With several matches kicking off around the globe every weekend, it gets you thinking about how often do soccer teams play.
As when a season kicks off, it does seem like they are constantly playing for months.
But how many games are they playing, and how frequently do they do so?
Well, in this post, I will answer this for the big leagues around the world.
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How Often Do Soccer Teams Play?
For your typical soccer team, they will play one game every week during an active season.
This is with the exception of different breaks in place, which I will talk about later on.
However for most clubs, regardless of level, will be playing at least once a week.
Whether that be professional clubs, you see on TV or local amateur clubs.
For some teams, they can end up playing as often as two times a week.
This will consist of one at the weekend and maybe one in midweek.
If this happens, games will be spread out by at least 3 days.
Which is done to help against injuries and fatigue.
So if a team played on a Saturday, their next game wouldn’t be until Tuesday.
Along with that, the majority of clubs will play a maximum of twice a week.
How Many Games Do Teams In The Top Leagues Play?
Since every league has different rules and concepts, the number of games a team will play differs.
Now three factors affect how many games are played by a team.
This consists of:
- The league’s format
- The number of teams in the league/division
- The amount of competitions the club is involved in
Due to the above factors, some teams will therefore play more than others.
While others play less.
Factor 1 – The Leagues Format
When I started broadening my horizon of different soccer worldwide, I quickly found that some leagues are very different.
Being more used to premier league football in the UK, I have become accustomed to a double round-robin format.
This is where each team plays each other twice. Once at home and then another away.
This is a concept that is common in leagues in all continents apart from North America.
As in that region, it is normal to play a league competition followed by a knockout tournament.
So for leagues that have a knockout stage incorporated, some teams will play more if they reach the latter stages.
However, if we refer back to the English Premier League format example, each team will play the same amount of games each season.
Factor 2 – The Amount Of Games In A Season
The second factor that dictates how many games a season a team plays is the number of clubs.
Typically the more you have in your league, the more games you will have to play.
If each team plays home and away, then the games double.
For instance, if in the EPL teams only played each other once, it would be an abridged 19 game season.
However, since they do play twice, it is 38 games that run from August to May.
While it doesn’t happen in the big leagues, clubs can drop out before a season in the lower leagues.
So if your league consisted of 10 teams, and one dropped out, you would play 16 instead of 18.
That is if that team isn’t replaced with another one in time for the new season.
Back in my late teens, one of the clubs I was with encountered this issue.
At the start of the season, there was supposed to be 16 teams.
However, with teams pulling out, mainly for not having enough players registered, it meant the number of games was reduced.
It was tough at the time, as it meant we played less frequently due to having fewer teams in our league.
Factor 3 – The Amount Of Competitions The Club Is Involved In
What tends to be the case, overall leagues in the world, is that the better you are, the more games you play.
This isn’t certain teams are more special than others.
It is because winning titles and achieving certain positions in the league qualify teams for competitions.
To add to existing domestic tournaments that a lot of leagues have, you have continental competitions too.
This essentially is to find the ‘best of the best’ where champions of different countries take on champions of others.
One of the most prestigious club competitions is the Uefa Champions League.
However, being involved in more competitions like that one means more games for a club to play in across a season.
The more progress they make in them, the more ties that sets up for them too.
For instance, bottom league side of the 2021 EPL season, Sheffield United only played 40 games.
Whereas Chelsea, who finished third and won the Uefa Champions League, played an extra 11 games, taking them to 51.
Do Soccer Teams Get Time Off?
While most weekends during a season, a soccer club will be playing at least one fixture.
Now there are exceptions to this, and this is through various different breaks.
There are two commonly known breaks in football.
The first one is a winter break, as it suggests its one that takes place over winter.
Towards the end of the year, leagues all throughout the pyramid will take two weeks off.
This is so footballers can spend time with their loved ones over the festive period.
Most leagues have this in place, however not every league.
For those who play through the summer and have the winter off, it doesn’t apply.
The main league where there isn’t a break is the premier league.
As in England, it has become a tradition to have boxing day games.
So this will mean footballers will spend Christmas with their teammates in a hotel preparing for the boxing day fixture.
For many soccer fans, this is something that frustrates them, and that is international breaks.
International breaks happen throughout a season, typically happening once every couple of months.
During this time, soccer players will travel to join up with national teammates, in their country.
This is either for national team friendlies or qualifiers for upcoming international tournaments.
International breaks, just like it suggests, is a time period where clubs have a break with players going off to national sides.
So when this happens, domestic teams will have a break of two weeks from the league competition.
I hope this post gives you a good idea of how often soccer teams play.
If you have any questions on this topic, do let me know below 🙂