The Start of La Liga
Formed in 1929, La Liga is the premier Spanish football competition. Now consisting of 20 of the best teams in Spain in the first season 10 teams were invited to take part in the competition. Current La Liga ever presents Athletic Bilbao, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid and seven others, Racing de Santander, Espanyol, Real Sociedad, Atletico Madrid, Europa and Getxo.
Prior to the formation of the league the Copa del Rey had been in existence since 1903. The Copa del Rey was the only national level football competition at the time and the winners of it were considered the best team in Spain. Aside from the Copa del Rey were a number of regional competitions throughout the country until La Liga was introduced and galvanised the Spanish Football community.
Since those beginnings La Liga has flourished. One of the premier league's in the world it has contributed multiple winners of the Champions League / European Cup in Real Madrid (13) and FC Barcelona (5). The league continues to produce teams that provide stunning football in La Liga matches but also who perform well in the Europa League and other UEFA competitions.
Early La Liga Seasons
Athletic Bilbao were the club to watch in the early days of La Liga. They won four titles in the first seven seasons and at face value looked like they would dominate Spanish football for years to come. But they did not bank on the current giants of the Spanish game FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Barca won the first La Liga title in 1929 but then went 16 years without a follow-up. El Classico rivals Real Madrid would win two titles in those first 10 years.
After a five year suspension of league activity because of the Spanish Civil War Atletico Madrid and Valencia began to regularly join Real Madrid and Barcelona at the top table of Spanish football. Valencia would go on to win three titles during the 1940's the same as FC Barcelona. Sevilla FC also bagged a La Liga title.
But from the 1950's and give or take a few lean periods Spanish Football has been all about the two European super clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Top La Liga Teams
Real Madrid are holders of the most Champions League / European Cups and they are also the holder of the most La Liga championships. With 34 titles, in terms of complete La Liga decades they have only been unsuccessful in the 1940's, the decade that they moved into the imposing Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Real Madrid have had the world's best players at the peak of their form grace their white shirts. Alfredo Di Stefano and Cristiano Ronaldo may have played in different eras but they were both probably the best players in the world for a sustained period. Throw in Ferenc Puskas, Zinedine Zidane and goalkeeper Iker Casillas and it is fair to say that Real Madrid have and continue to attract the world's best.
FC Barcelona have won La Liga 26 times but not since the 2018/19 season. Fierce rivals with Real Madrid Barca have brought 10 of these titles back to the Camp Nou since the turn of the century. A favourite of football fans all over the world the Catalan club has won a plethora of Spanish and European football tournaments in style. Not to be outdone by Real Madrid, FC Barcelona have also had their fair share of world superstars. Lionel Messi was with Barca for 18 years before his recent move to Paris Saint-Germain scoring 474 goals. Xavi and Andres Iniesta were the best midfielders of their generation. Go further back and you will find Johan Cruyff, Ronaldinho and Carlos Puyol to name but a few.
The title of Best of the Rest is headed by Atletico Madrid with 11 titles, followed by Athletic Bilbao (Athletic Club) (8), Valencia CF (6), Real Sociedad (2), Deportiva La Coruna (2), Sevilla FC (1) and Real Betis (1).
The 2020/21 La Liga Season
Atletico Madrid took their 11th La Liga title back to the Wanda Metropolitano with a championship secured on the last day of the season, coming back from a one goal deficit to beat Valencia 2-1 and secure the title, two points ahead of Real Madrid. Conceding only 25 goals in the whole season, Atletico built on a solid defence. With the pragmatic Diego Simeone in charge and the goals of Luis Suarez, Atletico thrived.
Real Madrid's runners-up position came the season after they had won the La Liga championship. In that title-winning 2020/21 season they had finished 17 points ahead of Atletico who had finished third.
FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC secured Champions League match days at the Camp Nou and Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan for the following season.
Real Sociedad and Real Betis secured Europa League football with Villarreal CF just behind them in seventh spot. Villarreal qualified for the Champions League after winning the Europa League.
Huesca, Valladolid and Eibar were relegated and would be replaced for the 2021/22 season by RCD Espanyol, RCD Mallorca and Rayo Vallecano.
All of the above teams are joined by Deportivo Alaves, Cadiz CF, Celta Vigo, Elche, Getafe, Granada CF, Levante and Osasuna for the 2021/22 season.
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