Tue 18 August 2020 | 13:00

La Liga History, from early days to the legendary Messi vs. Ronaldo

In the following article, SportMob will have a brief look at La Liga history, from its birth in 1929 till the bizarre 2019-2020 season which saw the league suspended for few months, due to Covid-19 Pandemic.

La Liga

, also known as Primera Division, is Spain's top football league. It was founded in 1929, two years after

Jose Acha

, a director at

Arenas Club de Getxo

, came up with the idea of a national league and almost four decades after football was introduced to Spanish people. A total of ten teams participated in the first season, which FC Barcelona won. Real Madrid was the last champion (2019-2020), in one of the most bizarre seasons in the

History of La Liga

which saw the league suspended for more than three months, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Everything You Need to Know about the History of La Liga

Now let us have a brief look at the spanish La Liga's history and see Which team came on top in different eras.

Early decades and the most influential figures


According to La Liga title history, Although 


was the first champion of La Liga in 1929 and Real Madrid celebrated its first title three years later, it was Athletic Bilbao which was the first dominating force, winning four titles and ending three seasons as the runner-up in the 1930s.

La Liga was suspended between1937 to 1939 because of the Spanish civil war and resumed one year after the war ended. The period after the war was characterized by General Franco's strict policies, which affected football as well. One of Franco's policies was banning the use of non-Castilian names for La Liga clubs. Many teams had to change their names and in one of the most famous incidents of 

La Liga team's logo history

, the Catalan shield was removed from FC Barcelona's shirt.

In the 1940s many different teams had their names written in 

La Liga winners history

 as Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia, Real Madrid, and Barcelona all won the championship at least once.

Josef Simitier

, a legendary player of both Real Madrid and Barcelona and 

Helenio Herera

, the mastermind behind the famous 


 style, were the two most influential figures of La Liga's post-war period. Simitier won three la Liga and a Copa Del Rey with Barcelona in the late 1940s. Herera, meanwhile, guided his Atletico Madrid side to back-to-back La Liga titles at the beginning the 1950's.  

The beginning of Real Madrid-Barcelona Dominance


By now every football fan is well aware of the famous Real Madrid-Barcelona Rivalry. These two teams have won more than two-thirds of the tittles in 

La Liga champions history

 and their head-to-head fixture, known around the world as 

El Clasico

, is the most viewed football game of the year, next to the Champions League final. But back in the '50s, these two giants were just beginning to dominate their opponents in La Liga.

FC Barcelona was the superior force throughout the 1950s. Coached by 

Helenio Herera

 and boasted by the qualities of legendary players like 

Laszlo Kubala, Cesar Rodriguez, and Mariano Gonzalvo,

 they won three back-to-back La Liga titles. Yet their most historic feat in 

La Liga winners history

 was achieved in 1952, when they won five out of five possible titles in Spanish football including La Liga, Copa Del Rey, and the Spanish super cup. Meanwhile in Madrid, 

Los Blancos

 were busy building a superior force that would dominant La Liga in the following two decades. A change in La Liga rules regarding the recruit of foreign players let Real Madrid secures the services of some of the best superstars of the planet as Legends like 

Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Raymond Kopa, and Francisco Gento

 helped Real Madrid to become the most powerful team, not only in La Liga but in the entire world.

The Madrid Years" and the entrance of Johan Cruyff"

The following two decades of 

La Liga history

 are famous for Real Madrid's total dominance over their rivals and are known as "the Madrid Years". Based on the official La Liga winners list, Los Blanco's Superiority was such that they won an incredible 14 out of 20 possible titles. The other Madrid Giants,

Atletico Madrid

, were also able to celebrate four titles during this period. 

Di Stefano

 moved to Valencia in the final years of his career and helped them write their names in the La Liga champions list in 1971, but the most promising star of La Liga in the '70s was the Dutch legendary play-maker, 

Johan Cruyff

 who assisted Barcelona to come out of their bitter rival's shadow and inspired them to La Liga glory in 1974. 

Barcelona's Dream Team and Real Madrid Galacticos

Throughout the 1980's the hegemony of Barcelona and Real Madrid lessened temporarily and both Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad were able to celebrate back-to-back titles. Then 

Johan Cruyff

 returned to Barcelona and assembled what would become one of the most popular teams in the history of football. He expanded the idea of possession-based 

Total Football

 and with the help of a golden generation of Barcelona's football academy, 

La Masia

, the team went on to win four straight championships from 1991 till 1994. In total, Cruyff won 11 trophies in 8 years and was the most accomplished manager in Barcelona's history until 

Pep Guardiola

 broke the record almost twenty years later, with 14 titles in 4 seasons. 

Pep Guardiola, Romario, Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov, and Ronald Koeman

 were the most influential players of FC Barcelona in this era.

At the beginning of the 21



Florentino Perez

 won Real Madrid presidency election against 

Lorenzo Sanz

, introducing a new transfer policy in the 

history of Spanish La Liga

 which was based on buying expensive new signings each year. His first achievement was the infamous transfer of FC Barcelona's main star and captain, 

Luis Figo

 to Real Madrid. 


 went on to buy some of the most successful and popular superstars of the football world such as 

Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo Nazario, David Beckham, and Roberto Carlos.

 This Real Madrid team, known as 


 Galacticos in 

La Liga history

 went on to win three titles. However, their dominance ended in 2004 at the hand a Barcelona side, Guided by 

Frank Rijkaard

, the team dazzled the game by the quality of stars such as 



Samuel Eto'o

 and the emergence of the Argentinian teenager sensation, 

Lionel Messi


Pep Guardiola's era and the duel of Messi vs Ronaldo

In 2008 


 was fired from Barcelona after a lackluster two-season spell which saw Real Madrid winning both titles. In a rather radical move Barcelona president, 

Juan Laporta

 decided to appoint 

Pep Guardiola 

as the head coach, despite the latter's lack of experience in coaching. The decision paid off incredibly. Guardiola's first move was to let the two main stars of the team, 




 leave the club and instead opted to build his new team around 

Lionel Messi

 and other 

La Masia

 talents such as 

Xavi, Carlos Puyol, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, and Sergio Busquets

. He also revolutionized Cruyff's version of 

Total Football

 with high-pressing and 


 Tactics. His team conquered every competition in the football world and went on to win a total of 14 titles in 4 seasons, including the unprecedented sextuple at 2008-2009 season.

This the era is also famous in the Spanish 

La Liga History

 for the incredible rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid superstars, 

Lionel Messi




Cristiano Ronaldo

. The Portuguese legend joined 

Los Blancos

 in 2009 and helped them break Barcelona's Hegemony twice. First in 2011-2012, when Madrid won the league under manager 

Jose Mourinho

 and later in 2016-2017 season with 


 in charge. But apart from the domestic titles and the amazing duel he enjoyed against 

Lionel Messi

, Ronaldo's biggest achievement with Real Madrid was on the Continental competitions, as Real Madrid were able to win the 

Uefa Champions League

 a record three times in a row between 2015 to 2018.

On the domestic level, Barcelona has been able to maintain its dominance over the rivals in the last decade of 

La Liga table history

They have won 8 out of 12 titles in the past dozen years. Their best season after the departure of 


 was in 2014-2015, when the trio of 

Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, and Neymar

, known as 


, was on fire and the team, under the management of Luis Enrique became the only side in Spanish football history to win the treble on two occasions. Apart from Real Madrid and Barcelona, 

Diego Someone

's Atletico Madrid has been the only team able to taste La Liga glory in the past 16 years, as they managed to win the title in 2013-2014, their tenth title in the

 La Liga champions list


As of summer 2020, Real Madrid is the reigning champion of La Liga, winning the 2019-2020 season which was suspended for three months because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, after an impressive 10 game winning streak at the end of campaign.

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Individual Trophies, and the most Iconic Records


The Pichichi Trophy  

At the end of each La Liga season, the player with most goals scored is awarded The Pichichi Trophy. The trophy has been presented by the Spanish famous Sport newspaper, Marca since 1952. The legendary Telmo Zarra was the first player to win the trophy, scoring 24 goals in 29 matches for Athletic Bilbao. Zarra went on to win another 5 Pichichi trophies in his career. His record lasted many years until Messi won his seventh Pichichi in the 2019-2020 season, scoring 25 goals for Barcelona in 38 matches. 

The Zamora Trophy

Also presented by sports newspaper, Marca, and named after the great Argentinian goalkeeper, 

Telmo Zara

 who played for Espanyol in the 1920s, The Zamora Trophy is awarded each season to the goalkeeper who concedes the least ratio of goals. 

Antoni Ramallets

 of Barcelona was the first goalkeeper to win it, conceding 24 goals in 28 games. Real Madrid Belgian goalkeeper, 

Thibaut Courtois

 was the winner of the award in the 2019-2020 season, with an impressive stats of only 20 goals conceded in 38 matches. 

Victor Valdez



 are the shared record-holders, both winning the award 5 times. 

Most Iconic Records

As of August 2020, many of the all-time record in

 La Liga history 

are held by Barcelona's Argentinian magician, Lionel Messi, including:

  • Most goals scored (444 goals in 485 games)

  • Most assists (183)

  • Most goals in a single campaign (50 goals in 2011-2012)

  • Most goals scored in a calendar year (91 goals in 2012)

  • Most opponents scored against (37)

  • Best goal-scoring streak (33 goals in 21 consecutive games in 2011-2012 season)

  • Most hat-tricks (37)​

The real Madrid Portuguese legend and Messi's rival, Cristiano Ronaldo also holds some all-time records despite playing only 9 seasons in La Liga. Among those records are:

  • Most league hat-tricks scored in a season (8 hat-tricks, joint with Messi)

  • Fastest to reach 150, 200, 250 and 300 La Liga goals

  • Most penalties taken (72)

  • Most penalties scored (61)

The great FC Barcelona goalkeeper, Andoni Zubizarreta holds the record for most career appearance in La Liga with 622 games played.

Most interesting Statistical facts

  • In almost a century of professional football in La Liga, only 9 teams have lifted the trophy.

  • Barcelona and Real Madrid has been the two most successful clubs in La Liga table history, winning 61 out of 90 possible titles. Real Madrid is the record holder with 34 titles and Barcelona is the second place with 26. Atletico Madrid is the third, winning a total of 10 trophies.

  • Only Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Athletic Bilbao have never been relegated in Spanish La Liga history.

  • Athletic Bilbao has the best winning margin in the history of La Liga, humiliating Barcelona 12-1 in 1931. Athletic Bilbao 9-5 win against Racing Santander in 1933 is the game with most goals in the history of La Liga.

  • Laszlo Kubala and Agustín Sauto Arana are the only two players in the history of La Liga to score 7 goals in a single match.

  • It took Brazilian world-cup winner and Deportivo La Coruña legend, Bebeto only 4 minutes and 43 seconds to score the fastest hat-trick in the history of La Liga. (Against Albacete in 1995)

  • The Brazilian goalkeeper, Diego Alves has saved a record 22 penalties in his La Liga career, including another record of 6 penalty saves in a single season (2016-2017)

What other interesting facts do you know about the La Liga history? Let us know in the comment section below.

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