Serie A vs Premier League

Premier League vs Serie A – What’s The Difference?

Last updated on January 24th, 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 Serie A.

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

Here’s what you need to know:

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Players Who Have Won the Champions League With 2 Different Clubs
The difference between Premier League and Serie A

The Premier League and Serie A involve the top 20 teams in English and Italian 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 Serie A have 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 Serie A originate from Italy.

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

Premier LeagueSerie A
Manchester CityJuventus
Manchester UnitedInter Milan
LiverpoolAC Milan
ChelseaAtalanta

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.

Serie A usually has a 2-week winter break, starting in mid-December and then beginning the competition again 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 Serie A 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’.

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

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 read more about the ‘homegrown’ rule in the Premier League, Serie A as well as other competitions in my guide here.

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!

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 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 Serie A will qualify for the play-offs.

In the event that 6th place wins Coppa Italia in Italy, 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 LeagueSerie A
Prize MoneyHigherLower
Qualification for next
season’s Champions League
YesYes
Qualification
for Super Cup
FA Community ShieldSupercoppa Italiana

When comparing the 2020/21 prize money that the winners received in the Premier League and Serie A, the Premier League winners received a higher amount of prize money (€184 million vs €23.4 million).

Furthermore, the winners of both the Premier League and Serie A 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 Serie A will play against the Coppa Italia winners in the Supercoppa Italania.

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 LeagueSerie A
Manchester City (5)Juventus (9)
Chelsea (2)Inter Milan (1)
Liverpool (1)
Leicester City (1)
Manchester United (1)

In Serie A, it has mainly been dominated by Juventus, who has won 9 out of the 10 possible trophies.

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 Serie A.

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:

Premier LeagueSerie A
2020/212 (Manchester City
and Chelsea)
0
2019/2000
2018/192 (Tottenham
and Liverpool)
0
2017/181 (Liverpool)1 (Roma)
2016/1701 (Juventus)

The Premier League has more Champions League semi-finalists (5) compared to Serie A (2).

Verdict

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

Premier LeagueSerie A
Number of teams2020
Origin of teamsEnglandItaly
FrequencyAnnuallyAnnually
Duration10 months10 months
FormatDouble round-robinDouble round-robin
Number of matches3838
Squad size25 (17 homegrown)25 (8 homegrown)
QualificationTop 2 from EFL Championship

3rd – 6th will play in playoffs
Top 2 from Serie B 

3rd – 8th may have playoff
Prize MoneyHigherLower
Qualification for
next season’s
Champions League
YesYes
Qualification
for Super Cup
FA Community ShieldSupercoppa Italiana
Dominance
of teams
Mainly Manchester CityMainly Juventus
Champions League
performances
(semi-finals)
5 semi-finalists
in the last 5 years
2 semi-finalists
in the last 5 years

Is the Premier League harder than Serie A?

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

Juventus has been dominating Serie A for the past 10 years. Meanwhile, there has been slightly more variety in the winners of the Premier League.

Which is better: the Premier League or Serie A?

The Premier League may be better than Serie A in terms of Champions League performances, where there are 5 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!

Conclusion

The Premier League and Serie A are 2 of the top footballing competitions in the European football season.

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

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