Albanian Superliga (“Kategoria Superiore” in Albanian) is the top professional football league in Albania.
The competition was founded in June 1930. Since then 43 different clubs have competed while only 8 clubs have won the title. The most successful club is FK Tirana with 24 titles followed by Dinamo Tirana (18) and Partizani Tirana (15), all of them coming from Albania’s capital Tirana.
There are ten teams playing in the top division. Seasons currently run from August to May, with teams playing each other team in the league four times, for a total of 36 games each. Nine of the TOP 15 most valuable players in the league (according to transfermarkt) are members of KF Skënderbeu Korçë. It does not come as a surprise that they are the most dominant team in recent league’s history, claiming its 5th consecutive title last year. Skënderbeu Korçë is looking to continue their reign this year as they are 4 points clear on the top of the table after 27 matches this season.
Number of teams: 10
Level on the pyramid: 1
Domestic cup: Albanian Cup (Kupa e Shqipërisë), Albanian Supercup (Superkupa e Shqipërisë)
International Cup: Champions League, Europa League
Current champions: KF Skënderbeu Korçë
Uefa Ranking: 39
Transfer window: 20th June – 1st September, 2nd January – 31st January
Average stadium attendances: 2,090 (2015/16)
Number of players: 300
Foreign players: 55 (18,3%)
Average age: 24.7 years
Clubs can have up to 4 foreign players on their team sheet. The most represented foreign countries are Brazil (32,7%), Montenegro (12,7%) and Croatia (10,9%). Although 18,3% of all players in Superliga are foreigners, there is also a strong base of home-grown players. Some notable footballers that still play on their home soil are Hamdi Salihi (50 national team caps), Elis Bakaj (27 caps) and Ervin Bulku (56 caps).
As of now European spots are reserved for the best-placed teams and the Albanian Cup winner. Champions qualify for the 2nd qualifying round of the Champions League, second and third place qualifies for the 1st qualifying round of the Europa League. The Albanian Cup winners qualify for the 1st qualifying round of the Europa League.
This season, for the first time in the history of Albanian football, a domestic club participated in the group stage of Europa League. KF Skënderbeu Korçë advanced through three playoff rounds in order to secure their spot in the group stage. On their road to this achievement, they beat Crusaders (Northern Ireland), Milsami Orhei (Moldova) and Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia). Unfortunately, KF Skënderbeu Korçë lost all of their group stage games against Beşiktaş (Turkey), Lokomotiv Moscow (Russia) and Sporting CP (Portugal) eventually finishing in the 4th place.
Like most other leagues Superliga also has a fierce derby. So-called “All-time Albanian Derby” is a match between two of the oldest Albanian clubs, KF Tirana, and KF Vllaznia Shkodër. Although the total score is still quite close (77-53 wins in favor of KF Tirana), KF Tirana has been much more dominant in the last 20 years. KF Tirana also plays a part in two other derbies that are played in the country’s capital. The other two teams involved are Partizani Tirana and the 2nd most successful Albanian club Dinamo Tirana.
The league’s recent strength also shows in their national team, although all of the first team starters play abroad at the moment. You may remember them in the light of an incident against Serbia when their supporters used a drone to interrupt the match. But now “The Eagles” are ready to shine on this year’s EURO in France under Giovanni De Biasi’s (former Torino FC manager) leadership. Albania qualified for EURO 2016 back in autumn 2015, claiming 2nd place in European qualifiers Group I, despite being in one of the hardest groups with Portugal, Denmark, Serbia, and Armenia. This is the first time that they qualified for a major tournament. They will play in Group A alongside France, Romania and Switzerland.
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