Bundesliga vs Ligue 1

Bundesliga vs Ligue 1 – What’s The Difference?

Last updated on January 22nd, 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 Ligue 1.

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

Here’s what you need to know:

The difference between Bundesliga and Ligue 1

The Bundesliga includes the top 18 teams in German football, while Ligue 1 contains the top 20 teams in French 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, Ligue 1 has 20 teams, which is similar to the other top leagues in Europe, including:

  1. Premier League
  2. Serie A
  3. La Liga

Origin of teams

The teams in the Bundesliga originate from Germany, while those in Ligue 1 originate from France.

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

BundesligaLigue 1
Bayern MunichPSG
Borussia DortmundLOSC Lille
RB LeipzigMonaco
VfL WolfsburgLyon

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 Ligue 1 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 Ligue 1 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 Ligue 1, 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, the rules are not really clear for the squads in Ligue 1 too. However, in Football Manager, it was stated that a squad can register a maximum of 4 non-EU players.

Qualification for competition

The promotion criteria for both the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 are quite similar.

Every season, the bottom 2 teams will be relegated, and the top 2 teams from the 2. Bundesliga or Ligue 2 will be promoted.

The 3rd bottom team (16th placed) in the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 (17th placed) will compete with the 3rd-placed team in the 2. Bundesliga or Ligue 2 in a relegation playoff match.

This is a 2-legged match where the first match is played at the home of the Bundesliga or Ligue 1 side, while the second leg is played at the home of the Bundesliga 2 or Ligue 2 side.

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

UEFA competitions placing

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

BundesligaLigue 1
1stChampions League
Group Stage
Champions League
Group Stage
2ndChampions League
Group Stage
Champions League
Group Stage
3rdChampions League
Group Stage
Champions League
Third Qualifying Round
4thChampions League
Group Stage
Europa League
Group Stage
5thEuropa League
Group Stage
Europa Conference
League play-offs
6thEuropa Conference
League play-offs

This means that the Bundesliga has more Champions League spots (4) compared to Ligue 1 (3).

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 German domestic cup (DFB-Pokal) or 5th place wins the French domestic cup (Coupe de la Ligue), 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:

BundesligaLigue 1
Prize MoneyDistribution modelBased on performance
Qualification for next
season’s Champions League
for Super Cup
DFL-SupercupTrophée des Champions

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 Ligue 1 is more straightforward, where it is based on the position of the team. In the 2020/21 season, the winner received €60m, with the 2nd-placed team receiving €48m.

The winners of both leagues will qualify for the Champions League group stages. Moreover, they will play in the German and French 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:

BundesligaLigue 1
Bayern Munich (9)PSG (7)
Borussia Dortmund (1)Monaco (1)
Lille (1)
Montpellier (1)

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

Meanwhile, Ligue 1 has been ‘slightly’ more competitive, as there have been 4 different winners for the past 10 years.

However, it is still pretty dominant as PSG has won 7 out of the last 10 titles.

As such, Ligue 1 may be slightly more exciting to watch compared to the Bundesliga.

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:

SeasonBundesligaLigue 1
2020/2101 (PSG)
2019/202 (Bayern
and Leipzig)
2 (PSG
and OL)
2017/181 (Bayern)0
2016/1701 (AS

Ligue 1 takes the slight edge by providing one more semi-finalist (4) compared to the Bundesliga (3).


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

BundesligaLigue 1
Number of teams1820
Origin of teamsGermanyFrance
Duration10 months10 months
FormatDouble round-robinDouble round-robin
of matches
Squad sizeMinimum 12 German
players under contract
Maximum 4
non-EU players
QualificationTop 2 from 2. Bundesliga 

3rd in 2. Bundesliga has playoff
with 16th in Bundesliga
Top 2 from Ligue 2

3rd in Ligue 2 has playoff
with 18th in Ligue 1
Champions League
Prize MoneyDistribution modelBased on position
Qualification for
next season’s
Champions League
for Super Cup
DFL-SupercupTrophée des Champions
Dominance of teamsMainly BayernMainly PSG
Champions League
3 semi-finalists
in past 5 years
4 semi-finalists
in past 5 years


The Bundesliga and Ligue 1 are 2 of the top footballing competitions in the European football season.

Based solely on the Champions League performances, Ligue 1 takes the slight edge!

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