In August 2015, following a UEFA Super Cup-winning victory over Sevilla, FC Barcelona announced that it had become the most successful club in Europe when judged on the number of international trophies each team has won.
So how does Barça’s awards haul compare to that of other top football winners in Europe, and are they truly Europe’s most decorated team? With the winners of 2016’s international football competitions soon to be decided, here’s how their closest competitors measure up.
When FC Barcelona laid claim to the title of top football winners in Europe, they cited the fact that they’d won nineteen international club trophies: five Champions League titles, four UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups, five UEFA Super Cups, three Inter Cities Fairs Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups.
They added a further award to their display cabinet on December 20 2015, when they beat River Plate at Japan’s International Stadium Yokohama, taking their total FIFA Club World Cup wins to three. As a result, the club claimed it had drawn level with Al Ahly, the world’s most internationally successful football club.
The Egyptian club, however, took to Facebook to accuse Barça of deception, arguing that only 17 of the European club’s titles should count.
UEFA would certainly agree, as Barcelona admits. European football’s governing body doesn’t recognise their Inter Cities Fair Cup wins as official titles, due to the fact that the tournament wasn’t UEFA-run and only certain teams were invited to participate. However, FIFA considers the cup to be one of football’s major honours and Barça believes that validates its title-counting method.
Real Madrid has taken home an impressive eighteen international football trophies over the years, with ten UEFA Champions League, two UEFA Cup, two UEFA Super Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup and three Intercontinental Cup wins.
FC Barcelona’s calculations place their rivals two trophy wins and a place behind them in the rankings and, with Barça leading Real in terms of overall domestic wins as well, by 66 to 62, it means they can claim to be Spain’s top football team.
Removing the three Inter Cities Fair Cup titles from Barcelona’s tally means that Real Madrid currently have the edge in terms of international wins, however – and as Real’s domestic accolades have included 32 La Liga wins, while Barça have raised the trophy aloft on 23 occasions, the situation starts to look less clear-cut.
Seven-time UEFA Champions League winners, AC Milan, have also notched up two UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, five UEFA Super Cup, three Intercontinental Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup victories over the course of the club’s long history, giving them a total of 18 international competition titles too.
According to FC Barcelona, this puts them in joint-second place, with Real Madrid, some way above the three joint-fourth place winners, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Juventus, who have won eleven titles each. If Barça’s Inter Cities Fair Cup wins are excluded, however, AC Milan and Real Madrid are tied in first place and Barcelona slip down to third.
Whichever statistics you use, however, with the 2016 UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club Word Cup winners yet to be decided, whether Barça will be able to call themselves Europe’s most successful club by the end of the year still remains to be seen.
Do you agree with FC Barcelona’s statistics? Who are your top European football teams? Add a comment or let us know on Twitter or Facebook.