La Liga – Home of the Spanish Football Giants
While the Premier League has the money and the Bundesliga has incredible fan support, anyone with love for the beautiful games and a passion for quality needs to look no further than Spain’s La Liga. As the home of Real Madrid, the most internationally successful European side of all time, and Barcelona, the second team of many neutrals, it guarantees unmissable action throughout the season.
Footballing Excellence from Top to Bottom
Even some of the world’s best leagues have world-class teams at the top, but the skill-levels soon taper off. That’s not the case in Spanish football. Despite La Liga’s reputation as a two-horse race, it is arguably the best league in the world from first to last. Levante and Eibar may never trouble the latter stages of the Champions League. Nevertheless, the likes of Atlético Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia can lay claim to ranking among the best sides in Europe. Indeed, while they’re yet to taste tangible success in Europe’s premier club competition, five victories since the turn of the millennium have made Sevilla almost synonymous with the Europa League final.
A Historical Event
The idea of a Spanish national league was first mooted in 1927 and Barcelona won the first edition in 1929. The competition has run every year since, aside from a brief, multi-year suspension during the Spanish Civil War.
The league has spent longer than any other as the highest rated on the continent according to UEFA coefficients. Four teams enter the Champions League group stages directly, while a further two enter the Europa League. One additional spot in the secondary competition, typically awarded to the Copa Del Ray winners, may also apply in the league depending on the finishing position of the triumphant club.
At the other end of the table, the three bottom sides at the end of the season suffer direct relegation to the Segunda División, with two directly promoted sides and the season’s play-off winners replacing them.
Two Dream Destinations
As fantastic as the supporting cast may be, football purists need to look no further than El Clasico, the timeless rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid. Few other leagues can lay claim to two Champions League final-worthy matches every season in the league alone. However, that’s precisely what viewers of Spanish football get to experience. It is no secret that for most players around the world, representing either side represents their ultimate goal.
Few players have represented both, potentially put off by the pig’s head incident that framed the direct transfer of Luis Figo from Camp Nou to the Santiago Bernabeu. However, those that do often represent some of the greatest ever to play the game. Figo, himself a Ballon D’Or winner, stands in illustrious company with Ronaldo Nazario, Michael Laudrup and Samual Eto’o, among others.
From Messi versus Ronaldo to Guardiola against Mourinho, this rivalry stands the test of time. It provides the critical storyline to each La Liga season, with both often making significant contributions to European football every year too.
One of the World’s Most Unique Clubs
Outside of the big two, only one team can claim the rare distinction of never having been relegated from La Liga. However, that’s not the most impressive aspect of Athletic Bilbao’s operation. Their transfer policy is unique among major European clubs, in that they only sign players with links to the Basque Country. While an unwritten and occasionally flexible rule, it is impossible not to respect their relative success with only home-grown players, including two Europa League final appearances and multiple forays into European football.
Whether you love football for rivalries, massive clubs or big-name players, Spain’s top division has it all.