Number of Games in a Soccer Season: In many parts of the world, soccer is undoubtedly one of the most widely-followed sports globally. This fascinating game’s rhythm, strategy, and thrill attract millions of fans who eagerly follow their favorite teams through various matches every season.
However, the number of games in a soccer season is not straightforward and varies depending on several factors, including the league, country, and the team’s success in various competitions.
This article explores these intricacies in depth to comprehensively understand how many games there might be in a soccer season.
Domestic League Games
To begin, each soccer league has its distinctive structure and schedule. For instance, the English Premier League (EPL) includes 20 teams, and each team plays the other twice: at home and once away. This results in a total of 38 league matches in a season.
On the other hand, Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States and Canada features 27 teams as of 2023, divided into Eastern and Western conferences. These teams compete in 34 games during a regular season, featuring both intra-conference and inter-conference games.
In contrast, the Brazilian Serie A, Argentina’s Primera Division, and other leagues in South America follow a system called Apertura and Clausura, where the season is split into two halves, each featuring a complete round-robin schedule.
Domestic Cup Competitions
In addition to the league games, teams participate in domestic cup competitions. In England, teams play in the FA Cup and the League Cup (Carabao Cup), which are knockout tournaments. The number of games played in these competitions depends on how far a team progresses.
A team that reaches the final will play six games in the FA Cup and potentially up to seven in the League Cup, depending on whether they’re exempt from the earlier rounds.
Similarly, other countries have domestic cup competitions, like Copa Del Rey in Spain, DFB-Pokal in Germany, and Brasil in Brazil.
There are also continental competitions for top-performing teams, such as the UEFA Champions League in Europe and the Copa Libertadores in South America. The format of these competitions may vary, but typically they involve a group stage and subsequent knockout rounds.
A team reaching the Champions League final will play at least 13 matches: 6 in the group stage, and 7 in the knockout rounds.
Beyond the club commitments, players might also be involved in international games with their national teams. These include qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup or continental championships, such as the UEFA European Championship, the AFC Asian Cup, the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, or the Copa America.
These fixtures can add many games to a player’s season.
Friendly Matches and Tournaments
Lastly, it’s important to note the friendly matches, typically non-competitive games played for training or promotional activities. These can occur in pre-season tournaments, mid-season international breaks, or post-season tours.
Clubs also partake in pre-season tournaments like the International Champions Cup, where top teams from different leagues compete as part of their preparations. While these games do not count toward any official competition, they still contribute to the total number of matches a team plays in a season.
In conclusion, the number of soccer games in a season can vary significantly based on the league, the team’s performance in cup competitions, and the players’ international commitments.
On the lower end, a team might play around 40 games in a season, but for top teams competing on multiple fronts, the number could easily exceed 60 games, making the soccer calendar very hectic.
It’s an intricate system that requires careful management of players’ fitness and squad depth, but it also makes soccer a continuously engaging and exciting sport for fans worldwide.