La Liga Santander for sponsorship reasons with Santander, is the men’s top professional football division of the Spanish football league system. Administered by the National Professional Football League, “La Liga” is contested by 20 teams, with the three lowest-placed teams at the end of each season relegated to the lower division and replaced by the top three teams in that division.
A total of 62 teams have competed in La Liga since its inception. Nine teams have been crowned champions, with Real Madrid winning the title a record 33 times and Barcelona 26 times. Barcelona won the inaugural La Liga in 1929 with Athletic Bilbao claiming several titles in the league’s early years.
Barcelona and Real Madrid dominated the championship in the 1950s, winning four La Liga titles each throughout the decade. Real Madrid dominated La Liga from the 1960s through the 1980s, when Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao, and Real Sociedad won the league twice in those years. From the 1990s onward, Barcelona has dominated La Liga, winning 16 titles.
Although Real Madrid has been prominent, winning 8 titles, La Liga has also seen other champions, including Atlético Madrid, Valencia, and Deportivo de La Coruña.
According to UEFA’s league coefficient, La Liga has been the top league in Europe over the last five years and has led Europe for more years than any other country. It has also produced the continent’s top-rated club more times than any other league, more than double that of second-placed Serie A.
Its clubs have won the most UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League (11), UEFA Super Cup (15), and FIFA Club World Cup titles, and its players have accumulated the highest number of Ballon d’Or awards, The Best FIFA Men’s Player including FIFA World Player of the Year (19) and UEFA Men’s Player of the Year including UEFA Club Footballer of the Year.
La Liga is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in the world, with an average attendance of 26,983 for league matches in the 2017–18 season. This is the sixth-highest of any domestic professional sports league in the world and the third-highest of any professional association football league in the world, behind the Bundesliga and the Premier League.