Spain’s 15 Most Successful Football Clubs, Ranked (June, 2023)

ARL Football Success Ranking System

The ARL Football Success Ranking System for men’s European club football establishes for certain which clubs are the most successful of each nation and in the whole of Europe. It is a system of scoring points to clubs based on what trophies and how many have been won.

Different trophies score different points and are based on a ‘glory’ criteria. Only ‘competitive football’ trophies are considered.

Spanish Football and its ‘La Liga’

The top tier league, ‘La Liga’ was founded in 1929 and no less than five clubs have won at least 100 Success Points.

Spain’s two powerhouses and rivals, Real Madrid and Barcelona, have huge global reputations because they’ve been incredibly successful in Europe over the decades. Alongside a supporting cast of other Spanish football clubs, they have scored a whopping 347.5 success points in total from all international competitions. This makes Spain the most successful in UEFA/FIFA competition.

La Liga jostles with the English Premier League for a lucrative place in the limelight by offering plenty of glamour ties against Europe’s other elite clubs.

Competition KeyPoints
SC: Domestic ‘Super Cup’ (RFEF Spanish Super Cup)1
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup3
LC: League Cup (Copa de la Liga)4
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League4
AC: Association Cup (RFEF Copa Del Rey)5
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League8
T: Top Tier League Title (La Liga)9

Scroll down to the bottom to view the table of Spain’s 15 most successful clubs!

5. Valencia FC

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Points: 109.5

First Trophy Won: RFEF Copa del Rey, 1941

Latest Trophy Won: RFEF Copa del Rey, 2019

Most Successful Manager: Rafa Benitez – 24 points (2001-2004)

Founded in 1919 and only competing for the Copa del Rey for the first time in 1923, Valencia sat in the background of the Spanish football scene until blowing up shortly after the Civil War, winning its first ever trophy in 1941. It followed this up with three La Ligas throughout the rest of the 1940s and this set the tone for ambition with mixed results.

The club has managed to win major trophies in every decade since, except the 80s, including its 3rd La Liga under ex Real Madrid legend Alfredo de Stefano in 1970 and it added another two Titles plus 1 UEFA Cup to its trophy cabinet in three years under its most successful manager Rafa Benitez. It won its eighth Copa del Rey as recently as 2019 by beating the league champions Barcelona in the final.

4. Atletico Madrid

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Points: 184.5

First Trophy Won: La Liga, 1940

Latest Trophy Won: La Liga, 2021

Most Successful Manager: Diego Simeone – 40 points (2011 – present (2021))

A club founded by three Basque students in 1903, Atletico Madrid (AM) was only intended to be a subsidiary branch of Basque club Athletic Bilbao who the three saw win the Copa del Rey in that year. It became independent in 1921 however and, like Valencia, it would come into its own after the Civil War; it won La Ligas consecutively at the start of the 1940s and again at the start of the ‘50s. The club also won the King’s Cup twice in a row at the start of the ‘60s and again at the start of the ‘90s.

La Liga in the Postmodern era has been characterised by an increasingly stifling dominance by the ‘Real – Barca’ rivalry, hogging financial resources and the talent pool in the process. It’s been refreshing to see a third club find success of their own, largely under the reign of their most successful manager Simeone, grabbing five UEFA trophies, another Copa del Rey, then crowning it with another La Liga Title in 2014.

AM were crowned Spanish champions yet again in 2021.

3. Athletic Bilbao FC

Points: 190

First Trophy Won: RFEF Copa del Rey, 1903

Latest Trophy Won: RFEF Super Cup, 2021

Most Successful Manager: Fred Pentland – 43 points (1922-1925 and 1929-1933)

A club with the unique distinction of employing the cantera policy, which limits it to recruiting exclusively from the Greater Basque Region, is a founding member of La Liga. Los Leones (The Lions) featured prominently in early Copa del Rey editions prior to La Liga’s inception in 1928, winning three in a row, from 1914 – 16, for example.

Athletic has its roots in the late 19th Century with a heavy British influence. Most of its managers were also British up until the early ‘30s, including its most successful manager Fred Pentland. Implementing a pioneering short passing style of play, he led Athletic to two League/Cup ‘doubles’ in 1930 and 1931 and under him the club didn’t share the King’s Cup with anyone from 1930 until 1933.

It continued to vie with Barca and Real Madrid (RM) for Spanish dominance until the latter half of the 20th Century which inevitably saw its small recruitment pool handicap them against the rest of Spanish clubs’ ever expanding recruiting networks. Major trophies have come ever harder to come by although, under the stewardship of Javier Clemente, a dour yet effective playing style would see Athletic haul in another two La Ligas in the first half of the 1980s.

Athletic Bilbao’s huge Copa del Rey haul helps make it one of Spain’s most celebrated footballing institutions.

2. Barcelona FC

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Points: 480

First Trophy Won: RFEF Copa del Rey, 1910

Latest Trophy Won: La Liga, RFEF Super Cup 2022-23

Most Successful Manager: Pepe Guardiola – 66 points (2008-2012)

Standing alone as the only club able to loosen Real Madrid’s stranglehold over La Liga, Catalan top dog Barcelona is its fierce rival and a global giant in its own right. It falls short of the 500 Success points mark but has a record 150 points from the Copa del Rey alone, winning more than one in four of every trophy won. It clinched the first ever La Liga in 1930 before its founder, Hans Gamper, tragically took his own life a year later.

The 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s were sparse decades for Titles, though it filled its trophy cabinet with Copa del Reys and no less than four UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups in the 80s. Its superpower status really took off in the ’90s and on into the 21st Century. It managed to win itself three Champions’ Leagues (CL) including three Titles and two CLs, amongst other silverware, under Pepe’s Guardiola’s leadership. He added 66 points to the club in four short years from 2008–12.

1. Real Madrid FC

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Points: 589

First Trophy Won: RFEF Copa Del Rey, 1905

Latest Trophy Won: RFEF Copa del Rey, Super Cup, 2022-23

Most Successful Manager: Miguel Munoz – 110 points (1959-1974)

Real Madrid (RM) is arguably the biggest club in the world by virtually every yardstick and it has the success to match, passing the stratospheric 500 point mark. The club has a record 14 Champions’ League trophies, no less than eight Intercontinental Cups/FIFA Club World Cups, and dozens of Titles.

The club was founded in 1902 and RM won its first Copa del Rey soon after in 1905. Under the ambitious stewardship of Santiago Bernabéu Yeste from 1945 RM embarked on a policy of buying up the cream of European talent and creating teams of Galacticos. From then on it’s laid down a firm dominance over La Liga, grabbing roughly one in every three Titles ever won.

The first of those Galacticos, Alfredo di Stefano, launched RM into the big time as it jumped into the new big thing – International matchups formally governed by UEFA. When the European Cup was launched in 1955, RM won the first five on the trot.

As they say, the rest is history. ‘Royal Madrid’ truly are the kings of football. It is not only the most successful club in Spain, but in the whole of Europe!

Spain’s 15 Most Successful Clubs of All Time

PositionFootball ClubSuccess Points SubtotalsSuccess Points Total
1Real Madrid FCSC: 12 x 1 = 12

UEFA SC: 5 x 2 = 10

FIFA CWC: 8 x 3 = 24

LC: 1 x 4 = 4

AC: 20 x 5 = 100

EL: 2 x 6 = 12

CL: 14 x 8 = 112

T: 35 x 9 = 315
2Barcelona FCSC: 14 x 1 = 14

UEFA SC: 5 x 2 = 10

FIFA CWC: 3 x 3 = 9

LC: 2 x 4 = 8

AC: 31 x 5 = 155

UEFA CWC: 4 x 6.5 = 26

CL: 5 x 8 = 40

T: 24 x 9 = 216

+2 Trebles
3Athletic Bilbao FCSC: 3 x 1 = 3

AC: 23 x 5 = 115

T: 8 x 9 = 72
4Atletico Madrid FCSC: 2 x 1 = 2

UEFA SC: 3 x 2 = 6

FIFA CWC: 1 x 3 = 3

AC: 10 x 5 = 50

EL: 3 x 6 = 18

UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5

T: 11 x 9 = 99
5Valencia FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1

UEFA SC: 1 x 2 = 2

AC: 8 x 5 = 40

EL: 1 x 6 = 6

UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5

T: 6 x 9 = 54
6Sevilla FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1
UEFA SC: 1 x 2 = 2
AC: 5 x 5 = 25
EL: 7 x 6 = 42
T: 1 x 9 = 9
7Real Zaragoza FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 6 x 5 = 30
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
8Real Sociedad FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 2 x 5 = 10
T: 2 x 9 = 18
9Real Betis FCAC: 3 x 5 = 15
T: 1 x 9 = 9
10Deportivo de la Coruna FCSC: 3 x 1 = 3
AC: 2 x 5 = 10
T: 1 x 9 = 9
=11RCD Espanyol FC
Real Unión Club de Irún
AC: 4 x 5 = 2020
=13RCD Mallorca FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 1 x 5 = 5
=13Villareal CFEL: 1 x 6 = 66
15Real Valladolid FCLC: 1 x 4 = 44

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