely want to find a team to rally behind, I also recommend building a knowledge of as many leagues as possible, especially the big 4 (premier, la liga, bundasliga, serie A). Even watch some games or at least the highlights of each from time to time. This will help you understand and appreciate the different playing styles, and overall expand your soccer IQ beyond most who just watch one league exclusively. It will also make watching champions league all the more fun when you see these different playing styles go head to head.

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Jun 11, 2019

Will definitely head over to ESPN FC and poke around. Thanks!

Jun 10, 2019
  1. There are no playoffs in European soccer leagues.
  2. There is only one top league in each country (no Eastern/Western etc.) and one winner.
  3. There is a domestic cup in each country which includes lower tier teams but winning the top league is indefinitely more important.
  4. There are two European cups, the Champions League and the Euro League. The Champions League includes the best teams from each league (normally places around 1-3) and the Euro League includes the second best teams (normally around 4-6). If teams cannot expect to win the league, they try to reach a place in the Champions League or Euro League. It's usually more or less the same teams in the top 5 in each country every year so I'd just focus on those teams.
  5. In terms of national teams, there is the World cup and then there is the European cup.
  6. Success is determined by winning things so the most relevant clubs (for players and fans) are the teams which have historically won a lot of league titles and European cups.
  7. Recently, some clubs have been bought out outright or have received outside investments. These clubs go around spending big $$$ to buy the best players of poorer clubs so the dynamics have shifted a bit in recent years. (for example Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain owned by Qatar, Chelsea owned by Roman Abramovich).
  8. Besides 7) there is a Forbes ranking of most valuable clubs which I think includes ticket sales, sponsoring etc. It's quite accurate. Click here
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Jun 10, 2019

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Jun 11, 2019
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