La Liga

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La Liga
LaLiga Santander.svg
Organising body Liga de Fútbol Profesional (LFP)
Founded1929;90 years ago (1929)
Confederation UEFA
Number of teams 20
Level on pyramid 1
Relegation to Segunda División
Domestic cup(s) Copa del Rey
Supercopa de España
International cup(s) UEFA Champions League
UEFA Europa League
Current champions Barcelona (26th title)
Most championships Real Madrid (33 titles)
Most appearances Andoni Zubizarreta
Top goalscorer Lionel Messi
TV partners List of broadcasters
Soccerball current event.svg 2018–19 La Liga

The Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División, [lower-alpha 1] commonly known as La Liga [lower-alpha 2] (La Liga Santander for sponsorship reasons with Santander), [2] is the men's top professional football division of the Spanish football league system. [3] Administered by the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional (English: National Professional Football League), also known as the Liga de Fútbol Profesional (LFP), La Liga is contested by 20 teams, with the three lowest-placed teams at the end of each season relegated to the Segunda División and replaced by the top three teams in that division.

Banco Santander, S.A., doing business as Santander Group, is a Spanish multinational commercial bank and financial services company founded and based in Santander, Spain. In addition to hubs in Madrid and Barcelona, Santander maintains a presence in all global financial centres as the largest Spanish banking institution in the world. Although known for its European banking operations, it has extended operations across North and South America, and more recently in continental Asia.

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

The football league system in Spain consists of several leagues bound together hierarchically by promotion and relegation. The Spanish football federation allows reserve teams to compete in the main league system, as is the case in most of Europe; however reserve teams are not allowed to compete in the same tier as their senior team, and no reserve team has thus competed in the top flight, Primera División.


A total of 62 teams have competed in La Liga since its inception. Nine teams have been crowned champions, with Real Madrid winning the title a record 33 times and Barcelona 26 times. Barcelona won the inaugural La Liga in 1929 with Athletic Bilbao claiming several titles in the league's early years. Barcelona and Real Madrid dominated the championship in the 1950s, winning four La Liga titles each throughout the decade. Real Madrid dominated La Liga from the 1960s through the 1980s, when Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao, and Real Sociedad won the league twice in those years. From the 1990s onward, Barcelona has dominated La Liga, winning 16 titles. Although Real Madrid has been prominent, winning 8 titles, La Liga has also seen other champions, including Atlético Madrid, Valencia, and Deportivo de La Coruña.

FC Barcelona association football club in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Futbol Club Barcelona, commonly referred to as Barcelona and colloquially known as Barça, is a Spanish professional football club based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Athletic Bilbao professional football club from Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

Athletic Club, also commonly known as Athletic Bilbao, is a professional football club, based in Bilbao, in the Basque Country (Spain).

Real Sociedad Spanish association football club

Real Sociedad de Fútbol, S.A.D., more commonly referred to as Real Sociedad or La Real, is a Spanish football club based in the city of San Sebastián, Basque Country, founded on 7 September 1909. It plays its home matches at the Anoeta Stadium. Real Sociedad won the Liga title in 1980–81 and 1981–82, and last finished runners-up in 2002–03. The club has also won the Copa del Rey twice, in 1909 and 1987. It contests the Basque derby against rivals Athletic Bilbao. Real Sociedad were founder members of La Liga in 1929, and its longest spell in the top flight was for 40 seasons, from 1967 to 2007.

According to UEFA's league coefficient, La Liga has been the top league in Europe over the last five years and has led Europe for more years (21) than any other country. It has also produced the continent's top-rated club more times (21) than any other league, more than double that of second-placed Serie A. Its clubs have won the most UEFA Champions League (18), UEFA Europa League (11), UEFA Super Cup (15), and FIFA Club World Cup (7) titles, and its players have accumulated the highest number of Ballon d'Or awards (22), The Best FIFA Men's Player including FIFA World Player of the Year (19) and UEFA Men's Player of the Year including UEFA Club Footballer of the Year (11).

UEFA international sport governing body

The Union of European Football Associations is the administrative body for association football, futsal and beach soccer in Europe, although several member states are primarily or entirely located in Asia. It is one of six continental confederations of world football's governing body FIFA. UEFA consists of 55 national association members.

Serie A professional association football league in Italy

Serie A, also called Serie A TIM due to sponsorship by TIM, is a professional league competition for football clubs located at the top of the Italian football league system and the winner is awarded the Coppa Campioni d'Italia. It has been operating for over eighty years since the 1929–30 season. It had been organized by Lega Calcio until 2010, when the Lega Serie A was created for the 2010–11 season. Serie A is regarded as one of the best football leagues in the world and it is often depicted as the most tactical national league. Serie A was the world's second-strongest national league in 2014 according to IFFHS. Serie A is ranked third among European leagues according to UEFA's league coefficient, behind La Liga, Premier League, and ahead of Bundesliga and Ligue 1, which is based on the performance of Italian clubs in the Champions League and the Europa League during the last five years. Serie A led the UEFA ranking from 1986 to 1988 and from 1990 to 1999.

UEFA Champions League European association football tournament for clubs

The UEFA Champions League is an annual club football competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and contested by top-division European clubs. It is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European football, played by the national league champions of the strongest UEFA national associations.

La Liga is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in the world, with an average attendance of 26,983 for league matches in the 2017–18 season. This is the sixth-highest of any domestic professional sports league in the world and the third-highest of any professional association football league in the world, behind the Bundesliga and the Premier League. [4] [5]

Bundesliga Association football league

The Bundesliga is a professional association football league in Germany and the football league with the highest average stadium attendance worldwide. At the top of the German football league system, the Bundesliga is Germany's primary football competition. The Bundesliga comprises 18 teams and operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the 2. Bundesliga. Seasons run from August to May. Most games are played on Saturdays and Sundays, with a few games played on weekdays. All of the Bundesliga clubs qualify for the DFB-Pokal. The winner of the Bundesliga qualifies for the DFL-Supercup.

Premier League Association football league in England

The Premier League is the top level of the English football league system. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the English Football League (EFL).

Competition format

The competition format follows the usual double round-robin format. During the course of a season, which lasts from August to May, each club plays every other club twice, once at home and once away, for 38 matchdays. Teams receive three points for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, with the highest-ranked club at the end of the season crowned champion.

A round-robin tournament is a competition in which each contestant meets all other contestants in turn. A round-robin contrasts with an elimination tournament, in which participants are eliminated after a certain number of losses.

Promotion and relegation

A system of promotion and relegation exists between the Primera División and the Segunda División . The three lowest placed teams in La Liga are relegated to the Segunda División, and the top two teams from the Segunda División promoted to La Liga, with an additional club promoted after a series of play-offs involving the third, fourth, fifth and sixth placed clubs. Below is a complete record of how many teams played in each season throughout the league's history;

Promotion and relegation Process where teams are transferred between divisions

In sports leagues, promotion and relegation is a process where teams are transferred between multiple divisions based on their performance for the completed season. The best-ranked team(s) in the lower division are promoted to the higher division for the next season, and the worst-ranked team(s) in the higher division are relegated to the lower division for the next season. In some leagues, playoffs or qualifying rounds are also used to determine rankings. This process can continue through several levels of divisions, with teams being exchanged between levels 1 and 2, levels 2 and 3, levels 3 and 4, and so on. During the season, teams that are high enough in the league table that they would qualify for promotion are sometimes said to be in the promotion zone, and those at the bottom are in the relegation zone.

The Segunda División, officially known as La Liga 2 and stylized as La Liga 1|2|3 for sponsorship reasons, is the men's second professional association football division of the Spanish football league system. Administrated by the Liga de Fútbol Profesional (LFP), it is contested by 22 teams, with the top two teams plus the winner of a play-off promoted to La Liga and replaced by the three lowest-placed teams in that division.

Number of clubs in La Liga throughout the years
Period (in years)No. of clubs
1929–193410 clubs
1934–194112 clubs
1941–195014 clubs
1950–197116 clubs
1971–198718 clubs
1987–199520 clubs
1995–199722 clubs
1997–present20 clubs

Ranking of clubs on equal points

If points are equal between two or more clubs, the rules are: [6]

Qualification for European competitions

Current Criteria

The top 4 teams in La Liga qualify for the subsequent season's UEFA Champions League Group Stage. The winners of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League also qualify for the subsequent season's UEFA Champions League Group Stage. If this means 6 La Liga teams qualify, then the 4th place team in La Liga instead plays in the UEFA Europa League, as any single nation is limited to a maximum of 5 teams.

The 5th place team in La Liga qualifies for the subsequent season's UEFA Europa League Group Stage. The winner of the Copa del Rey also qualifies for the subsequent season's UEFA Europa League Group Stage, but if the winner also finished in the top 5 places in La Liga, then this place reverts to the team that finished 6th in La Liga. Furthermore, the 6th place (or 7th if 6th already qualifies) team qualifies for the subsequent season's UEFA Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round. [8]

The number of places allocated to Spanish clubs in UEFA competitions is dependent upon the position a country holds in the UEFA country coefficients, which are calculated based upon the performance of teams in UEFA competitions in the previous 5 years. Currently the ranking of Spain (and de facto La Liga) is 1st.

Extracted from the 2018 ranking of nations by their UEFA coefficient [9]
Places in UEFA Champions League Places in Europa League
11= Flag of Spain.svg Spain 23,00020,21423,92820,14219,714106,9984-----2--1--
23+1 Flag of England.svg England 16,78513,57114,25014,92820,07179,6054-----2--1--
34+1 Flag of Italy.svg Italy 14,16619,00011,50014,25017,33376,2494-----2--1--
42-2 Flag of Germany.svg Germany 14,71415,85716,42814,5719,85771,4274-----2--1--
55= Flag of France.svg France 8,50010,91611,08314,41611,50056,4152-1---2--1--
66= Flag of Russia.svg Russia 10,4169,66611,5009,20012,60053,3822-1---1-11--
77= Flag of Portugal.svg Portugal 9,9169,08310,5008,0839,66647,2481-1---1-11--
88= Flag of Ukraine.svg Ukraine 7,83310,0009,8005,5008,00041,1331-1---1-11--
99= Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium 6,4009,6007,40012,5002,60038,5001-1---1-11--
1010= Flag of Turkey.svg Turkey 6,7006,0006,6009,7006,80035,8001--1--1-11--
In addition, the winners of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League automatically qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League in the subsequent season. A maximum of 5 teams are allowed from any one association, so if 6 teams qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the 4th place team in the domestic league competes in the UEFA Europa League.



In April 1927, José María Acha, a director at Arenas Club de Getxo, first proposed the idea of a national league in Spain. After much debate about the size of the league and who would take part, the Real Federación Española de Fútbol eventually agreed on the ten teams who would form the first Primera División in 1929. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Arenas Club de Getxo and Real Unión were all selected as previous winners of the Copa del Rey. Atlético Madrid, Espanyol and Europa qualified as Copa del Rey runners-up and Racing de Santander qualified through a knockout competition. Only three of the founding clubs, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, have never been relegated from the Primera División.

The 1930s: Athletic Bilbao

Although Barcelona won the very first Liga in 1929 and Real Madrid won their first titles in 1932 and 1933, it was Athletic Bilbao that set the early pace winning Primera División in 1930, 1931, 1934 and 1936. They were also runners-up in 1932 and 1933. In 1935, Real Betis, then known as Betis Balompié, won their only title to date. Primera División was suspended during the Spanish Civil War.

In 1937, the teams in the Republican area of Spain, with the notable exception of the two Madrid clubs, competed in the Mediterranean League and Barcelona emerged as champions. Seventy years later, on 28 September 2007, Barcelona requested the Royal Spanish Football Federation (Spanish acronym RFEF) to recognise that title as a Liga title. This action was taken after RFEF was asked to recognise Levante FC's Copa de la España Libre win as equivalent to Copa del Rey trophy. Nevertheless, the governing body of Spanish football has not made an outright decision yet.

The 1940s: Atlético de Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona

When the Primera División resumed after the Spanish Civil War, it was Atlético Aviación (nowadays Atlético Madrid), Valencia, and FC Barcelona that emerged as the strongest clubs. Atlético were only awarded a place during the 1939–40 season as a replacement for Real Oviedo, whose ground had been damaged during the war. The club subsequently won their first Liga title and retained it in 1941. While other clubs lost players to exile, execution, and as casualties of the war, the Atlético team was reinforced by a merger. The young, pre-war squad of Valencia had also remained intact and in the post-war years matured into champions, gaining three Liga titles in 1942, 1944, and 1947. They were also runners-up in 1948 and 1949. Sevilla also enjoyed a brief golden era, finishing as runners-up in 1940 and 1942 before winning their only title to date in 1946.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Spain, FC Barcelona began to emerge as a force under the legendary Josep Samitier. A Spanish footballer for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, Samitier cemented his legacy with Barcelona. During his playing career with them, he scored 333 goals, won the inaugural La Liga title and five Copa Del Rey. In 1944, Samitier returned to Barcelona as a coach and guided them in winning their second La Liga title in 1945. Under Samitier and legendary players Cesar Rodriguez, Josep Escola, Estanislau Basora and Mariano Gonzalvo, Barcelona dominated La Liga in the late 1940s, [10] winning back to back La Liga titles in 1948 and 1949. The 1940s proved to be a successful season for Barcelona, winning three La Liga titles and one Copa Del Rey, but the 1950s proved to be a decade of dominance, not just from Barcelona, but from Real Madrid.

1950s: Barcelona and Real Madrid Dominate La Liga

Naturalised Argentine Alfredo Di Stefano was part of a dominant Real Madrid side in the 1950s Di stefano real madrid cf (cropped).png
Naturalised Argentine Alfredo Di Stéfano was part of a dominant Real Madrid side in the 1950s
During the 1950s, Laszlo Kubala was a leading member of Barcelona scoring 194 goals in 256 appearances. Kubala.jpg
During the 1950s, László Kubala was a leading member of Barcelona scoring 194 goals in 256 appearances.

Although Atlético Madrid, previously known as Atlético Aviación, were champions in 1950 and 1951 under catenaccio mastermind Helenio Herrera, the 1950s continued the success FC Barcelona had during the late 1940s after they had won back to back La Liga titles. During this decade, Barcelona's first golden era emerged. Under coach Ferdinand Daučík, FC Barcelona won back to back doubles, winning La Liga and Copa Del Rey in 1952 and 1953. In 1952, FC Barcelona made history yet again by winning five distinctive trophies in one year. This team, composed of László Kubala, Mariano Gonzalvo, Cesar Rodriguez and Joan Segarra won La Liga, Copa Del Rey, Copa Eva Duarte (predecessor of Spanish Super Cup), The Latin Cup and The Copa Martini Rossi. Their success in winning five different trophies in one year earned them the name 'L’equip de les cinc Copes' [11] or The Team of The Five Cups. In the latter parts of the 1950s, coached by Helenio Herrera and featuring Luis Suárez, Barcelona won yet again their third set of back to back La Ligas, winning them in 1959 and 1960. In 1959, FC Barcelona also won another double of La Liga / Copa Del Rey, conquering three doubles in the 1950s.

The 1950s also saw the beginning of the Real Madrid dominance. During the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, there were strict limits imposed on foreign players. In most cases, clubs could only have three foreign players in their squads, meaning that at least eight local players had to play in every game. During the 1950s, however, these rules were circumvented by Real Madrid who naturalized Alfredo Di Stéfano and Ferenc Puskás. Di Stéfano, Puskás, Raymond Kopa and Francisco Gento formed the nucleus of the Real Madrid team that dominated the second half of the 1950s. Madrid won the first division in 1954, 21 years later since 1933, and retained its title in 1955. They were winners again in 1957 and 1958, with only Athletic Bilbao interrupting their sequence. All in all, Barcelona and Real Madrid won 4 La Liga titles each, with Atletico De Madrid and Atletico De Bilbao winning one each during this decade.

The 1960s–1980s: The Real Madrid years

Between 1961 and 1980, Real Madrid dominated the Primera División, being crowned champions 14 times, including five in a row from 1961 to 1965 and two three-in-a-row sequences (1967–1969 and 1978–1980). However, their only European Cup triumph during this period came in 1966, a sharp contrast to their five successive victories in the competition from 1956.

During this era, only Atlético Madrid offered Real Madrid any serious challenge, adding four more titles in 1966, 1970, 1973, and 1977. Of the other clubs, only Valencia in 1971 and the Johan Cruyff-inspired Barcelona of 1974 broke the dominance of Real Madrid.

The Madrid winning sequence was interrupted more significantly in 1981 when Real Sociedad won their first-ever title. They retained it in 1982, and there were followed by fellow Basque team Athletic Bilbao, who won back-to-back titles in 1983 and 1984. Terry Venables led Barcelona to a solitary title in 1985 before Real Madrid put together another five in a row sequence (1986–1990) with a team guided by Leo Beenhakker and including Hugo Sánchez and the La Quinta del Buitre Emilio Butragueño, Manolo Sanchís, Martín Vázquez, Míchel and Miguel Pardeza.[ citation needed ]

The 1990s: Barcelona's Dream Team

Johan Cruyff returned to Barcelona as manager in 1988, and assembled the legendary Dream Team. [12] When Cruyff took hold of this Barcelona side they had won only two La Liga titles in the past 11 years. Cruyff, who knew the history of FC Barcelona as a player, did not want history to repeat itself. He decided to build a team composed of international stars and La Masia graduates in order to restore Barcelona to their former glorious days. This team was formed by international stars such as Brazilian legend Romario, Denmark's magician Michael Laudrup, Bulgarian forward Hristo Stoichkov, Dutchman Ronald Koeman, and Spaniards Andoni Zubizarreta and Jose Mari Bakero. Cruyff's Dream Team also consisted of La Masia graduates Pep Guardiola, Albert Ferrer, and Guillermo Amor.

Johan Cruyff changed the way modern football was played and incorporated the principles of ‘Total Football’ into this team. The success of possession-based football was revolutionary and Cruyff's team won their first European Cup in 1992 and four consecutive La Liga titles between 1991 and 1994. In total, Cruyff won 11 trophies in eight years, making him the most successful manager in Barcelona's history until the record was broken by his protégé Pep Guardiola two decades later.

Barcelona's run ended with Real Madrid winning La Liga in 1995. Atlético Madrid won their ninth Primera División title in 1996 before Real Madrid added another Liga trophy to their cabinet in 1997. After the success of Cruyff, another Dutchman – Ajax manager Louis van Gaal – arrived at the Camp Nou, and with the talents of Luís Figo, Luis Enrique, and Rivaldo, Barcelona won the La Liga title in 1998 and 1999, included their fourth double of Liga and the Copa Del Rey in 1998. All in all, Barcelona won six La Liga titles in the 1990's and continued their success through the 2000s.

New winners and Barcelona dominance (2000s–present)

As Primera División entered a new century, the two giants of Spain, Real Madrid and Barcelona, found themselves facing new challengers. Between 1999/00 and 2004, Deportivo La Coruña finished in the top three on ten occasions, a better record than either Real Madrid or Barcelona, and in 2000, under Javier Irureta, Deportivo became the ninth team to be crowned champions. Valencia were also a fierce team in the 2000s and under the management of Héctor Cúper, Valencia finished as Champions League runners-up in 2000 and 2001. His successor, Rafael Benítez, built on this and led the club to a Liga title in 2002, as well as winning the UEFA Cup and La Liga in 2004.

Real Madrid won two Liga titles in 2001 and 2003 and also the UEFA Champions League in 2000 and 2002. With world-class players like Raúl, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Gonzalo Higuaín, Real Madrid won back-to-back La Liga titles in 2006–07 and 2007–08. All in all, Madrid won 4 La Liga's and two Champions Leagues from 2000-2010.

The 2000s also continued the success of FC Barcelona. In the 2004–05 season, Barcelona won their first title of the new century under the brilliance of Ronaldinho. Barcelona retained the title and won it again in the 2005-2006 season, as well as winning the UEFA Champions League against Arsenal, achieving their second European Double. Under the era of Pep Guardiola, powered by La Masia's talent, such as Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, Barcelona added three straight Liga titles in 2009, 2010 and 2011. FC Barcelona also became the first team in Spain to achieve the Treble in the 2008/09 season, winning all three major competitions in a single season consisting of La Liga, Copa Del Rey and the Champions League. From 2000-2010, FC Barcelona won 5 La Liga titles and 2 Champions League.

Match between Deportivo de La Coruna and FC Barcelona in 2016-17 season. Deportivobarcelona.jpg
Match between Deportivo de La Coruña and FC Barcelona in 2016–17 season.

In the 2011–12 season, Real Madrid won its 32nd title under the management of José Mourinho with records at the time of 100 points, 118 goals scored, and overall (32) and away (16) wins in a La Liga season. A year later in the 2012-2013 season, Barcelona replicated the same feat under coach Tito Vilanova, matching the 100-point record. Atlético Madrid won the 2013–14 title, their first in 18 years, and the first title in ten years that Real Madrid or Barcelona had not won.

In the 2014–15 season, under the deadly trio of Messi, Neymar, and Suarez nicknamed 'MSN', Barcelona made history by becoming the first team to achieve a second treble. MSN hit a record-breaking 122 goals, [13] eclipsing the 118 goals scored by Madrid in the 2011–12 season. Barcelona continued their dominance in the 2015–16 season, winning the Liga/Copa Del Rey double, resulting in 4 titles in 6 years.

Real Madrid brought back the La Liga title under the management of Zinedine Zidane in 2016–17, but Barcelona won the title in the 2017–18 season, as well as winning their eighth double, [14] for a total of 7 La Liga titles in 10 years. Barcelona retained the title yet again and won their 26th La Liga title in the 2018-2019 season, for a total of 8 La liga titles in 11 years.


Spain Madrid location map.svg
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Location of Madrid teams in 2018–19 La Liga

20 teams contest the league in its current season, including the top 17 sides from the 2017–18 season and three promoted from the 2017–18 Segunda División. The promoted clubs include Rayo Vallecano and Huesca, promoted directly from the second division, and the winner of the promotion play-off, Valladolid.

Stadiums and locations

Alavés Vitoria-Gasteiz Mendizorrotza 19,840 [15]
Athletic Bilbao Bilbao San Mamés 53,289 [16]
Atlético Madrid Madrid Wanda Metropolitano 67,703 [17]
Barcelona Barcelona Camp Nou 99,354 [18]
Celta Vigo Vigo Balaídos 29,000 [19]
Eibar Eibar Ipurua 7,083 [20]
Espanyol Barcelona RCDE Stadium 40,500 [21]
Getafe Getafe Coliseum Alfonso Pérez 17,393 [22]
Girona Girona Montilivi 13,500 [23]
Huesca Huesca El Alcoraz 7,638 [24]
Leganés Leganés Butarque 11,454 [25]
Levante Valencia Ciutat de València 26,354 [26]
Rayo Vallecano Madrid Vallecas 14,708
Real Betis Seville Benito Villamarín 60,720 [27]
Real Madrid Madrid Santiago Bernabéu 81,044 [28]
Real Sociedad San Sebastián Anoeta 25,000 [29]
Sevilla Seville Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán 42,500 [30]
Valencia Valencia Mestalla 55,000 [31]
Valladolid Valladolid José Zorrilla 26,512 [32]
Villarreal Villarreal Estadio de la Cerámica 23,500 [33]

La Liga clubs in Europe

Real Madrid against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League in 2013 Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Real Madrid - Borussia Dortmund, 2013 - 10.jpg
Real Madrid against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League in 2013

The Primera División is currently first in the UEFA rankings of European leagues based on their performances in European competitions over a five-year period, ahead of England's Premier League, Italy's Serie A, and Germany's Bundesliga in fourth. [34]

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia are in the top ten most successful clubs in European football in terms of total European trophies.[ citation needed ] These three clubs, along with Sevilla and Atlético Madrid, are five of the most successful teams in European competition history; these five are the only Spanish clubs to have won five or more international trophies. Deportivo La Coruña are the joint fifth-most participating Spanish team in the Champions League with Sevilla — after Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Atlético Madrid — with five Champions League appearances in a row, including a semifinal appearance in 2003–04. [35]

In 2005–06, Barcelona won the Champions League and Sevilla won the UEFA Cup, making La Liga the first league to do the European "double" since 1997. This feat was repeated in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018. On 25 August 2015, La Liga became the first league to qualify five teams for the UEFA Champions League group stage (Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia).


Performance by club

Performance by individual clubs in Primera División
TeamsWinnersRunners-upWinning seasons
Real Madrid
1931–32, 1932–33, 1953–54, 1954–55, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1960–61, 1961–62, 1962–63, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1971–72, 1974–75, 1975–76, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1985–86, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1989–90, 1994–95, 1996–97, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2011–12, 2016–17
1929–29, 1944–45, 1947–48, 1948–49, 1951–52, 1952–53, 1958–59, 1959–60, 1973–74, 1984–85, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1997–98, 1998–99, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2017–18, 2018–19
Atlético Madrid
1939–40, 1940–41, 1949–50, 1950–51, 1965–66, 1969–70, 1972–73, 1976–77, 1995–96, 2013–14
Athletic Bilbao
1929–30, 1930–31, 1933–34, 1935–36, 1942–43, 1955–56, 1982–83, 1983–84
1941–42, 1943–44, 1946–47, 1970–71, 2001–02, 2003–04
Real Sociedad
1980–81, 1981–82
Deportivo La Coruña
Real Betis

Performance comparison this century

Performance comparison of top teams since 2000.

Teams 99–00 00–01 01–02 02–03 03–04 04–05 05–06 06–07 07–08 08–09 09–10 10–11 11–12 12–13 13–14 14–15 15–16 16–17 17–18 18–19
BAR 24462112311121211211
RMA 51314221122212322133
VAL 35151734106333584121244
ATM 19--12711107449753133322
DEP 122338813971018-19-16151618-
SEV 20-8106653534599557476
ATH 11129759121711138610124757168
RSO 131313215141619---1512471296129
ESP 14914171651511121011814131410138117
BET 18-689414161318--13720-1015610
VIL -715158375257418-6645514
     League champions
     Champions League
     Europa League

All-time La Liga table

The all-time La Liga table [36] is an overall record of all match results, points, and goals of every team that has played in La Liga since its inception in 1929. The table is accurate as of the end of the 2017–18 season. [37] Teams in bold are part of the 2018–19 La Liga.

All-time La Liga table
Last App
1 Real Madrid 874461280016695625696041318433239834801929 1929 1
2 Barcelona 87435528001609569622599931432625121246841929 1929 1
3 Atlético Madrid 8135212652126460878045923331101016976571929 2002–03 1
4 Valencia 8334592702120962387044633507661012107511931–32 1987–88 1
5 Athletic Bilbao 873411280012196469354672374987105810491929 1929 1
6 Sevilla 74287724461007538901372934311445126321934–35 2001–02 1
7 Espanyol 83284126649606211083364539264525161929 1994–95 3
8 Real Sociedad 712622234087858487832943289232543191929 2010–11 1
9 Zaragoza 58210919866985227662683284714544181939–40 2012–13 2
10 Real Betis 52194517666244466962222255212345151932–33 2015–16 1
11 Deportivo La Coruña 46184315685694035962090226915411121941–42 2017–18 1
12 Celta Vigo 521838173659939973823372685245111939–40 2012–13 4
13 Valladolid 42147114664633846191767218011131948–49 2018–19 4
14 Racing Santander 441416142845333663918432368112151929 2011–12 2
15 Sporting Gijón 4313891458471358629175321521122171944–45 2016–17 2
16 Osasuna 37135113184263275651497183322261935–36 2016–17 4
17 Málaga 3713341293395335563144518241121949–50 2017–18 4
18 Oviedo 3811741192408292492164219513224111933–34 2000–01 3
19 Mallorca 2711489883332563991182137122151960–61 2012–13 3
20 Las Palmas 3410421134372249513137118201111151951–52 2017–18 2
21 Villarreal 18103168428417922194983911242101998–99 2013–14 2
22 Granada 236677422181753498191158221941–42 2016–17 6
23 Rayo Vallecano 1766265218914830576010881977–78 2018–19 8
24 Getafe 13608494162122210562662112004–05 2017–18 6
25 Elche 2160667820318029575010221121959–60 2014–15 5
26 Hércules 2053862818414929571610501451935–36 2010–11 5
27 Tenerife 13510494155128211619744221961–62 2009–10 5
28 Alavés 1346841814083195498673111930–31 2016–17 6
29 Levante 12462440124108208474690111963–64 2017–18 6
30 Murcia 184455861451432986079921940–41 2007–08 11
31 Salamanca 123754231231021984225811974–75 1998–99 7
32 Sabadell 14353426129952024927201121943–44 1987–88 4
33 Cádiz 123434481041272173936621977–78 2005–06 12
34 Logroñés 929334696921582914891987–88 1996–97 7
35 Castellón 11285334103791524195881231941–42 1990–91 4
36 Albacete 727727076761183204101991–92 2004–05 7
37 Almería 624222862561102443662007–08 2014–15 8
38 Córdoba 92302828263137285430111962–63 2014–15 5
39 Compostela 41901605245631992411994–95 1997–98 10
40 Recreativo 51881865046902022961978–79 2008–09 8
41 Eibar 41831524936671832172014–15 2014–15 9 [38]
42 Burgos CF 61682045950952163101971–72 1979–80 12
43 Pontevedra 61501805344831652211963–64 1969–70 7
44 Numancia 41481523737781552531999–00 2008–09 17
45 Arenas 71071304321662273081341929 1934–35 3
46 Real Burgos 3961142644441011391990–91 1992–93 9
47 Gimnàstic 4911163416661812951947–48 2006–07 7
48 Extremadura 28380202337621171996–97 1998–99 17
49 Mérida 28180192437701151995–96 1997–98 19
50 Leganés 27876201838701062016–17 2016–17 17
51 Alcoyano 4761083016621452521945–46 1950–51 10
52 Jaén 371902913481211831953–54 1957–58 14
53 Real Unión 45672211437153184111929 1931–32 6
54 AD Almería 25268171833711161979–80 1980–81 10
55 Girona 151381491550592017–18 2017–18 9
56 Europa 3425418630971311929 1930–31 8
57 Lleida 24068131441701821950–51 1993–94 16
58 Xerez 134388102038662009–10 2009–10 20
59 Condal 12230781537571956–57 1956–57 16
60 Atlético Tetuán 11930751851851951–52 1951–52 16
61 Cultural Leonesa 11430542134651955–56 1955–56 15
62 Huesca 2018–19 2018–19
    • Note: Despite finishing the season in the 13th position in the 2014-15 La Liga, on 5 June, Elche was relegated to Segunda División due to its financial struggles, Newcomers Eibar, who finished the season in the 18th position, took Elche's place in 2015–16 La Liga.
League or status for 2018–19 season
2018–19 La Liga
2018–19 Segunda División
2018–19 Segunda División B
2018–19 Tercera División
2018–19 Divisiones Regionales
To be determined
No longer exists

All-time La Liga table (3 pts. since 1995)

All-time La Liga table (wins, 3 points)
1FC Barcelona88259917513912011972
2Real Madrid CF88256116615510411849
3Valencia CF8824182072573641461
4Atlético de Madrid8063851922293811347
5Athletic Club882327242313-291223
6Sevilla FC7683251772661301152
7RCD Espanyol882300237345-1121137
8Deportivo de La Coruña806302227277121133
9Real Sociedad768282202284-11048
10Villarreal CF6842841792211101031
11Real Betis730251206273-102959
12Celta de Vigo654241168245-8891
13RCD Mallorca608226151231-39829
14Málaga CF646208165273-121789
15Real Zaragoza616191181244-114754
16Racing de Santander616175184257-181709
17CA Osasuna570172153245-183669
18Real Valladolid CF540161159220-139642
19Getafe CF494162122210-104608
20Rayo Vallecano42613683207-211491
21Levante UD38010696178-189414
22Deportivo Alavés30410565134-88380
23Real Sporting3508979182-209346
24CD Tenerife236726599-68281
25Real Oviedo2366669101-98267
26UD Almería2286256110-123242
27Granada CF2285651121-172219
28UD Las Palmas190494497-109191
29SD Eibar152493667-34183
31SD Compostela122413348-30156
32CD Numancia152373778-98148
34UD Salamanca118272467-66105
35CF Extremadura80202337-5583
36CP Mérida80192437-4581
37Elche CF76202135-4781
38CD Leganés76201838-3678
39Hércules CF80211346-6176
40Real Murcia CF76122044-5756
41Girona FC3814915-951
42Cádiz CF3881218-1636
43Xerez CD3881020-2834
44CD Logroñés429627-5233
46Córdoba CF3831124-4620


Eligibility of non-EU players

In La Liga, players can claim citizenship from the nation their ancestors came from. If a player does not have European ancestry, he can claim Spanish citizenship after playing in Spain for five years. Sometimes, this can lead to a triple-citizenship situation; for example, Leo Franco, who was born in Argentina, is of Italian heritage yet can claim a Spanish passport, having played in La Liga for over five years.

In addition, players from the ACP countries—countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific that are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement—are not counted against non-EU quotas due to the Kolpak ruling.

Individual awards

Until the 2008–09 season, no official individual awards existed in La Liga. In 2008–09 season, the LFP governing body created the LFP Awards (now called La Liga Awards), awarded each season to individual players and coaches. [39] Additional awards relating to La Liga are distributed, some not sanctioned by the LFP or RFEF and therefore not regarded as official. The most notable of these are four awarded by Spain's largest sports paper, Marca , namely the Pichichi Trophy, awarded to the top scorer of the season; the Ricardo Zamora Trophy, for the goalkeeper with the fewest goals allowed per game (minimum 28 games); the Alfredo di Stéfano Trophy, for the player judged to be the best overall player in the division; and the Zarra Trophy, for the top scorer among Spanish domestic players.

Since the 2013–14 season, La Liga has also bestowed the monthly manager of the month and player of the month awards.


The first La Liga player to be involved in a transfer which broke the world record was Luis Suárez in 1961, who moved from Barcelona to Internazionale for £152,000 (£3.3 million in 2018). Twelve years later, Johan Cruyff was the first player to join a La Liga club for a record fee, £922,000 (£11.0 million in 2018) from Ajax to Barcelona. In 1982, Barcelona again set the record by signing Diego Maradona from Boca Juniors for £5 million (£17 million in 2018). [40] Real Betis set the world record in 1998 when they signed Denílson from São Paulo for £21.5 million (£37.2 million in 2018). [41]

Four of the last six world transfer records have been set by Real Madrid, signing Luís Figo, [42] Zinedine Zidane, [43] Cristiano Ronaldo [44] (plus a deal for Kaká days before Ronaldo [45] which fell just below a world record due to the way the fee was calculated) [46] and finally Gareth Bale, who was bought in 2013 for £85.3m (€103.4m or $140m at the time; £96.0m in 2018) from Tottenham Hotspur. [47]

The Brazilian forward Neymar was the subject of an expensive and complicated transfer arrangement when he joined Barcelona from Santos in 2013, [48] [49] and his outgoing transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 set a new world record fee at €222m via his buyout clause. [50] Barcelona soon invested a large amount of the money received from this transfer in a replacement, Ousmane Dembélé, whose deal – €105m – was the second most expensive ever before Philippe Coutinho's transfer to Barcelona for €142m in January 2018. [51] [52]

Player records

Most goals

As of matches played 20 May 2019

Boldface indicates a player still active in La Liga.

1 Flag of Argentina.svg Lionel Messi Barcelona 2004–4194520.93
2 Flag of Portugal.svg Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 2009–20183112921.04
3 Flag of Spain.svg Telmo Zarra Athletic Bilbao 1940–19552512780.9
4 Flag of Mexico.svg Hugo Sánchez Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid, Rayo Vallecano 1981–19942343470.67
5 Flag of Spain.svg Raúl Real Madrid 1994–20102285500.41
6 Flag of Argentina.svg Alfredo Di Stéfano Real Madrid, Espanyol 1953–19662273290.69
7 Flag of Spain.svg César Rodríguez Granada, Barcelona, Cultural Leonesa, Elche 1939–19552233530.63
8 Flag of Spain.svg Quini Sporting Gijón, Barcelona 1970–19872194480.49
9 Flag of Spain.svg Pahiño Celta, Real Madrid, Deportivo 1943–19562102780.76
10 Flag of Spain.svg Edmundo Suárez Valencia, Alcoyano 1939–19501952310.84

Most appearances

As of 31 March 2019
1 Flag of Spain.svg Andoni Zubizarreta 1981–19986220
2 Flag of Spain.svg Raúl 1994–2010550228
3 Flag of Spain.svg Eusebio Sacristán 1983–200254336
4 Flag of Spain.svg Francisco Buyo 1980–19975420
5 Flag of Spain.svg Manuel Sanchís 1983–200152332
6 Flag of Spain.svg Joaquín 2001–51064
7 Flag of Spain.svg Iker Casillas 1999–20155100
8 Flag of Spain.svg Xavi 1998–201550558
9 Flag of Spain.svg Miquel Soler 1983–200350412
10 Flag of Spain.svg Fernando Hierro 1987–2003497104


See also


  1. Spanish:  [kampeoˈnato naθjoˈnal de ˈliɣa ðe pɾiˈmeɾa ðiβiˈsjon] ; "First Division National League Championship"
  2. English: /læˈlɡə/ , [1] Spanish:  [la ˈliɣa] ; "The League"

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