Bundesliga vs La Liga

Bundesliga vs La Liga – What’s The Difference?

Last updated on January 30th, 2022

If you’ve been following the top leagues in European football, you may have noticed that there are a few popular ones, including the Bundesliga and La Liga.

How are these 2 competitions different, and which one is better?

Here’s what you need to know:

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The difference between Bundesliga and La Liga

The Bundesliga includes the top 18 teams in German football, while La Liga contains the top 20 teams in Spanish football. Both of these competitions mainly differ in terms of their squad rules and the number of semi-finalists in the Champions League.

Here is a further comparison between these 2 leagues:

Number of teams involved

The Bundesliga is the only competition among the top 5 leagues in Europe to have 18 teams. This was due to historical reasons that happened in 1965.

Meanwhile, La Liga has 20 teams, which is similar to the other top leagues in Europe, including:

  1. Premier League
  2. Serie A
  3. Ligue 1

Origin of teams

The teams in the Bundesliga originate from Germany, while those in La Liga originate from Spain.

Here are some of the top teams from each country that have been playing in these leagues:

BundesligaLa Liga
Bayern MunichAtletico Madrid
Borussia DortmundReal Madrid
RB LeipzigBarcelona
VfL WolfsburgSevilla

If you’re wondering what does VfL stand for in Wolfsburg, you can check out my guide here.

Frequency and duration of competitions

Both competitions have a similar schedule, where they will start in August, and then end in May.

This is similar to the other top European leagues as well.

Both the Bundesliga and La Liga usually have a 2-week winter break. This normally starts in mid-December, and the competition will resume in the first week of January.

Format of competition

Both the Bundesliga and La Liga follow a double round-robin league format. Each team will play against the other clubs in the league.

For Bundesliga, each team will play against 17 other teams, for a total of 34 matches. Meanwhile, for La Liga, each team plays against 19 other teams, for a total of 38 matches.

Squad size

In the Bundesliga, it is not clear how the big squad size can be. However, each club must have a minimum of 12 German players under contract.

8 of these players have to be trained locally, while the other 4 can be trained by a club or association in Germany.

The matchday squad of each Bundesliga team must have no more than five non-EU representatives too.

Meanwhile, La Liga has a squad size limit at 23.

Qualification for competition

In both the Bundesliga and La Liga, the top 2 teams of the second division (2. Bundesliga and Segunda División) will be promoted to the Bundesliga and La Liga respectively.

The bottom 2 teams of the Bundesliga and La Liga will be relegated to the second division too.

However, the way that the last promotion place is determined is slightly different.

The 3rd bottom team (16th placed) in the Bundesliga will compete with the 3rd-placed team in the 2. Bundesliga in a relegation playoff match.

Here is an example of the playoff between Union Berlin and VfB Stuttgart.

Meanwhile, the third promotion spot in La Liga will be decided in a promotion play-off, where the 3rd-6th placed teams will compete in this mini-competition.

However, you may want to note that ‘B’ teams can’t be promoted to La Liga if their senior team is already in the league!

UEFA competitions placing

Your team will be eligible to qualify for UEFA competitions, based on how they perform in the league. The qualification is the same for both competitions:

League positionQualification for
UEFA Competition
Top 4 teamsChampions League
group stage
5thEuropa League
group stage
6thEuropa Conference
League play-offs

However, this is not considering the slot that is reserved in the Europa League for the cup winners. In the event that 6th place wins the domestic cup (DFB-Pokal or Copa del Rey), they will qualify for the Europa League and not the Europa Conference League.

The Europa Conference League play-off spot will be given to the next highest team that has not qualified for a European competition yet.

Rewards for winning competition

Here are the rewards your team will receive when they win either competition:

BundesligaLa Liga
Prize MoneyDistribution modelBased on performance
Qualification for next
season’s Champions League
YesYes
Qualification
for Super Cup
DFL-SupercupSupercopa
de España

Interestingly, the Bundesliga has a unique way of distributing the prize money. It follows this model of:

  • 65% of the yearly pool divided equally
  • Other 35% is divided according to league positions in the last 5 years

Meanwhile, the prize money for La Liga is more straightforward, where it is based on the position of the team. In the 2020/21 season, the winner received €40m.

The winners of both leagues will qualify for the Champions League group stages. Moreover, they will play in the German and Spanish versions of the Super Cup.

The super cup is usually the curtain raiser of the football season. This is played between the winners of the league and the cup of that particular country.

You can find out more about how a Super Cup works by reading my Guides on the FA Community Shield and the UEFA Super Cup.

Dominance of teams

In this section, we will be looking at the past winners of these 2 leagues since the 2011/12 season:

BundesligaLa Liga
Bayern Munich (9)Barcelona (5)
Borussia Dortmund (1)Real Madrid (3)
Atletico Madrid (2)

Bayern Munich has been very dominant in the Bundesliga, where they have won 9 out of the last 10 titles!

Meanwhile, La Liga has been ‘slightly’ more competitive, as there have been 3 different winners for the past 10 years.

However, it is still pretty dominant as Barcelona has won 5 out of the last 10 titles.

Champions League performances

In this section, we will see how the clubs from these leagues have performed in the Champions League. This is the best indicator of how well the league is as a whole, since the Champions League is a competition between the top European clubs.

To make a fairer comparison, I will be looking at the semi-finalists for the past 5 years that come from either league:

BundesligaLa Liga
2020/2101 (Real Madrid)
2019/202 (Bayern
and Leipzig)
0
2018/1901 (Barcelona)
2017/181 (Bayern)1 (Real Madrid)
2016/1702 (Real Madrid
and Atlético Madrid)

La Liga takes the slight edge by providing more semi-finalists (5) compared to the Bundesliga (3).

Verdict

Here is a summary of the comparison between these 2 leagues:

BundesligaLa Liga
Number of teams1820
Origin of teamsGermanySpain
FrequencyAnnuallyAnnually
Duration10 months10 months
FormatDouble
round-robin
Double
round-robin
Number
of matches
3438
Squad sizeMinimum 12 German
players under contract
23
QualificationTop 2 from
2. Bundesliga 


3rd in 2. Bundesliga
has playoff with
16th in Bundesliga
Top 2 teams from
Segunda División

Playoffs between
3rd to 6th place
Prize MoneyDistribution modelBased on position
Qualification for
next season’s
Champions League
YesYes
Qualification
for Super Cup
DFL-SupercupSupercopa
de España
Dominance
of teams
Mainly BayernEqually shared among
Barcelona, Real Madrid,
and Atlético Madrid
Champions League
performances (semi-finals)
3 semi-finalists in
the past 5 years
5 semi-finalists in
the past 5 years

Is La Liga more competitive than Bundesliga?

La Liga may be considered to be more competitive than the Bundesliga as there have been a wider variety of winners in La Liga compared to the Bundesliga.

Is La Liga better than the Bundesliga?

La Liga may be better than the Bundesliga in terms of Champions League performances, where there are 5 semi-finalists in the past 5 years compared to the Bundesliga (3 semi-finalists).

It is quite hard to compare one league to another, and I feel that the best way to do so would be by the Champions League performances!

Conclusion

The Bundesliga and La Liga are 2 of the top footballing competitions in the European football season.

Based solely on the Champions League performances, La Liga takes the slight edge!

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