Your College Football Team Tells You Who To Root For In European Club Soccer
It seems like the World Cup just ended, but the 2018-19 European soccer campaign is already upon us. While you could pick a team based on who you enjoyed watching at the World Cup, if you’re still asking which club should I support, we’ve got another option for you.
The only sport in the world that can compare to the passion and revelry of club soccer is college football in the U.S. So what better way to help you pick a club to support in 2018 than by comparing European clubs to American college football teams.
Which Club Should I Support 2018 College Football Edition
Alabama Crimson Tide | Real Madrid
This one’s a bit obvious, but if you want a team that just wins year after year, you’re probably an Alabama football fan. The Crimson Tide have dominated college football since Nick Saban became coach in 2007, winning five national titles since 2009.
Likewise, Real Madrid has won four Champions League titles in the last five years. Sure, Los Blancos just lost Cristiano Ronaldo, but like Alabama, expect them to reload and sign talent that will make fans forget about CR7 pretty quickly.
Plus, both teams like to win the biggest prize even when they don’t win their own league. Only one of Real Madrid’s four recent UCL titles coincided with winning LaLiga, while two of Alabama’s national titles came despite not winning the SEC.
Clemson Tigers | Manchester City
If you want a team that’s a bit more nouveau riche than historical powerhouse, Clemson and Manchester City are perfect matches, having newfound, unprecedented success over the past few years.
Over the last decade, Clemson has gone from a good team to one of the nation’s best. Since 2011, the Tigers have won four ACC titles and its first national championship since 1981. The Tigers have been to three straight college football playoffs.
Manchester City, meanwhile, won its first title since 1968 in 2011, winning two more since. The club is experiencing unparalleled success thanks to wealthy ownership.
Both teams typically play entertaining football and Dabo Swinney and Pep Guardiola are two of the best coaches in their respective sports right now.
Ohio State Buckeyes | Barcelona
If you’re an Ohio State fan, you’re accustomed to winning and playing in front of some of the largest crowds in the world. Same goes for Barcelona fans.
Urban Meyer's Ohio State is every bit the powerhouse Barcelona was under Pep Guardiola, albeit with slightly less success.
The Buckeyes won a national title in 2014 and typically have a great offense to go with an underrated defense, just like Barcelona. It’s been a few years since an OSU player won the Heisman, but just like Barça with Lionel Messi, the Buckeyes have won more Heisman trophies than any other school. So Messi is basically Archie Griffin, or something.
Plus, if you like Ohio State, chances are you’re a bandwagon fan, and Barcelona has plenty of similar supporters to join.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish | Manchester United
Remember when these teams were good?
Notre Dame claims 11 national titles, but none since 1988. These days they’re more likely to miss a bowl game than compete for a national title.
Manchester United has fallen precipitously since the retirement of Alex Ferguson, finishing seventh, fourth, fifth and sixth in the years following, more likely to miss the Champions League than compete for a league title. While Jose Mourinho guided the Red Devils to a second-place finish last season, they were so far behind first place no one really cared.
Or if you’re a Notre Dame fan, you’re probably already somewhat of a cliché, so you could double down and root for Celtic.
USC Trojans | Juventus
USC wins conference titles for fun but hasn’t been able to win a national title in more than a decade. The Trojans are desperate to return to the top and stay relevant while playing in a league (Pac-12) that just doesn’t get much coverage anymore. Sound familiar?
Juventus has won seven straight Serie A titles, almost making Italian football irrelevant due to the relative ease with which the scudettos have been claimed. But the Champions League has eluded the Biaconeri for two decades and they’re desperate to win Europe’s top prize.
Plus, USC was stripped of its 2004 national title while Juventus had its scudettos from 2005 and 2006 revoked.
Will this be the year both of these teams return to the top? (Probably not.)
Auburn Tigers | Chelsea
Who the hell knows what’s going to happen year-to-year with these teams.
Auburn will go from missing a bowl game to winning it all in the span of a year and isn’t afraid to make a coaching change, just like Chelsea.
The Blues are the only team to ever win a league title, finish 10th and win another league title in consecutive seasons. They finished fifth last year, fired their coach and it’s anyone’s guess what they’ll do in 2018-19.
If you want to go big or go home like Auburn, root for Chelsea.
Michigan Wolverines | Atlético Madrid
Coached by a former player who brings a physical, defensive-minded brand of football to his team? Yeah, this checks out.
Michigan has yet to win even a Big Ten title under Jim Harbaugh, but the team is always in contention, just like Atlético.
Los Colchoneros, despite playing in the shadow of Real Madrid and Barcelona as Michigan has been in the shadow of Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State recently, actually have a LaLiga title more recently than Michigan has a conference title, winning in 2014.
Atlético also has three Europa League titles, which is more in line with Michigan’s level of success since winning a national title in 1997.
Texas Longhorns | Arsenal
It pains me deeply to compare my favorite soccer club with my least favorite college football team, but every year these teams promise big things and never deliver.
The Texas Longhorns are the richest team in college football but haven’t won a damn thing since 2005. Arsenal is one of the richest clubs in the world — at least in terms of ticket prices — but hasn’t done a damn thing since 2005.
The Longhorns won their last national title in 2005. Though they reached the national title game in 2009, they were never really in it (no, I don’t care that Colt was hurt; UT only scored 13 points on Nebraska in the game prior with a healthy QB). Nowadays everyone always wants to say Texas is back — but it never is.
Arsenal hasn’t been truly relevant since reaching the Champions League final in 2005, a year after finishing the Premier League campaign without a loss. Arsene Wenger may be gone, but anyone who really thinks the Gunners are back is as foolish as a Tea-Sip.
Texas A&M Aggies | Newcastle United
Texas A&M has the best fan base in college football for a team that hasn’t won a national championship in nearly a century. The Aggies fill Kyle Field, the largest stadium in the SEC, year after year, but haven’t even won a conference title since 1998.
Likewise, Newcastle United has one of the largest stadiums in England and a devoted fan base but not the on-field product to match. The last time Newcastle won a championship was also about a century ago, plus the Magpies changed leagues a couple times, bouncing between the Premier League and the Championship, just as the Texas A&M moved from the Big 12 to the SEC.
And we have a feeling Johnny Manziel and Mike Ashley would get along pretty well.
Miami Hurricanes | AS Monaco
Miami and Monaco produce talent like few other teams in the world; they always have players moving on to the next level regardless of how successful they are on the field.
Plus, both Miami and Monaco are fancy places to live — and by no means cheap.
LSU Tigers | Borussia Dortmund
Both the Bayou Bengals and Die Schwarzgelben have massive home-field advantages with fans decked out in yellow. LSU’s Tiger Stadium and Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion are two of the toughest places to come out with a win for any visiting team.
LSU has a national title and Dortmund a Champions League victory in the last couple decades, but neither has done as much as their biggest rivals in league play. But both keep developing some of the best talent in the world.
West Virginia Mountaineers | Liverpool
The Mountaineers can score with the best of them. Liverpool can score with the best of them. But it’s been a while since either has brought home a meaningful championship. (Before you @ us, yes Liverpool has a far superior history, but this is about 2018.)
West Virginia scores an absurd amount of points with an offense that’s a delight to watch no matter who’s running the show.
Liverpool meanwhile has been fearsome on offense for the last five seasons; from Luis Suarez to Mohamed Salah, the Reds have terrified defenses.
But, both teams have failed to impress in the trophy category. Liverpool hasn’t won anything in the last decade besides a League Cup title while WVU’s last conference title came in 2011.
Virginia Tech Hokies | AC Milan
Both of these teams were powerhouses thanks to stellar defenses in the '90s and 2000s. Now they’re both struggling to keep up in their own leagues.
The Hokies have fallen on tough times recently, having failed to win a conference title since 2010 after having won seven in a 16-year span. Likewise, AC Milan’s last scudetto came in 2011 and the Rossoneri have often failed to even qualify for the Champions League.
Oregon Ducks | PSG
So you like flashy teams with a lot of style but not a lot of substance? Well we’ve got just the team for you in Paris.
The Ducks have some of the coolest uniforms in the world and play some of the most scintillating football (at least before 2016). Paris Saint-Germain may not stack up on the uniform front, but no club has more flash than PSG.
While Neymar dances around defenders like Marcus Mariota, Kylian Mbappé will run by everyone like a wide receiver escaping a busted coverage. But, just like the Ducks, PSG won’t win the prize coveted most: a Champions League/national title.
Oklahoma Sooners | Bayern Munich
Both teams are absolute powerhouses — at least when playing locally.
Both Oklahoma and Bayern Munich dominate year after year in their conference and league, respectively. But both fail to turn that dominance into national titles and Champions League trophies.
Oklahoma hasn’t claimed a national title since 2000 despite winning the Big 12 10 times since then. Bayern won a UCL crown in 2001 but its only European glory since came over a fellow Bundesliga team, beating Borussia Dortmund in the final in 2013.
Oklahoma State Cowboys | Tottenham Hotspur
No one in the country donates more money to his alma mater’s football program than T. Boone Pickens. The native of Pampa, Texas, loves his school dearly, but he can’t buy a national title.
Likewise, Joe Lewis is one of the richest owners in all of soccer, but he and Daniel Levy haven’t been able to bring ultimate success to their corner of North London.
Both OSU and Tottenham play in newly renovated or newly rebuilt stadiums and generally play attractive, offensive football. They win most of their games — just not enough to win the trophies that matter, or overtake their local rivals.
Texas Tech Red Raiders | Morocco
OK, this isn’t a European club, nor is it even European, but I couldn’t resist the similarities.
Texas Tech has the sexiest coach in all of American football: Kliff Kingsbury. Morocco has the sexiest coach in all of football: Hervé Renard.
Colorado Buffaloes | Leeds United
Colorado last won a national title in 1990. Leeds United last won a title in 1992. Neither team has done much since.
Both teams traditionally have blue and gold in their colors. Their fan bases aren’t as big as some mega-clubs, but they’re no less devoted.
Plus, CU has the Leeds School of Business. Perfect!
The only difference is elevation. The highest peak in Leeds is 1,115 feet. The elevation of Boulder, Colorado, is 5,328 feet.
BYU Cougars | Porto
Brigham Young isn’t in a power conference, but it still won a national championship in 1984, the last time a team outside the power five conferences won it all (aside from independents).
Likewise, Porto is the last club to win a Champions League from outside of the big five European leagues. Jose Mourinho guided Porto to a 3-0 win over Monaco in 2004 in one of the least likely finals in Champions League history. How unlikely? Porto played a South African in the final. But they did have Deco, who could drop dimes like BYU alum Steve Young.
Boise State Broncos | Leicester City
One season punching above their weight made lifelong fans for both these teams.
Who can forget Boise State’s incredible Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma in 2007? That season (or even just the one win) made Boise State the favorite second team of many a football fan.
Just as it’s hard to hate on Boise, it’s hard to hate on Leicester City, which overcame ridiculous odds to win the Premier League in 2016.
If you like underdogs like Boise, you’ll love Leicester City. We'd love to see the Foxes turn their turf blue, too.
Minnesota Gophers | New England Revolution
What are these two teams doing here? I’m not sure either. Move along.
Houston Cougars | Ajax
Both clubs have a fair amount of football history, but these days they’re mostly known for pumping out stellar offenses.
Houston has consistently churned out some of the best QBs in the country, at least statistically. Likewise, Ajax plays in the Eredivisie, where even a Jozy Altidore can score 20-plus goals in a season.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors | PSV Eindhoven
See above. The Eredivisie is an offense-lover’s dream, and Hawaii puts up obscene offensive numbers every year. Both have great nicknames: Rainbow Warriors and Peasants.
The weather is slightly better in Honolulu than Eindhoven though.