Last updated on January 16th, 2022
How are these 2 competitions different from each other, and which one is better?
Here’s what you need to know:
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The difference between Bundesliga and Serie A
The Bundesliga includes the top 18 teams in German football, while Serie A involves the top 20 clubs in Italian football. Both of these competitions mainly differ in terms of their qualification and squad rules.
Here is a further explanation of these 2 competitions:
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, Serie A has 20 teams, similar to the other top leagues in Europe, including:
Origin of teams
The teams in the Bundesliga originate from Germany, while those in Serie A originate from Italy.
Here are some of the top teams from each country that have been playing in these leagues:
|Borussia Dortmund||Inter Milan|
|RB Leipzig||AC Milan|
If you’re wondering what does VfL stand for in Wolfsburg, you can check out my guide here.
Since both of these countries are UEFA nations, teams from these countries will be able to participate in the Champions League.
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.
For both Serie A and Bundesliga, they usually have a 2-week winter break, starting in mid-December and then beginning the competition again in the first week of January.
In contrast, there are other competitions like the Premier League which do not have a fixed winter break.
Format of competition
Both the Bundesliga and Serie A follow a double round-robin league format. Each team will play against the other clubs in the league.
For 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.
The matchday squad of each Bundesliga team must have no more than five non-EU representatives too.
For Serie A, there has to be a maximum of 25 players to be registered, with some home-grown rules including:
- Four players are ‘home-grown’ in Italy
- Four players have to be ‘home-grown’ from the club’s respective youth academy
You can find out more about the home-grown player rule for the different competitions in my guide.
Qualification for competition
The Bundesliga contains the top 18 teams in German football. Every season, the bottom 2 teams will be relegated, and the top 2 teams from the 2. Bundesliga will be promoted.
Here is an example of the playoff between Union Berlin and VfB Stuttgart.
For Serie A, the top 2 teams of Serie B will be automatically promoted. If the 3rd-placed team in Serie B is 10 or more points ahead of the 4th-placed team, it is automatically promoted too.
If that is not the case, a playoff tournament will result. This is more complicated compared to the playoff tournaments in other leagues, as it is based on the number of points that set apart the teams between 3rd and 8th place.
An example was Venezia FC, who was in 5th place in Serie B, but emerged as the playoff winners to book the last slot in the Serie A.
So long as any of these teams finish within 14 points of the 3rd placed team in Serie B, they will participate in the playoff tournament. As such, there can be up to 3 rounds in the tournament, depending on the number of teams that participate.
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 position||Qualification for|
|Top 4 teams||Champions League|
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 Coppa Italia), 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:
|Prize Money||Distribution model||Based on performance|
|Qualification for next |
season’s Champions League
for Super Cup
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 Serie A is more straightforward, where it is based on the position of the team. In the 2020/21 season, the winner received €23.4m, with the 2nd-placed team receiving €19.4m.
The winners of both leagues will qualify for the Champions League group stages. Moreover, they will play in the German and Italian versions of the Super Cup.
Dominance of teams
In this section, we will be looking at the past winners of these 2 leagues:
|Bayern Munich |
(2012/13 – 2020/21)
(2011/12 – 2019/20)
For both competitions, they have been mainly dominated by one team in the league. This is especially in the Bundesliga, where Bayern Munich has 9 consecutive titles!
As such, both leagues may not be as exciting as other leagues that have different winners over time.
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:
|2019/20||2 (Bayern |
|2017/18||1 (Bayern)||1 (Roma)|
Overall, both leagues have pretty similar performances in the Champions League, except for the 2019/20 season where there were 2 semi-finalists from the Bundesliga.
Here is a summary of the comparison between these 2 leagues:
|Duration||10 months||10 months|
|Format||Double round-robin||Double round-robin|
|Squad size||Minimum 12 German |
players under contract
|Qualification||Top 2 from 2. Bundesliga |
3rd in 2. Bundesliga has playoff
with 16th in Bundesliga
|Top 2 from Serie B |
3rd – 8th may have playoff
|Prize Money||Distribution model||Based on position|
|Qualification for next|
season’s Champions League
for Super Cup
|Mainly Bayern||Mainly Juventus|
|Champions League |
|3 semi-finalists |
in past 5 years
in past 5 years
Is Serie A better than the Bundesliga?
The Bundesliga may be better than Serie A in terms of Champions League performances, where there are 3 semi-finalists in the past 5 years compared to Serie A (2 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!
The Bundesliga and Serie A are 2 of the top footballing competitions in the European football season.
Based solely on the Champions League performances, the Bundesliga takes the slight edge!
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