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World Football: The 11 Most Successful European Clubs in History

Manuel TraqueteSenior Analyst INovember 5, 2010

World Football: The 11 Most Successful European Clubs in History

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    The following is a ranking of the 11 most successful European clubs in history. The criterion is quite simple and couldn't be any more objective: number of (official) trophies won. 

    To make it a little more selective, clubs who haven't won the European Cup/UEFA Champions League in the past 25 years were excluded, since, as far as I'm concerned, a club who hasn't been successful in the most important European competition for that long doesn't deserve to be considered among the European elite.

    This led to the exclusion of such clubs as Celtic (91 trophies), Glasgow Rangers (113), Sporting Lisbon (41), Benfica (64), Steaua Bucharest (50), Levski Sofia (55) and CSKA Sofia (41), who would have otherwise made the list.

    Still, I believe it was a fair criterion, which made this ranking more selective and thus adequate.

11-PSV Eindhoven: 39 Trophies

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    Eredivise (Dutch League) - 21

    Dutch Cup - eight

    Johan Cruyff Shield (Dutch Super Cup) - eight

    European Cup/Champions League - one

    UEFA Cup/Europa League - one

     

    PSV are one of the most successful clubs in Holland (just behind Ajax) and they've also enjoyed some success in Europe, with a UEFA Cup and a Champions League under Guus Hiddink. In the past few years, they've not been as successful as in the past but they're still one of the top teams in Holland.

10-AC Milan: 45 Trophies

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    Serie A - 17

    Italian Cup - Five

    Italian Super Cup - Five

    European Cup/Champions League - Seven

    Cup Winners' Cup - Two

    UEFA Super Cup - Five

    Intercontinental Cup - Three

    Club World Cup - One

     

    The inclusion of Milan in such a low place might look like a surprise. However, despite Milan's tremendous success in international competitions (they're the second most successful club in Champions League history and have collected 18 international titles), they haven't been as successful in their own country. As far as league titles go, they're behind Juventus and Inter, and they've only got five Cups and five Super Cups. Still, the seven Champions Leagues make AC Milan one of the biggest clubs in Europe.

    The Paolo Maldini era (1984-2009) has been the most successful era in Milan's history, with seven leagues and five (!) Champions Leagues. With their legendary captain, Milan won 26 of their 45 trophies.

9/8-Red Star Belgrade: 50 Trophies

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    National Leagues (Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Serbia) - 25

    National Cups - 23

    European Cup/Champions League - One

    Intercontinental Cup - One

     

    Red Star might not have a top team currently, but they have a great history. They're by far the most successful club in Eastern Europe and their maiden Champions League title in 1991 make them a legimitate big name in European football. 

    Many might argue that Red Star is only here because they're in a much weaker league than Serie A or even Erevidise, but the numbers do not lie.  Of course that this does not mean that they are bigger than PSV or AC Milan, but they're definitely a very successful club.

8/9-Juventus: 50 Trophies

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    Seria A - 27

    Italian Cup - Nine

    Italian Super Cup - Four

    European Cup/Champions League - Two

    Cup Winners' Cup - One

    UEFA Cup/Europa League - Three

    UEFA Super Cup - Two

    Intercontinental Cup - Two

     

    Juventus might not be as successful as AC Milan in Europe, but they're considerably more successful in the domestic competitions, hence why they've collected more trohpies during their history. Despite only having two European Cup titles and 10 international trophies, Juventus is the only club in Europe to have won every international competition at least once.

    All this makes Juventus one of the biggest clubs in Europe. After the scandal in Italian football, the giant fell asleep but they seem to be steadily recovering and trophies should return to the Delle Alpi quite soon.

7-Bayern Munich: 55 Trophies

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    Bundesliga - 22

    German Cup - 15

    League Cup - Six

    German Super Cup - Four

    European Cup/Champions League - Four

    Cup Winners' Cup - One

    UEFA Cup/Europa League - One

    Intercontinental Cup - Two

     

    Bayern Munich are by far the biggest and most successful club in Germany.  Bayern are one of only three clubs to have won all three major European competitions and also the last club to have won the European Cup three times in a row (1974-1976). They've always had great squads with some of the best German players, and the current squad is no exception, which means that Bayern should have little trouble to add more trophies to their tally.

6/5- Liverpool: 58 Trophies

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    First Division/Premier League - 18

    FA Cup - Seven

    League Cup - Seven

    Charity/Comunity Shield - 15

    European Cup/Champions League - Five

    UEFA Cup/Europa League - Three

    UEFA Super Cup - Three

     

    Just 20 years ago, Liverpool were by far the most successful club in England. That is not the case anymore as they haven't won the league in 20 years and Manchester United has caught up to them. Despite the long draught and the recent crisis, Liverpool are still one of the household names in European football and a widely respected giant in European football.

    Their fans expect the club to get back to their winning ways soon.

5/6-Manchester United: 58 Trophies

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    First Division/Premier League - 18

    FA Cup - 11

    League Cup - Four

    Charity/Community Shield - 18

    European Cup/Champions League - Three

    Cup Winners' Cup - One

    UEFA Super Cup - One

    Intercontinental Cup - One

    Club World Cup - One

     

    Before Sir Alex Ferguson arrived, United only had seven league titles and was very far from Liverpool in overall titles. Twenty years later, Manchester United has the exact same league and overall trophies as Liverpool and they don't seem to be tired of winning yet. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, they've become arguably the biggest club in the world and they have the largest fan base of all clubs in the world.

    Thanks to Sir Alex Ferguson, United went from an average club to one of the biggest and most successful clubs in history.

     

4-FC Porto: 62 Trophies

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    Portuguese League - 24

    Portuguese Cup - 15

    Portuguese Super Cup - 17

    European Cup/Champions League - Two

    UEFA Cup/Europa League - One

    UEFA Super Cup - One

    Intercontinental Cup - Two

     

    Another case where a man changed everything. Before Pinto da Costa took over, Porto were only the third club in Portugal, but they're now the first in Portugal and one of the most successful clubs in Europe. Pinto da Costa is the most successful president in the history of football, as Porto have won 51 (!) of their 65 trophies during his 30-year tenure.

    In the past 25 years, Porto have won the Champions League twice and have become a regular presence in the latter stages of the main European competition. Last year, they had an off season and were relegated to the Europa League this season, where they're one of the favorites. This season, they already have a seven-point lead in the Portuguese league. More trophies will certainly come for Porto.

3-Ajax: 64 Trophies

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    Eredivise - 29

    Dutch Cup - 18

    Johan Cruyff Shield - Seven

    European Cup/Champions League - Four

    Cup Winners' Cup - One

    UEFA Cup/Europa League - One

    UEFA Super Cup - Two

    Intercontinental Cup - Two

     

    Ajax are clearly the most successful club in Holland and also one of the biggest and most successful clubs in history. They might not be a top team right now, but throughout history they had some of the best players ever to grace the football field, especially Johan Cruyff.

    They're also renowned for having one of the best football academies in the world.  Whether they can get back to their glorious winning ways, only time will tell.

2-FC Barcelona: 70 Trophies

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    La Liga - 20

    Copa Del Rey - 25

    League Cup - Two

    Spanish Super Cup - Nine

    European Cup/Champions League - Three

    Cup Winners' Cup - Four

    UEFA Cup/Europa League - Three

    UEFA Super Cup - Three

    Club World Cup - One

     

    Barcelona are one of the biggest and the secong winnigest club in European history, but a significant part of their success, including the three Champions League trophies, has come after Johan Cruyff took over. Also, the 25 Copa Del Rey help a lot. In 2009, Barcelona became the first club ever to win the sextuple.

    Many all-time greats played at Barcelona at one point in their careers.

    Despite the 70 trophies, 20 leagues and three Champions League are numbers that Barcelona are not very happy with and that Guardiola's Dream Team will try to keep improving. In both these competitions and in the overall trophy count, they're still behind their eternal rivals...

1-Real Madrid: 72 Trophies

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    La Liga - 31

    Copa del Rey - 17

    League Cup - One

    Spanish Super Cup - Eight

    European Cup/Champions League - Nine

    UEFA Cup/Europa League - Two

    UEFA Super Cup - One

    Intercontinental Cup - Three

     

    Real Madrid are one of the biggest clubs in the world and, with 72 trophies, they're also the most successful European club in history. Their nine Champions League are a legendary record; it's true that five of them were won in the first five editions, but there's no denying the brilliance of such achievement.

    In the past two decades, Barcelona have gained ground on Real Madrid and are now only two trophies behind their eternal rivals, but Los Blancos will try to increase the gap and win that elusive 10th Champions League.

    Just like Barcelona, many all-time greats played at Real Madrid at some point in their careers.

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