La Liga

Undoubtedly when we talk about the two biggest clubs in the world, we talk about Real Madrid and F.C Barcelona both who trade their football in “La Liga” in Spain. These two teams are by far the two biggest names in world football.

La Liga was founded in 1929 and has currently 20 teams in its top division with the three lowest placed teams relegated to the Segunda División and replaced by the top two teams in that division plus the winner of a play-off.  Each club plays every other club twice, once at home and once away, for a total of 38 games. Teams receive three points for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss. Although La Liga differs from other leagues in Europe where as when two clubs finish the season on the same amount of points, it then does not go down to goal difference to see who wins the championship but it goes down to head to head. Since its existence in 1929 la liga started off with 10 clubs and has now risen to 20 clubs.

La Liga is the strongest league in Europe over the past five years. It is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in the world.

Since the 50’s and 60’s Real Madrid and Barcelona have dominated Spanish football winning a total of 54 titles between them, Real Madrid (32) Barcelona (22) with only a handful of other teams contesting the title with the most recent team being Valencia in the 2003-4 season. The last couple of seasons we have seen the emergence of Atletico Madrid who have been quite a handful for the big two and are currently having one of their best seasons to date. This can only be good for La Liga as in the past and present it has become a 2 horse race for the title so any team that starts to challenge has to be good for Spanish football and la liga.

The season in la liga runs from September to June with a winter break for 2 weeks last week of December through first week of January with games being played on Saturday and Sunday and also a few mid week. Unlike most of the teams in Europe a lot of the games in la liga are played in the evening time, usually between 8pm-10pm Spanish time and it is well know that sometimes games don’t finish to close to midnight on some occasions

During the latter half of the 20th century Barcelona re-emerged as something of a forced to be reckoned with, with the realm of Spanish Football. It was during this time that the rules changed regarding the number of foreign players which were able to play for each team, as certain clubs naturalized top players in order to include them. Real Madrid dominated the Primera División between 1961 and 1980, with Atlético Madrid proving to be their only serious competitor. The 1990s saw Barcelona dominate once again, as manager Johan Cruyff returned to put together what became known as the ‘Dream Team’. This newly formed team won the Primera División six times during this period, as well as the 1992 European Cup. To this day Real Madrid still hold the record for most European cups (9 in total). In addition to their success in Primera División, Valencia, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid are four of the most successful teams in European competition history. All four clubs are the only Spanish clubs to have won five or more international trophies. Whilst, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia are also in the top ten most successful clubs in European football in terms of total European trophies.

Since its existence la liga has seen some of the best players in the world grace its division, the likes of Puskas, Di Stefano, Maradona ,Zidane ,Ronaldo  have all played in la liga. Currently the two best footballers on the planet play their trade in la liga – Cristiano Ronaldo who plays for Real Madrid and Lionel Messi who plays for Barcelona.

You only have to visit the likes of the “Nou camp” and the “Santiago Bernabeu” to truly realise what amazing grounds they are, both hold capacity of over 80,000 people and the atmosphere can be electric especially when the big two are playing. I had the opportunity of visiting these two grounds, both empty, and when a game was on and all I can say is ‘WOW’.

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