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The biggest Spanish football teams compared: Barça vs Atletico vs Real

When it comes to the bragging rights of who is the biggest club there is never a universal agreement. Here we look to separate the big three from Spain as we look to nail down the biggest Spanish football club.

Before we crack on with our view, we want to lay out our plan as to what we’ll be covering to help up decide who is the biggest of the Spanish football teams. We’ll be considering the trophies they’ve won, the stadiums they play in and the fanbases they boast. Oh, and then there is just the small factor about who the biggest Spanish football club is – a definitive answer will be reached.

Who has the most honours?

When it comes to Spanish football teams there aren’t any that can come close to these three in terms of honours won. Which of the trio boast the most silverware though? To be clear, we’ll be focussing our attention on three competitions; the logic to this is because trophies like the Supercopa de Espana are directly impacted by other silverware wins whilst wins in the secondary European competitions can’t be used to help surpass a team competing in the harder to win Champions League.

League Titles

Spanish football teams' biggest domestic prize: the Trofeo de la Liga

In terms of pure numbers Atletico Madrid cannot come close to the La Liga titles that Barcelona and Real Madrid can show off; they can, however, claim to be the best of all Spanish football teams right now after scooping their 11th league title in the season just gone. In order to draw level with Barcelona in second place of the league title list they’ll need to defend their title for the next 15 years; that’s right Barca have won the league 26 times. Both of them are someway off Real Madrid’s haul of 34 though. Of course, these numbers will change over the course of time. What can’t ever be taken away is that Barca were the first of the three to win La Liga.

Copa Del Reys

Once again there is a really clear tiering as to which side has excelled most in this tournament. Atletico have hit double figures with 10 wins between 1960 and 2013. Real Madrid sit on nine more than their city rivals but their last win was back in 2014. Finally, you have Barcelona. They have won the Copa del Rey a huge 31 times including winning five since either of the other two clubs mentioned here had their hands on the trophy.

Champions League

As club football goes, the Champions League is the biggest prize by a distance. Atletico Madrid are yet to lift the trophy; they have fallen at the final hurdle on three occasions though. Barcelona have won the Champions League five times with their tiki-taka team that dominated Manchester United in 2009 and 2011 considered one of the best ever. Like with league titles though, neither Atletico or Barca (or any other club in Europe) can come close to the 13 titles Real Madrid have won; three of them were won in consecutive years too.

The Stadiums

In respect of direct capacity, there is no contest. Barcelona’s stadium, Camp Nou, houses 99,354 people, which is far superior to Real Madrid’s Bernabeu capacity of 81,044. That said, Real can boast having a bigger record attendance with the 129,690 people who watched the 1956 game against Milan eclipsing the 120,000 fans who watch Barca face, strangely another Italian side, Juventus 30 years later. As with the honours, Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano comes in down in third place with a capacity crowd of 68,457, which they’re yet to fully max out.

It’s not all about the number of fans that can cram into a ground that makes football stadiums a special place though. Atletico Madrid are considered to offer one of the more hostile atmospheres in La Liga but, actually, the loudest crowd noise in history comes from another of the Spanish football teams, Osasuna. Their fans hit the decibel reading of 115.17 after beating…Real Madrid. The second highest recorded noise in history, however, came in an El Clasico match. That fixture, of course, is Real Madrid vs Barcelona but it is the Barca fans who deserve the credit; it was on their patch and came as Luis Figo returned as a Los Blanco for the first time.

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Who has the biggest fanbase?

Whatever you do, don’t confuse stadium capacity with the number of fans a club has. They are two very different thing in what is most definitely a global game. Where shall we start with this? As we’re in a modern world, we’ll head to social media platform Instagram to assess who has the most followers; Real Madrid lead the way on 100 million with Barcelona narrowly behind on 98m. In third place is Atletico Madrid with a more than respectable following of 11.7m. Like with the other factors we’ve looked at, Atletico would rank superbly against other Spanish football teams but they’re up against it with Barca and Real.

The other metric we’re going to look at is the number of worldwide fan clubs each team have, which is underpinned by a study completed by well-respected stats site Statista. Real Madrid again lead the way with over 2,400 fan clubs with around 200 coming from outside of their homeland. Barcelona are next up with a total of 1,273; 151 are outside of Spain. Atletico did not make the study.

So, who is the biggest Spanish football club?

After assessing honours, stadiums and fan bases there are a couple of really clear themes developing. Atletico Madrid, whilst the current champions of Spain, are still well behind Real and Barca in the pecking order of big clubs. That’s probably not a huge shock, even if they still have some of the best La Liga players. What might be a surprise is that we think we have a clear winner. That’s Real Madrid. Compared to Barcelona they have exponentially more league titles, vastly more Champions League wins and, whilst we give the edge to Barca on the stadium front, it’s Real who boast the biggest fan following. At least Barcelona’s Copa Del Rey record will be in tact for a while. Oof.

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