Ligue 1 vs La Liga

Ligue 1 vs La Liga – 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 Ligue 1 and La Liga.

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

Here’s what you need to know:

The difference between Ligue 1 and La Liga

Ligue 1 and La Liga involve the top 20 teams in French and Spanish football respectively. Both of these competitions mainly differ in terms of their squad rules and Europa Conference League qualification.

Here is a comparison between these 2 competitions:

Number of teams involved

Both Ligue 1 and La Liga include 20 teams in the league. This is similar to the other top leagues in Europe, including:

The only top European league that does not have 20 teams is the Bundesliga, which only has 18 teams in their league.

Origin of teams

The teams in Ligue 1 originate from France, 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:

Ligue 1La Liga
PSGAtletico Madrid
LOSC LilleReal Madrid

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.

Both Ligue 1 and La Liga usually has 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 Ligue 1 and La Liga follow a double round-robin league format. Each team will play against the other 19 clubs in the league, for a total of 38 matches.

Squad size

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

Meanwhile, La Liga will have a squad size at 23.

Qualification for competition

For Ligue 1, the bottom 2 teams will be relegated, and the top 2 teams from Ligue 2 will be promoted.

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

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

The promotion from the Segunda División (tier 2 of Spanish football) to La Liga is similar to that of Ligue 1. The top 2 teams will automatically qualify for La Liga.

Meanwhile, the third promotion spot will be decided in the promotion play-offs, 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 different for both competitions:

Ligue 1La Liga
1stChampions League
Group Stage
Champions League
Group Stage
2ndChampions League
Group Stage
Champions League
Group Stage
3rdChampions League
Third Qualifying Round
Champions League
Group Stage
4thEuropa League
Group Stage
Champions League
Group Stage
5thEuropa Conference
League play-offs
Europa League
Group Stage
6thNAEuropa Conference
League play-offs

This means that La Liga 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 domestic cup (Coupe de la Ligue 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:

Ligue 1La Liga
Prize MoneyLowerLower
Qualification for
next season’s
Champions League
for Super Cup
Trophée des
de España

When comparing the 2020/21 prize money that the winners received in Ligue 1 and La Liga, La Liga winners received a higher amount of prize money (€158 million vs €60 million).

Furthermore, the winners of both Ligue 1 and La Liga will be guaranteed automatic qualification to the UEFA Champions League group stages.

In terms of the Super Cup competitions that they play, the champions of Ligue 1 will play against the Coupe de la Ligue winners in the Trophée des Champions.

Meanwhile, the champions of La Liga will play against the Copa del Rey winners in the Supercopa de España.

Dominance of teams

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

Ligue 1La Liga
PSG (7)Barcelona (5)
Monaco (1)Real Madrid (3)
Lille (1)Atletico Madrid (2)
Montpellier (1)

In Ligue 1, it has mainly been dominated by PSG, who has won 7 out of the 10 possible trophies.

Meanwhile, the La Liga title has been sort of evenly shared out among Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid.

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:

SeasonLigue 1La Liga
2020/211 (PSG)1 (Real Madrid)
2019/202 (PSG
and OL)
2018/1901 (Barcelona)
2017/1801 (Real Madrid)
2016/171 (AS
2 (Real Madrid 
and Atlético Madrid)

La Liga has more Champions League semi-finalists (5) compared to Ligue 1 (4).


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

Ligue 1La Liga
Number of teams2020
Origin of teamsFranceSpain
Duration10 months10 months
FormatDouble round-robinDouble round-robin
of matches
Squad sizeMaximum
4 non-EU players
QualificationTop 2 from Ligue 2

3rd in Ligue 2 has a playoff
with 18th in Ligue 1
Top 2 teams from
Segunda División 

Playoffs between
3rd to 6th place
Champions League
Prize MoneyLowerLower
Qualification for
next season’s
Champions League
for Super Cup
Trophée des ChampionsSupercopa de España
of teams
Mainly PSGEqually shared among
Barcelona, Real Madrid,
and Atlético Madrid
Champions League
4 semi-finalists
in the last 5 years
5 semi-finalists
in the last 5 years


Ligue 1 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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