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La Liga

la liga

Liga de Fútbol Profesional, commonly known as La Liga or Primera Division, is the professional football league in Spain and is widely regarded as one of the best leagues in the world.

Nine clubs have been crowned Campeones de Liga. Since the 1950s, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona have dominated the competition. The former have been champions 29 times while the latter have won it on 18 occasions. However during the 1930s and 1940s and in more recent seasons, La Liga has been more competitive. Other winners include Atlético Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Valencia CF, Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Deportivo de La Coruña and Sevilla FC. La Liga also boasts the two most successful clubs in European competition history in Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

La Liga is currently first in the UEFA rankings of European leagues based on their performances in European competitions over a five year period, ahead of Serie A in second and Premier League in third. The 2005–06 average attendance of 29,029 for league matches is the sixth highest of any domestic professional sports league in the world. In professional football leagues La Liga was third highest behind the Bundesliga in first and the Premier League in second.

Format

La Liga currently takes place between the months of September and June. The term La Liga is regularly used to refer to just the Primera Liga on its own, often referred to in Spain as just Primera. However it has always featured a Segunda División, currently designated Segunda División A. The lower leagues, Segunda División B and Tercera División are amateur and regionalised. Teams from La Liga also compete in the Copa del Rey.

The winner of La Liga also plays off against the Copa del Rey winner for the Supercopa de España.

The top four placed Primera Liga teams qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

The fifth and sixth placed teams qualify for the UEFA Cup. A third UEFA Cup placed is awarded to the Copa del Rey winners, the seventh placed Primera Liga team, or the Copa del Rey runners-up. By default the Copa del Rey winner gets the UEFA Cup spot, if the team finished in the fifth or sixth Primera Liga position (hence already qualified for the UEFA Cup), the seventh placed team will qualify for the UEFA Cup, while if the Copa del Rey winner ends Primera Liga amongst the top four placed, the extra UEFA Cup spot goes to the Copa del Rey runers-up.

All the teams have the right to request an invite to enter the UEFA Intertoto Cup. Of all the teams requesting an invite, the two highest placed teams at the end of Primera Liga whithout a UEFA Cup or UEFA Champions League spot will actually play the Intertoto.

The three last placed teams are relegated to the Segunda Division A, and replaced by the top three placed Segunda División A teams.

History

Foundation

In April 1927 Jose Maria 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 Liga in 1928. FC 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, RCD Espanyol and CE Europa qualified as Copa del Rey runners-up and Racing Santander qualified through a knockout competition. Only three of the founding clubs, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, have never been relegated from the Primera Liga.

The 1930s

Although FC Barcelona won the very first La Liga and Real Madrid won their first titles in 1932 and 1933, it was Athletic Bilbao that set the early pace winning La Liga in 1930, 1931, 1934 and 1936. They were also runners-up in 1932 and 1933. In 1935 Real Betis won their only title to date. La Liga was suspended during the Spanish Civil War, but clubs in the Republican area of Spain, with the notable exception of the two Madrid clubs, competed in La Liga del Mediterráneo. FC Barcelona emerged as champions in 1937.

The 1940s

When La Liga resumed in the 1940s it was Atlético Madrid, Valencia CF and Sevilla FC that initially emerged as the strongest clubs. Atlético Madrid were only awarded a place the 1939/40 Primera Liga as a replacement for Real Oviedo, whose ground had been damaged during the war. The club subsequently won their first La Liga title and retained it in 1941. While other clubs lost players to exile, execution and as casualties of the war, the Atlético Madrid team was reinforced by a merger. The young pre-war squad of Valencia CF had also remained intact and in the post-war years matured into champions, gaining three La Liga titles in 1942, 1944 and 1947. They were also runners-up in 1948 and 1949. Sevilla FC also enjoyed a brief golden era, finishing as runners-up in 1940 and 1942 before winning their only title to date in 1946. By the latter part of the decade FC Barcelona began to emerge as a force and they were crowned La Liga champions in 1945, 1948 and 1949.

Di Stéfano, Puskás, Kubala and Suárez

Although Atlético Madrid, were champions in 1950 and 1951, the 1950s saw the beginning of the FC Barcelona/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 its squad, meaning that at least eight local players had to play in every game. During the 1950s, however, these rules were circumnavigated by Real Madrid and FC Barcelona who naturalised Alfredo Di Stéfano, Ferenc Puskás and Ladislao Kubala. Inspired by Kubala, Barca won the title in 1952 and 1953. Di Stéfano, Puskás and Raymond Kopa formed the nucleus of the Real Madrid team that dominated the second half of the 1950s . Real won La Liga for first time as Real Madrid in 1954 and retained it in 1955. They were winners again in 1957 and 1958, with only Athletic Bilbao interrupting their sequence. FC Barcelona with a team coached by Helenio Herrera and featuring Luis Suárez gained the title in 1959 and 1960.

La Liga Clubs in Europe

Meanwhile La Liga teams found success in European competition. Alfredo Di Stéfano and friends also worked their magic in the European Cup and Real Madrid won the cup five times in a row between 1956 and 1960 and then for a sixth time in 1966. La Liga clubs also dominated the Fairs Cup. FC Barcelona, Valencia CF and Real Zaragoza won this competition six times between them between 1958 and 1966, resulting in three all-La Liga finals in 1962, 1964 and 1966. La Liga clubs have continued to be successful in Europe ever since.

Real Madrid have been crowned champions of Europe on 9 separate occasions. La Liga clubs have won 28 major European trophies between them, more than any other league along with the Premier League who also has 28 but La Liga has had more losing finalists than the Premier League. Real Madrid have won 11 titles in total while FC Barcelona have won 9 . Valencia CF have contributed another 4, while Real Zaragoza with 2 and Atlético Madrid and Sevilla FC with 1 each complete the tally. Deportivo La Coruna have been regulars in the UEFA Champions League while Athletic Bilbao, RCD Espanyol, Alaves and RCD Mallorca have all contested major finals. Even smaller La Liga clubs, like Villarreal, Celta Vigo and Málaga CF have found success in Europe, winning the UEFA Intertoto Cup.

The Madrid Years

Between 1961 and 1980, Real Madrid dominated La Liga with the club winning the competition 14 times. This included a five in a row sequence (1961-65) and two three in row sequences (1967-69 and 1978-1980). During this era only Atlético Madrid offered Real any serious challenge, adding four more titles to their tally in 1966, 1970, 1973 and 1977. Only Valencia CF in 1971 and the Johan Cruyff-inspired FC Barcelona of 1974 managed to break the Madrid monopoly. The arrival of Cryuff in La Liga also signalled the easing of restrictions imposed on foreign players.

The 1980s

The Madrid winning sequence was ended more significantly in 1981 when Real Sociedad won their first ever title. They retained it in 1982 and their two in a row was followed by another by their fellow Basques, Athletic Bilbao who won back to back titles in 1983 and 1984. Terry Venables led FC Barcelona to a solitary title in 1985 before Real Madrid won again another five in a row sequence (1986-90) with a team that included Hugo Sánchez and the legendary La Quinta del Buitre - Emilio Butragueño , Manolo Sanchís, Martín Vázquez, Míchel and Miguel Pardeza, guided by Leo Beenhakker.

The 1990s

Johan Cruyff returned to FC Barcelona as manager in 1988, and assembled the legendary Dream Team. Cruyff introduced players like Josep Guardiola, José Mari Bakero, Txiki Beguiristain, Goikoetxea, Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup and Hristo Stoichkov. This team won La Liga four times between 1991 and 1994 and won the European Cup in 1992. Real Madrid, with Michael Laudrup in the team, ended their run in 1995 and added another title in 1997. In between Atlético Madrid won their ninth La Liga title. Inspired by Luís Figo, Luis Enrique and Rivaldo, FC Barcelona again won the title in 1998 and 1999. Meanwhile Real Madrid also won the UEFA Champions League, winning in 1998 and 2000.

21st Century

As La Liga entered a new century, the big two found themselves facing new challengers. Between 1993 and 2004, Deportivo La Coruña finished in the top three on ten occasions, a better record than either Real Madrid or FC Barcelona, and in 2000, under Javier Irureta, they became the ninth team to be crowned champions. Real Madrid won two more La Liga titles in 2001 and 2003 and the UEFA Champions League again in 2000 and 2002. They were challenged by a re-emerging Valencia CF in both competitions. Under the management of Héctor Cúper, Valencia CF finished as runners-up in the UEFA Champions League in 2000 and 2001. His successor, Rafael Benítez, built on this and led the club to a La Liga title in 2002 and a La Liga/UEFA Cup double in 2004. The 2004/05 season saw a resurgent FC Barcelona, inspired by Ronaldinho, win their first title of the new century. 2005/06 again saw Barcelona assert their dominance, winning the title with three games to spare.

In 2005/2006 La Liga further boasted their claim in having the best league in the world with FC Barcelona winning the UEFA Champions League and Sevilla FC winning the UEFA Cup. La Liga became the first league to do the "Double" (UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup) since 1997.

La Liga's dominance in Europe since 2000

Since the turn of the century, La Liga clubs have dominated Europe. In 2000, La Liga had 3 out of the 4 semi-finalists in the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid, Valencia CF and FC Barcelona, Real Madrid went on to beat fellow La Liga side Valencia CF in an all Spanish final. In 2001, La Liga had 2 out of the 4 semi-finalists in the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid and Valencia CF, Valencia CF went on to lose the final again this time to Bayern Munich. Meanwhile, in the UEFA Cup, La Liga had 2 out of the 4 semi-finalists with Deportivo Alaves and FC Barcelona, with Deportivo Alaves losing to Liverpool FC in the final. In 2002, had 2 out of the 4 semi-finalists in the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid beating FC Barcelona in the semi-finals then beating Bayer Leverkusen in the final. In 2003, Real Madrid reached the semi-finals again but this time losing against Juventus. In 2004, Deportivo de la Coruna reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League but lost to eventual champions FC Porto. In the UEFA Cup, La Liga had 2 out of the 4 semi-finalists. Valencia CF beat Villarreal CF in the semi-finals before beating Olympique de Marseille to lift the UEFA Cup. In 2006, La Liga had 2 out of the 4 semi-finalists in the UEFA Champions League with FC Barcelona and Villarreal CF where FC Barcelona went on to become European champions again by beating Arsenal FC 2-1 in the final. Meanwhile, in the UEFA Cup Sevilla FC followed in Barcelona's footsteps by beating a Premier League side in an European final when they defeated Middlesbrough FC 4-0 and become UEFA Cup winners.

With FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC, La Liga took home both European trophies on offer in 2006.

Champions

Year By Year

Year Team
1928-29 FC Barcelona
1929-30 Athletic Bilbao
1930-31 Athletic Bilbao
1931-32 Real Madrid
1932-33 Real Madrid
1933-34 Athletic Bilbao
1934-35 Real Betis
1935-36 Athletic Bilbao
1936-37 not held due to civil war
1937-38 not held due to civil war
1938-39 not held due to civil war
1939-40 Atlético Madrid
1940-41 Atlético Madrid
1941-42 Valencia CF
1942-43 Athletic Bilbao
1943-44 Valencia CF
1944-45 FC Barcelona
1945-46 Sevilla FC
1946-47 Valencia CF
1947-48 FC Barcelona
1948-49 FC Barcelona
1949-50 Atlético Madrid
1950-51 Atlético Madrid
1951-52 FC Barcelona
1952-53 FC Barcelona
1953-54 Real Madrid
1954-55 Real Madrid
Year Team
1955-56 Athletic Bilbao
1956-57 Real Madrid
1957-58 Real Madrid
1958-59 FC Barcelona
1959-60 FC Barcelona
1960-61 Real Madrid
1961-62 Real Madrid
1962-63 Real Madrid
1963-64 Real Madrid
1964-65 Real Madrid
1965-66 Atlético Madrid
1966-67 Real Madrid
1967-68 Real Madrid
1968-69 Real Madrid
1969-70 Atlético Madrid
1970-71 Valencia CF
1971-72 Real Madrid
1972-73 Atlético Madrid
1973-74 FC Barcelona
1974-75 Real Madrid
1975-76 Real Madrid
1976-77 Atlético Madrid
1977-78 Real Madrid
1978-79 Real Madrid
1979-80 Real Madrid
1980-81 Real Sociedad
1981-82 Real Sociedad
Year Team
1982-83 Athletic Bilbao
1983-84 Athletic Bilbao
1984-85 FC Barcelona
1985-86 Real Madrid
1986-87 Real Madrid
1987-88 Real Madrid
1988-89 Real Madrid
1989-90 Real Madrid
1990-91 FC Barcelona
1991-92 FC Barcelona
1992-93 FC Barcelona
1993-94 FC Barcelona
1994-95 Real Madrid
1995-96 Atlético Madrid
1996-97 Real Madrid
1997-98 FC Barcelona
1998-99 FC Barcelona
1999-2000 Deportivo de La Coruña
2000-01 Real Madrid
2001-02 Valencia CF
2002-03 Real Madrid
2003-04 Valencia CF
2004-05 FC Barcelona
2005-06 FC Barcelona

Performance by club

  • Real Madrid: 29
    • 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
  • FC Barcelona: 18
    • 1928-29, 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
  • Atlético Madrid: 9
    • 1939-40, 1940-41, 1949-50, 1950-51, 1965-66, 1969-70, 1972-73, 1976-77, 1995-96
  • Athletic Bilbao: 8
    • 1929-30, 1930-31, 1933-34, 1935-36, 1942-43, 1955-56, 1982-83, 1983-84
  • Valencia CF: 6
    • 1941-42, 1943-44, 1946-47, 1970-71, 2001-02, 2003-04
  • Real Sociedad: 2
    • 1980-81, 1981-82
  • Sevilla FC:1
    • 1945-46
  • Real Betis:1
    • 1934-35
  • Deportivo de La Coruña:1
    • 1999-2000

Individual awards

Many individual awards are conceded relating to La Liga, although not sanctioned by the LFP nor the RFEF they're widely regarded as official. The most notable of them are the Pichichi Trophy, awarded to the top scorer of the season, and the Zamora Trophy for the goalkeeper with the least "goals-to-games" ratio (with a some extra rules, see the main article). Both trophies are awarded by the sports newspaper Marca.

 

The Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup is a golf trophy contested biennially in an event called the "Ryder Cup Matches" by teams from Europe and the United States. The Matches are jointly administered by the PGA of America and the PGA European Tour.

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Some images compliments of morguefile.com and phototakeout.com Text from wikipedia.org