How Many Games in a Soccer Season?

One of the principal appeals of soccer as a sport is that in theory, it never ends!

Seasons are played, over the course of invariably 7 to 10 months, with a winner crowned. From there, the teams and players take a break and the cycle traditionally repeats, with the season recommencing once more.

Another of the USP’s for soccer is the concept of the season. Cup competitions present an opportunity for teams to get on a roll, win a handful of games and potentially snare a piece of silverware at the end of the campaign.

Seasons however, are played out over many matches and the struggle of taking part in a season is often the ultimate barometer as to which team is the best in any given division.

There is no definitive answer as to how many games are in a soccer season, as each competition across the world does things differently – some leagues are simply, whoever is top of the table after so many games, wins, whilst others host an end of season play-off competition to determine the overall league winner.

Regardless of how many games are in a ‘regular’ soccer season, it often makes for thrilling viewing and any side that comes out on top at the end of the season, is deserved of the accolades and awards coming its way.

soccer fans in stadium

Competition Formats

The predominance of regular soccer league seasons are carried out over a double round-robin competition, meaning sides play each other twice across the course of a season.

Consequently, the number of games in any league season is determined by how many teams are in the league.

E.g., if there are 20 sides in the league, each team will play 38 games – playing all other 19 sides in the league twice (home and away).

As mentioned, this is not only seen as the traditional gold standard in terms of soccer league formatting but is also the ultimate barometer as to which team goes on to win the league title at the end of the season.

Some exceptions to these competition formats come in the form of end-of-season play-offs, an approach often used across many sports such as baseball, ice-hockey, and American football.

However, these instances are few and far between and most regular league seasons end once all the matches in the competition have been completed.

Here is a rundown of some of the biggest leagues in world soccer and how games they play during the season:

English Premier League

38 games per team

760 matches in total

The well-publicized wealth and stature of the English Premier League makes it one of the biggest sporting competitions on the planet.

Front and centre to the appeal for the Premier League is the fact that in theory, all of the sides can beat each other and seldom do sides run away with the league title.

Adopting a very traditional double round-robin format, the Premier League sees sides benefit hugely from playing each other both home and away during a regular campaign and invariably the best side in the league goes on to lift the coveted title.

Manchester City are the defending English Premier League champions, with the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all vying once more to take the championship away from them.

All 760 matches played during a Premier League season are showpiece events, with sold-out stadiums and billions of dollars in TV rights, the English Premier League sets the standard for soccer leagues around the world.

arsenal premier league stadium

Spanish La Liga

38 games per team

760 matches in total

In a similar vein to the English Premier League, La Liga in Spain very much sets the standard for world soccer and homes some of the biggest sides in the world.

All 20 teams in the top division in Spain are sporting institutions and ensuring they stay in La Liga come the end of the campaign, once they have played their 38 games, is an absolute priority.

With the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona battling it out for supremacy, the stakes in La Liga are sky high every season and the 38 game format always sets up an intriguing battle.

The likes of Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Real Sociedad are also well within the reckoning these days too, making it one of the most intriguing league formats in world soccer.

With sell-out crowds every week and millions of TV viewers, La Liga remains one of the biggest competitions in world soccer and that is showing no sign of slowing any time soon.

Italian Serie A

38 games per team

760 matches in total

Italy has long been an international soccer hotbed and in 2021, they affirmed that belief with their impressive international win at Euro 2020.

Domestically, Italian sides have huffed and puffed in European competition in recent seasons but the passion and love for the game is showing no signs of wavering across the country.

Serie A is a hugely competitive league, with Juventus dominating in the mid-2010’s but Inter Milan and AC Milan have both come roaring back in recent years.

The traditional 20 team, double round robin format continues to be used in Serie A, with each match bringing towns and cities across the land to a standstill every weekend.

Avoiding dropping down into Serie B is also a priority for lots of sides plying their trade in Serie A, making every game fiercely competitive, another huge selling point for Serie A.

international soccer fans

French Ligue 1

38 games per team

760 matches in total

French soccer has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in years, thanks in the main to the investment brought into Ligue 1 by Paris Saint Germain.

In terms of format, it mirrors many top competitions across Europe, with 20 sides battling it out across the course of the season from August to May.

With PSG enabling themselves to win multiple Ligue 1 championships due their new found wealth, experts feared that French Ligue 1 would become too predictable.

However, this has not proven to be the case, as the likes of Lille, Lyon, Monaco, and Marseille have all enjoyed their moments in the sun in Ligue 1 and the league continues to grow in stature.

Attendances and fan consumption in France is also on the rise too, a glowing inditement for the game of soccer in the country.

German Bundesliga

34 games per team

612 matches in total

Playing with the traditional form somewhat is the German Bundesliga, who only have 18 teams in their top division.

Consequently, there are 34 matches played per team, on a double round robin format, 17 at home and 17 away.

In turn, there are significantly less matches that take place across the course of the Bundesliga season too – with 612 games played, as opposed to 760 in the other major European leagues.

That said, it does not however dilute from the quality of the Bundesliga, which has long been one of European soccer’s premiere competitions.

Bayern Munich have traditionally ruled the roost in the Bundesliga, but the likes of Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach are all very much in the running for accolades at the end of any given Bundesliga campaign.

Portuguese Primeira Liga

34 games per team

612 matches in total

Following a similar pattern is the Primeira Liga in Portugal, where 18 sides battle it out each season.

The reduction ins teams inevitably has an impact on the number of games played during the regular season, but the double round robin format always throws up its share of thrills and spills in Portugal.

Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, and FC Porto have long been the teams to catch in Portugal’s top flight and that is showing no signs of relenting any time soon.

However, the overall standard of the Portuguese Primeira Liga is developing exponentially and it is very much a competition on the rise within the world soccer playing sphere.

soccer crowd cheering

Dutch Eredivisie

34 games per team

612 matches in total

The Netherlands is the archetypal soccer playing hotbed and the league format adopted in the country mirrors that of neighbouring Germany.

Soccer is absolutely the national sport in the Netherlands and whilst the orange army comes out in force when the national team is playing, the Eredivisie is very much the bread and butter for most Dutch soccer enthusiasts.

Ajax are one of the most successful soccer teams in the world and they along with PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord to much of the front running in the Eredivisie.

That doesn’t impact upon the competition as a whole however as there are some thrilling encounters every week in Dutch soccer and the passion from the stands always translates onto the pitch.

Brazilian Brasileirão

38 games per team

760 matches in total

Arguably the most passionate soccer playing country in the world, Brazil’s domestic Brasileirão competition continues to grow in stature.

With 20 incredible sides, all partaking in a double round robin across the course of the campaign, the competition is fierce, and each match is a serious event.

No sides dominate the Brasileirão for huge periods of time, testament to the overall standard of the competition.

Atletico Mineiro are the defending champions, with Flamengo, Palmeiras and Corinthians invariably in the end of season discussions too, making it one of the most intriguing soccer leagues the world over.

Argentine Super League

38 games per team

950 matches in total

Breaking the mould somewhat with the traditional league formatting is the Argentine Super League, that breaks the top level competition in the country into two phases.

The first stage of the competition sees the 26 teams broken into two leagues of 13, with each side playing each other once in a single round robin format.

From there, qualification for the second phase is made, with sides placed on how they performed in the first phase.

A further 25 matches are played, with each side playing each other again on a single round robin format, with the ultimate winner then crowned.

This move away from the traditional approach has not impacted at all on the level of soccer in Argentina and the usual big hitters are still very much in the running in terms of accolades.

River Plate are the defending Argentinian champions, whilst the likes of Boca Juniors and Estudiantes continue to push them all the way.

How many games in a soccer season?

Defining how many matches take place in a single soccer season very much depends on which competition is being referenced to and where in the world the league is being held.

Regardless of whether leagues adopt an 18-team, 20-team or any other format, the league is the same for every side at the start of the season and winning a league title is seen as the ultimate accolade for any soccer team, their players and their fans.