The 30 Biggest Football Cities in the World

    Trent Alexander-Arnold has a mural on a terrace house in Liverpool | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

    Football, just like Play-Doh, gets everywhere.

    Given the sport is so accessible worldwide, most countries across the globe have a special affinity with the beautiful game.

    Flares, drums, flags, a pie and a pint – you name it, somewhere a football fan is incorporating it into their matchday routine.

    Here are the 30 biggest football cities in world football – ranked.

    Paris Saint-Germain v Olympique Lyonnais - UEFA Women's Champions League Semi Final
    San Mames, Athletic Club’s stadium | Pool/Getty Images

    Bilbao is the home of Athletic Club, who are famous for their approach to player recruitment.

    They only employ players who have a clear connection to the Basque Country or Navarre, while those from Basque speaking areas of France of with Basque ancestry are also picked up.

    They usually make a pretty penny when they sell their stars, while the San Mames was chosen as one of the stadiums to host games at Euro 2020.

    Jose Dos Santos Mourinho, Nuno Valente
    Jose Mourinho won the Champions League with Porto in 2004 | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Jose Mourinho brought Porto back to the big time in 2004, winning the Champions League.

    Azuis e Brancos are behind only rivals Benfica for total league titles won in Portugal with 29 and won last season’s championship by five points.

    Bonus nugget; the city is twinned with Bristol, Nagasaki, Bangkok and Shanghai, which is a better selection than most.

    Leeds United v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet Championship
    Coronavirus measures didn’t stop some Leeds fans from celebrating their promotion earlier in 2020 | Michael Regan/Getty Images

    It took them a while, but Leeds are finally back in the Premier League. One of the biggest teams in England, United have a loyal set of supporters who have backed them from League One all the way back to the top flight.

    They’ve got thick skin too – you have to in able to deal with seeing your side managed by Paul Heckingbottom or Uwe Rosler.

    FK Partizan v Fk Crvena Zvezda - Serbian Cup Semi Final
    Those fans look up for it | Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

    Teams never like drawing a side from Belgrade, Serbia, mainly because their fans are just so noisy and fierce.

    Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade are the city’s two most prominent clubs – the former won the Champions League in 1991 and the latter came second in 1961.

    Genoa CFC v SSC Napoli - Serie A
    Genoa’s Stadio Luigi Ferraris | Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

    Genoa hosts two high profile Italian teams – Genoa, the oldest club in the country, and fierce rivals Sampdoria.

    Genoa have won nine league titles, though the last came in 1924, to Sampdoria’s one from 1991.

    Darlan Mendes
    Internacional and Gremio met in the 2020 Copa Libertadores | Pool/Getty Images

    Gremio and Internacional share a bitter rivalry in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil. Both sides have won league titles, the Copa Libertadores and the Club World Cup.

    The rivalry, known as the Grenal, is known for its high emotions and competitiveness and goes beyond just football.

    Pogba silenced a few critics at the 2018 World Cup | FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

    The 2018 World Cup was a memorable one. Sure, it might have ended badly for England, but the quality of football on display in Russia was very high. Which makes it all ok.

    Moscow’s final was an exciting one, France beating Croatia 4-2 with great goals and goalkeeping gaffes aplenty.

    The city also boasts domestic title winners in Spartak Moscow, CSKA Moscow, Dynamo Moscow, Torpedo Moscow and Lokomotiv Moscow.

    Diego Maradona
    Diego Maradona is an icon in Naples | Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Diego Maradona had such a positive impact at Napoli that the club retired their number ten shirt in his honour.

    Football is deeply embedded in the city’s culture, all the way from street sport to the professional game.

    Estadio Centenario with a sea of yellow shirts | PABLO PORCIUNCULA/Getty Images

    Just look at Estadio Centenario – it’s a proper football cathedral.

    In Montevideo, Uruguay’s top two teams – Nacional and Penarol – clash in one of South America’s biggest derbies. It’s one of the oldest rivalries in world football and is always worth a gander.

    France v Albania - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier
    Stade de France is the nation’s main stadium | Xavier Laine/Getty Images

    How often do you hear the story of a footballer who grew up playing football on the streets in Paris, usually using a bunch of socks tied together as a ball?

    Maybe the city should build a few more concrete pitches, but it does add a touch of romance to those backstories.

    Paris Saint-Germain, founded in 1970, is the city’s most prominent club.

    No, it's not the Emirates - it's Benfica's Estadio da Luz
    No, it’s not the Emirates – it’s Benfica’s Estadio da Luz | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

    Flying into Lisbon, you can end up flying over both Benfica’s Estadio da Luz and Sporting CP’s Estádio José Alvalade. They’re recognisable by their red and green roofs.

    The city was in full swing back in 2016, when Portugal the European Championship. The roar when Eder scored the winner in the final against France was otherworldly.

    AS Roma v SS Lazio - Serie A
    Stadio Olimpico is a great setting for a football match | Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

    Stadio Olimpico is one of the world’s most breathtaking stadiums, even if you are a few miles from the action up in the stands. Roma and Lazio play out the Derby della Capitale – they’re very different clubs, both in a football sense and politically.

    Plus the walk through Rome to the Olimpico is a great one, especially if you stop for some pizza on the way.

    Borussia Dortmund v Hannover 96 - Bundesliga
    A pretty big wall that, eh? | Jörg Schüler/Getty Images

    If you bring up Dortmund in any football conversation, a friend will likely bring up the Yellow Wall in return. 25,000 fans can fit in that stand. Pretty impressive.

    BVB have won eight Bundesliga titles and the Champions League once – their stadium, Signal Iduna Park, is the biggest in Germany.

    Cristian Tello, Jesus Navas Gonzalez
    Sevilla and Real Betis in El Gran Derbi | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

    It’s not just Sevilla who ply their trade in Seville. Real Betis also feature in Andalusia, with the two teams playing out the Gran Derbi.

    Both sides have won La Liga just once, though Sevilla have become known as a force on the continent due to their Europa League successes.

    Gonzalo Higuaín, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini
    Juventus have dominated Serie A in recent years | Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

    You might think Juventus are great, you might think Juventus are boring, but their footballing dynasty has helped put Turin on the map – even if the city is already a hub of culture and history.

    Juve also enjoy a rivalry with Torino, who are also based in Turin, with the derby called the Derby della Mole. Great name.

    Olympiacos FC v Arsenal FC - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: First Leg
    Olympiacos are one of Greece’s biggest teams. | Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    Athens’ teams dominate Greek football. In the top flight’s entire history, AEK Athens, Olympiacos and Panathinaikos have won 76 of 83 available championships.

    If you’ve watched the Champions League at all over the last 20 years or so, you’ll know commentators big up Greece’s stadiums as ‘tough places to go’. They’re rarely wrong, too.

    Cruz Azul v America - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX
    Estadio Azteca – truly breathtaking | Jam Media/Getty Images

    Mexico City hosted roughly a billion World Cup games during the 1970s and 1980s. What? Mexico only hosted twice? In 1970 and 1986? Oh. Well that’s that illusion smashed then.

    Regardless, they were two iconic World Cups and Estadio Azteca, home of both Club America and Cruz Azul, is one of the world’s greatest stadiums.

    Bayern beat PSG in 2020’s Champions League final | LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

    Both 1860 Munich and Bayern Munich enjoy brilliant support in the most populous city of Bavaria.

    Bayern are Germany’s most successful football team and won the 2019/20 Champions League. They’re probably going to be good for a little longer yet, too.

    Johan Cruyff
    Johan Cruyff is an Ajax legend | R. Powell/Getty Images

    Amsterdam’s Ajax have played a massive role in shaping European football throughout the years.

    Rinus Michels’ Total Football philosophy was first implemented at Ajax and soon became synonymous with the Netherlands side of the 1970s.

    Lee McCulloch, Darren O'Dea
    There are tackles aplenty in the Old Firm | Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

    It doesn’t matter how much you follow Scottish football. All fans check in for the Old Firm.

    While Partick Thistle and Queen’s Park also play their football in Glasgow, most fans are either of a Celtic or Rangers persuasion.

    The Bhoys have been dominant for years, but the Gers are starting to reduce the gap.

    Marco Materazzi and Rui Costa in one of football's most iconic images
    Marco Materazzi and Rui Costa in one of football’s most iconic images | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Derby della Madonnina. Two of Italy’s biggest teams going at it in the fashion capital of the world. What’s not to love?

    Paolo Maldini. Javier Zanetti. Giuseppe Meazza. Milan and Inter’s styles may be more pragmatic nowadays, but there’s still an air of romanticism when you mention the derby.

    Galatasaray’s clash with Fenerbahce is known as the Intercontinental derby | OZAN KOSE/Getty Images

    Over in Turkey, you’ve got the three biggest teams in the country all competing for the Super Lig and each hailing from the same city. Being in charge of public transport on matchdays in Istanbul must be a nightmare.

    Galatasaray are the most successful when it comes to league titles, winning the Super Lig 22 times to Fenerbahce’s 19 and Besiktas’ 15.

    Sir Alex Ferguson
    Sir Alex Ferguson won 13 Premier League titles with Manchester United | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Manchester United are perhaps the biggest team in England, winning more trophies than any other side in the country.

    Their struggles in recent years have coincided with the emergence of Manchester City, who have bought themselves into football’s elite. The Citizens now have six top flight titles, though they are some way behind United’s 20.

    Lionel Messi
    Lionel Messi’s still at Barcelona | David Ramos/Getty Images

    From Johan Cruyff to Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola to Luis Enrique, the city of Barcelona is steeped in football heritage. They may be being run into the ground nowadays with the future looking uncertain, but there’s no denying the impact styles like tiki-taka have had on the football world.

    Espanyol are no mugs, either. They’ve won the Copa del Rey four times, the most recent coming in 2006.

    Jordan Pickford, Divock Origi
    Divock Origi scoring past Jordan Pickford in 2018 | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    The city of Liverpool has given us the Beatles, loads of boats and some delicious architecture, and it’s also home to two of England’s biggest clubs.

    Liverpool have shrugged off their ‘sleeping giants’ tag in recent years to win the Premier League and Champions League, while Everton were brilliant during the 1960s and 1980s.

    The city simply breathes football.

    William Arao, Gabriel Barbosa
    Flamengo won the Copa Libertadores in 2019 | Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

    The Fla-Flu, O Classico dos Milhoes, Clássico da Rivalidade and Classico Vovo are just a few of the derbies that take place in Rio.

    Flamengo completed a Serie A and Copa Libertadores double in 2019, while Vasco da Gama, Fluminense and Botafogo have all previously won top flight Brazilian titles.

    Patrick De Paula
    Corinthians and Palmeiras in a recent Paulista derby | Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

    The derbies in Sao Paulo have really great names.

    You’ve got the Paulista derby (Corinthians vs Palmeiras), the Majestic (Corinthians vs Sao Paulo) and the King Strike (Palmeiras vs Sao Paulo).

    As for domestic dominance, Palmeiras hold ten league titles to Corinthians’ seven and Sao Paulo’s six.

    Frank Fabra, Walter Montoya
    Things usually get heated in the Superclasico | Jam Media/Getty Images

    Buenos Aires can boast the River Plate-Boca Juniors derby, also known as the Superclasico. They are seen as Argentina’s top two teams, but the city’s footballing prestige doesn’t end there.

    Independiente and Racing, both multiple time league winners, also play in Avellaneda. Then there’s San Lorenzo de Almagro, Huracan, Velez Sarsfield and Argentinos Juniors, who all play in the Primera División.

    Diego Pablo Simeone, Zinedine Zidane
    Diego Simeone and Zinedine Zidane are two of the world’s best managers | TF-Images/Getty Images

    When you think of Madrid, you naturally think of Los Blancos. The Galacticos. The side that won four Champions Leagues in the 2010s and one that has the most championship titles in La Liga with 34.

    And then you’ve got Atletico Madrid, who shook everything up to win Spain’s top flight title in 2013/14. They also have a great record in the Copa del Rey, have won the Europa League three times and reached European Cup finals thrice.

    On the fringes of the city you also have Getafe, Leganes, Rayo Vallecano and more.

    Graeme Le Saux
    Arsenal and Chelsea players enjoying a good scrap | ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

    There’s just so much footballing prestige in London that it’s hard not to give them top spot here.

    The Arsenal side of the early 2000s were delightful, while Jose Mourinho helped kickstart Chelsea’s ascension to the top of the game with a few Premier League titles. Hell, even Tottenham were great in the early 1960s and reached the Champions League final in 2019.

    West Ham, Crystal Palace and Fulham are also teams from the capital currently competing in the top flight.

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