Spanish Football’s Most Successful Clubs, Ranked (May, 2022)

ARL Football Success Ranking System

Any club which remotely thinks it deserves the label ‘big’ should be playing in the top league of its association, buying the best players and, ideally, holding down a global brand presence. Yet it is its trophy cabinet which really sorts the economy class clubs from the business class, or even private jet ones.

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’

As the only validative measure of league quality, UEFA’s League Coefficient currently ranks Spanish football as the 2nd best in Europe (2021), having dominated UEFA’s cup contests for much of the 21st Century’s ‘teens’. It’s worth bearing that in mind when understanding why La Liga’s two powerhouses and rivals, Real Madrid and Barcelona, have such global reputations.

Alongside a supporting cast of Spanish football clubs, they have scored a whopping 336.5 Success Points in total from all international competitions.

Its top tier league, ‘La Liga’ was founded in 1929. 5 Clubs are in the ‘Big 100+’ honour roll of clubs with at least 100 Success points to their name and Real Madrid and Barcelona are two of the most successful clubs in Europe.

Spain is a nation which tries to jostle with the English Premier League’s lucrative place in the limelight by offering plenty of glamour ties against Europe’s elite for its biggest clubs, earning them plenty of dosh in the process.

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 full table of Spain’s Most Successful Clubs!

Here is the ARL countdown of Spain’s 5 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 3 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 2 Titles plus 1 UEFA Cup to its trophy cabinet in three years under its most successful manager Rafa Benitez. It won its 8th Copa del Rey as recently as 2019 by beating the league champions Barcelona in the final.

Valencia is the first club to make it into the ‘Big 100+’, coming in at 5th.

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 5 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.

Although AM has established itself as La Liga’s 3rd best club in the 21st Century, its later start in football puts it in as Spain’s 4th Most Successful Club.

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 3 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 2 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 2 La Ligas in the first half of the 1980s.

Athletic Bilbao’s huge Copa del Rey haul helps put it in 3rd place in Spain’s Most Successful Club ranking.

2. Barcelona FC

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Points: 470

First Trophy Won: RFEF Copa del Rey, 1910

Latest Trophy Won: Copa del Rey, 2021

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 1 in 4 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 4 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 3 Champions’ Leagues (CL) including 3 Titles and 2 CLs, amongst other silverware, under Pepe’s Guardiola’s leadership. He added 66 points to the club in 4 short years from 2008 – 12.

With over 450 points, this puts Barcelona in as just the 2nd Most Successful Club in Spain.

1. Real Madrid FC

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Points: 579

First Trophy Won: RFEF Copa Del Rey, 1905

Latest Trophy Won: La Liga, UEFA CL, 2022

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 7 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 5 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!

The Best of the Rest

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Although it holds just 1 La Liga Title, Sevilla FC’s profile has risen considerably in the 21st Century by winning a record 6 UEFA Europa Leagues, 3 of them won consecutively from 2014-16. That is a wonderful achievement for a club outside of the ‘El Clasico’ cartel! They come in at 6th.

8th placed Real Sociodad managed to break the status quo for a brief window from 1980 – 82, snatching 2 Titles plus a Super Cup under the guidance of ex Socio player Alberto Ormaetxea.

Success Point Table

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

UEFA SC: 4 x 2 = 8

FIFA CWC: 7 x 3 = 21

LC: 1 x 4 = 4

AC: 19 x 5 = 95

EL: 2 x 6 = 12

CL: 14 x 8 = 112

T: 35 x 9 = 315
2Barcelona FCSC: 13 x 1 = 13

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: 23 x 9 = 207

+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: 6 x 6 = 36
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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Iowa’s Route 6 – The Road Built in an Hour, 1910

To build a solid, major road, hundreds of miles long in one hour defies belief, but that is what the Iowa State authorities performed in 1910. Read how they pulled it off.

In the USA in 1910 the motorcar’s popularity was really taking off with the launch of the Model T Ford two years earlier. In Iowa State, before the U.S. Highway System came into being in 1926, roads were maintained and promoted by local organisations which sought to drive traffic into their communities.

Yet there was one major obstacle on the road to prosperity; Iowa was gaining a nasty reputation for the poor state of its roads.

They would become impassable for weeks at a time due to snow and mud, farmers weren’t able to get their products to the nearest rail station and it slowed and even halted mail delivery at times. Iowa got nicknamed the ‘gumbo state’ (gumbo being a thick brown stew).

At a Good Roads Convention in Des Moines on March 8–9, 1910 it was decided that a well maintained River-to-River Road from Davenport to Council Bluffs would help change Iowa’s reputation.

To that end 10,000 Iowans turned out one day under the White Pole Auto Club’s banner, and with thousands of picks, shovels, ploughs, and scrapers they made tremendous progress.

Amazingly, these men completed the road in just one hour; all 380 miles (612 km) of it, and with road signs erected by the day’s end!

That road is Highway 6

Governor Carroll arranged for the farmers who lived along the route to work on the road (

Now, Iowa possessed a road that within a year was widely recognised as the standard of the world.

This is a real road, and even when the ocean-to-ocean highway shall be a fact in the luxurious future, transcontinental automobile travellers may continue to look forward to this particular stretch in pleasant anticipation.” wrote Victor Eubank, after completing the pioneering Raymond and Whitcomb cross-country tour in 1912.


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Wuppertal’s Suspension Railway – The Steampunk Train

Read about how the Wuppertal Schwebebahn came to be and its 120 years of service

This is the story of the oldest suspension railway in the world. But its origins go back much further than when it first opened for business at the turn of the 20th Century.

Railway from The Future

Film footage (below) from its first year in operation will have steampunk aficionados salivating; heavily dressed pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages throng wide avenues that are lined with trees and classical townhouses.

An elegant iron carriage glides serenely overhead along a suspended rail held together by a framework of struts elevated, in turn, by curved pillars that straddle the road.

The carriage continues over Wuppertal’s narrow river as the sun gleams, passing by pedestrians, bridges and grand facades through this seemingly illustrious German city.

An urban setting from the 19th Century juxtaposed with an engineering portent from the future.

Bold Blueprints

It was in 1824 when a British Engineer named Henry Robinson Palmer found a very receptive audience in Germany to designs of a horse-drawn elevated monorail; an outlandish mode of transport in its own right.

This was a time when the Wupper valley was blossoming into a rich industrial heartland, supplying the flourishing 2nd Reich with coal and steel — two vital ingredients for any global power.

Friedrich Harkort, a Prussian industrial entrepreneur and politician, loved the idea. He saw big advantages in transporting coal to his own steel mill in the area and built a demonstration segment of the Palmer system. The project was ultimately shelved, however, because of objections from more myopic parties.

As the 19th Century progressed and the fledgeling German nation began to flex its muscles, the Wupper valley continued to burgeon and flourish into an industrial powerhouse as even more industries emerged, such as textiles and Friedrich Bayer’s chemical company

The towns of Barmen and Elberfeld developed until they merged to become ‘Wupper-town’. As it prospered, its streets got ever more crowded. By 1879 Elberfeld Zoo was built, and the roads leading to it would get jammed with horse-drawn carriages on the weekends. In 1887 a proposal for an elevated train re-emerged.

Carl Eugene Langen, as one of those brilliant brains who could excel at all sorts of ventures he threw himself into, was a successful inventor, engineer and entrepreneur.

He helped to design the advanced flying piston engine for which he received the gold medal at the Paris World Exhibition of 1867, then founded the Pfeifer & Langen sugar manufacturer that still exists to this day.

It was in the 1890s that Langen started yet another venture in developing rail vehicles through the van der Zypen & Charlier wagon factory, and his suspension railway project came into being.

Before Wuppertal’s civic leaders were approached Langen touted his railway to other cities such as Cologne, and even Berlin, but they rejected his bold blueprints.

However, Wuppertal’s citizens had become very rich and they were ambitious about maximising their up-and-coming city’s potential.

Wuppertal being a uniquely lineal city, owing to the steep hillsides along the river Wupper, was suited to a single line railway project, so they accepted Langen’s proposal.

Its municipal leaders also made the inspired decision to build the railway over the river to eschew the costs of buying up private land to build it over.

Construction of the space-age marvel began in 1898. As it took shape the city merchants were proud that their ‘Silicone Valley’ was at the forefront of technological innovation and invited the German Kaiser to take part in a test run.

To much fanfare, Kaiser Wilhelm II and his wife took the Schwebebahn for a test run and commented in the typically staid tones of 19th Century royalty that it was ‘both practical and pleasant’.

The city wanted the Kaiser to announce his seal of approval for the whole German Empire to hear, and they got it; Wuppertal was now on the world map.

A Big Hit from Day One

The 8.3 mile (13.3 kilometre) long and 12m (39ft) high railway entered service in 1901 whilst England’s Queen Victoria still sat on the throne and was a hit from day one.

The project used around 19,200 tonnes of steel to construct, and it cost 16 million gold marks.

Also in Germany, Dresden’s suspension railway was also opened in 1901 (

It is a measure of achievement that Langen also opened the Dresden Suspension Railway, a 274m funicular version the same year and both railways have stood the test of time.

Train Troubles

It hasn’t always been smooth going for the Schwebebahn, however.

As an industrial center Wuppertal inevitably suffered extensive bomb damage during World War II, yet the railway was brought back into service just one year after the war’s end.

In 1950 some Althoff Circus manager had the not-so-bright idea to organize a publicity stunt by putting an infant elephant, later named Tuffi (meaning ‘waterdive’ in Italian) on a train.

But riding the train didn’t turn out to be to Tuffi’s liking.

A photographer catches the moment ‘Tuffi’ falls from a carriage (

Jostled by the accompanying press in the crowded carriage, the elephant lost its cool and busted through the side and out into the river below.

Fortunately, she was fine, suffering only a bruised rump. Both operator and circus director were fined after the incident, however.

In April 1999 the railway suffered its first, and to date, only fatal accident when workers failed to remove a metal claw on the track after completing maintenance work. It derailed a carriage and it plunged into the river, killing five passengers and injuring 47.

Wuppertal’s Suspension Train in the Modern Era

Now, the Schwebebahn still serves the city of over 300,000 and transported 25 million passengers in 2008.

Wuppertal’s Suspended Railway today (

It continues to awe visitors and Wuppertalians alike with its architectural style and practicality.

It is truly Wuppertal’s ‘Iron Backbone’.


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