Football is more than just a sport in Spain; it is like a religion. Spanish football enjoys a rich footballing heritage, arguably second only to England and Italy. Despite what you might know, Real Madrid, Atletico, Madrid, and Barcelona are not the only teams. Seventeen other teams compete with these Spanish giants in the Spanish La Liga, also known as the Primera Division. This guide shares some essential facts about the Spanish La Liga.
History has it that the La Liga started in 1929. However, it was suspended for two years from 1937 – 1939 while the country was embroiled in a civil war. During its early years, the La Liga had only ten teams. The number of clubs has since grown to 20. It is worth noting that only three teams among the founding ten have not been relegated – Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Bilbao. Notably, Real Madrid and Barcelona have been dominant forces in Spanish football with 58 league titles between them (33 and 25 respectively).
La Liga Season
Like the English Premier League, the Spanish Primera Division runs from August to May. With 20 teams battling it out on the pitch for top honors, each plays 38 La Liga matches. The race for the title has always been between Real Madrid and Barcelona, but other teams like Sevilla, Valencia, and Atletico Madrid have also made their presence felt.
The footballing season also sees players compete for personal trophies. The race for Primera Division often a hotly contested battle, and so is the competition for the League’s top scorer – the Pichichi Trophy. Over the years, this has been a contest between the world’s greats with Lionel Messi (Barcelona) and Cristiano Ronaldo (formerly at Real Madrid), dominating this race.
The club that manages to win La Liga’s Primera Division automatically qualifies for the Champions League the next season. Both the second and third placed team qualify for the Champions League, while the team that finishes fourth has to go for a Champion’s League qualifier tie. Teams that finish fifth and sixths qualify for the Europa League.
The bottom three clubs are relegated to the Segunda division, while to the top-ranked teams in the Segunda Division are promoted into Primera Division. Any team that gets 40 points is assured of safety, and cannot be related despite its position on the league.
For years, the Spanish La Liga has been associated with the best brand of football. With the Primera Division boasting of having players like Lionel Messi, Luca Modric, Antoine Griezmann, Santi Cazorla, and Gareth Bale among others, La Liga football is a delight to watch. For fans of La Liga in the United States and other parts of the world, you might stream live matches or folk a little more dough to your cable TV company.