La Liga is Spain's major football tournament, welcoming some the top men's professional clubs of the country. Officially called the Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División, and La Liga Santander, for its sponsorship arrangements, it's more commonly known around the world by its shortened name. Based in a country known for its great football teams, the tournament enjoys a worldwide audience. In fact, millions tune in every year to catch La Liga on tv and be entertained by some of the best Spanish football on tv.
The first La Liga was played in 1929, two years after José María Acha came up with the idea. As a director at the Arenas Club de Getxo, Acha worked closely with the Real Federación Española de Fútbol to organise the annual tournament. Its now-familiar name was formerly known as the Primera División.
The First Division competition was made up of just 10 clubs, including Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Athletic Bilbao. In fact, the first six teams were selected based on being previous winners of the Copa del Rey. The next three clubs qualified as they were runners-up in the same competition. Finally, Racing de Santander got in through a knockout competition.
Throughout the decades, different teams seem to have dominated in particular periods. The 1930s, for example, seem to belong to Athletic Bilbao who won the competition four times and were runners-up twice in that decade. The 1940s, following the resumption of the tournament after the civil war, belonged to Atlético de Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona.
The 1950s allowed an increasing number of people to watch La Liga on tv. During this decade, these fans would watch Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate the fixtures. The next 20 years would be remembered as the Real Madrid years, whilst the 90s hosted Barcelona's dream team.
League Format and Qualification
As many who watch Spanish football on TV would know, La Liga implements a double round-robin format. The season beings in August and ends in May, similarly to other major national European tournaments. Each club gets two opportunities to challenge every other club in the tournament. Teams get points based on victories and ties, with the team with the most points raising the La Liga Cup.
Entry into the First Divison comes through being promoted from the nation's Second Division. The top two teams of the Second Division get an automatic promotion in the following season. Similarly, the three teams which fare worst during a season's tournament get relegated from First to Second Division. The third team to make it in La Liga is decided with a series of play-offs between teams ranking third to sixth in the Second Division.
Clubs and Stadiums
Today La Liga is made up of 20 teams which provide fans some of the most thrilling experiences of Spanish football on TV and in stadiums. Many of the teams which dominated the tournament in the past century are still performing especially well. In fact, three of the founding teams, namely Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Athletic Bilbao have never been relegated from the country's First Division.
It is, therefore, not surprising to see that two of these three teams own the largest stadiums by capacity in Spain. Barcelona's Camp Nou can hold over 99,000 audience members, whereas Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu can hold just over 81,000. The third largest stadium is Wanda Metropolitano and is home to Real Madrid's rivals, Atlético Madrid. This stadium can hold over 67,000 cheering fans.
Notwithstanding the stadium's impressive capacity, if you were to fill each of the top 20 stadiums with fans of the tournament you would still be short a couple of million seats. In fact, the largest percentage of fans watch live football on TV, occasionally catching a game live at a stadium. Whilst a portion of these fans reside in Spain, the First Division competition attracts audiences from all over the world, especially South America and North Africa.
Notable Stats and Records
The competition boasts some truly remarkable stats. Real Madrid is the competition's overall most successful winners, with 35 titles to their name. Over the almost century, the team has amassed over 4526 points, playing a total of 2,834 games.
Indeed, these two teams dominated much of the tournament over the decades, and this shows in various other records. Both teams hold a joint record for most wins in a season, with a total of 32. They also both hold the record for most home wins in a season, with 18. Real Madrid, however, is the only team to win 16 away games in a season.
Players and Top Scorers
With so many international viewers watching Spanish football on TV, the players have become superstars. Argentinian Lionel Messi is considered to be a legend both in Spain and in his home country. In 520 appearances Messi scored 474 goals.
Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo is also an international celebrity with football TV fans recognising his signature smile. Ronaldo has played in La Liga 292 times, scoring a total of 311 goals, the highest ratio of the tournament. Home-grown Telmo Zarra places third for most goals scored, at 251 in 278 appearances.
The record for most appearances in La Liga is held by Spaniard Andoni Zubizarreta, with 622 appearances. In fact, the top ten list for most appearances is all made up of Spanish players, including Raúl with 550 and Eusebio Sacristán with 543.
If you would like to catch the latest action of La Liga you have a variety of choices available. Live football on TV can be enjoyed with paid and free services, whilst the Internet is an excellent place to find free football on TV today. With so many teams and players dominating European and world championships, La Liga is truly the best place to enjoy the best football tv.