Premier League vs La Liga

Premier League vs La Liga – What’s The Difference?

Last updated on January 16th, 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 Premier League and La Liga.

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

Here’s what you need to know:

The difference between Premier League and La Liga

The Premier League and La Liga involve the top 20 teams in English 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 the Premier League 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 the Premier League originate from England, 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:

Premier LeagueLa Liga
Manchester CityAtletico Madrid
Manchester UnitedReal 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.

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.

In contrast, the Premier League does not have a fixed winter break, where all teams will be resting at once.

To keep up with the television broadcasting contracts, the Premier League will have a split winter break, where some teams will take a break, while others will continue to play.

Format of competition

Both the Premier League 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

Each club in the Premier League can only have 25 players. A maximum of 17 players are considered to be ‘non-homegrown’.

You can read more about the ‘homegrown’ rule in the Premier League as well as other competitions in my guide here.

A maximum of 9 substitutes can be included in the match squad for Premier League teams.

Meanwhile, La Liga has a slightly smaller squad size at 23.

Qualification for competition

To qualify to be in the Premier League, your team will need to be in the top 20 football teams in the English football pyramid. If they are starting at the bottom of the pyramid, they will need to get promoted to the different tiers, and ultimately reach the Premier League.

One of the most gruelling competitions is the EFL Championship, which is the second tier of English football. There are 24 teams that are competing for 3 spots in the Premier League.

The teams that are in 3rd to 6th place will compete in the Championship playoffs. This is one of the most intense competitions, especially since there is a Premier League spot at stake!

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

Meanwhile, the third promotion spot will be similarly 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 same for the top 5 teams in both competitions:

League positionQualification for
UEFA Competition
Top 4 teamsChampions League
group stage
5thEuropa League
group stage

For the qualification to the Europa Conference League, the 6th team in La Liga will qualify for the play-offs.

In the event that 6th place wins the Copa del Rey in Spain, they will qualify for the Europa League and not the Europa Conference League.

Meanwhile, the winners of the EFL Cup in England will qualify for the Europa Conference League play-offs, instead of the 6th-placed team.

Rewards for winning competition

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

Premier LeagueLa Liga
Prize MoneyHigherLower
Qualification for next
season’s Champions League
for Super Cup
FA Community ShieldSupercopa
de España

When comparing the 2020/21 prize money that the winners received in the Premier League and La Liga, the Premier League winners received a higher amount of prize money (€184 million vs €158 million).

Furthermore, the winners of both the Premier League 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 La Liga will play against the Copa del Rey winners in the Supercopa de España.

Meanwhile, the Premier League winners will play against the FA Cup winners in the FA Community Shield.

Dominance of teams

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

Premier LeagueLa Liga
Manchester City (5)Barcelona (5)
Chelsea (2)Real Madrid (3)
Liverpool (1)Atletico Madrid (2)
Leicester City (1)
Manchester United (1)

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

Meanwhile, the Premier League has been ‘slightly’ more competitive, as there have been 5 different winners for the past 10 years.

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

As such, the Premier League may be slightly more exciting to watch compared to La Liga.

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:

SeasonPremier LeagueLa Liga
2020/212 (Manchester City
and Chelsea)
1 (Real Madrid)
2018/192 (Tottenham
and Liverpool)
1 (Barcelona)
2017/181 (Liverpool)1 (Real Madrid)
2016/1702 (Real Madrid
and Atlético Madrid)

Both leagues have provided an equal number of Champions League semi-finalists in the past 5 years (5).


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

Premier LeagueLa Liga
Number of teams2020
Origin of teamsEnglandSpain
Duration10 months10 months
of matches
Squad size25
(17 homegrown)
QualificationTop 2 from EFL

3rd – 6th will
play in playoffs
Top 2 teams from
Segunda División 

Playoffs between
3rd to 6th place
Prize MoneyHigherLower
Qualification for
next season’s
Champions League
for Super Cup
FA Community ShieldSupercopa
de España
of teams
Mainly Manchester CityEqually shared among
Barcelona, Real Madrid,
and Atlético Madrid
Champions League
performances (semi-finals)
5 semi-finalists
in last 5 years
5 semi-finalists
in last 5 years

Is the Premier League harder than La Liga?

The Premier League may be considered to be harder than La Liga as there have been a wider variety of winners in the Premier League compared to La Liga.

Which is better: the Premier League or La Liga?

Both the Premier League and La Liga may be considered to be of almost equal calibre in terms of Champions League performances, where both leagues have produced the same number of Champions League semi-finalists in the past 5 years (5).

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 Premier League and La Liga are 2 of the top footballing competitions in the European football season.

Based solely on the Champions League performances, both leagues seem to be of similar calibre!

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