|Number of teams||20|
|Levels on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||Segunda División|
|Domestic cup(s)||Copa del Rey
Supercopa de España
|International cup(s)||UEFA Champions League
UEFA Europa League
|Current champions||Barcelona (22nd title)
|Most championships||Real Madrid (32 titles)|
|TV partners||Canal+ 1
|2012–13 La Liga|
The Primera División[a] (First Division) of the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional (LFP), commonly known in the English-speaking world as La Liga (pronunciation: / /, Spanish: [la ˈliɣa], The League), and officially named for sponsorship reasons Liga BBVA (BBVA League) is the top professional association football division of the Spanish football league system. It is contested by 20 teams, with the three lowest placed teams relegated to the Segunda División and replaced by the top three teams in that division. A total of 59 teams have competed in La Liga, nine of which have been crowned champions. Since the 1950s, Real Madrid and Barcelona have dominated the championship. Real Madrid have won the title a record 32 times and Barcelona 22 times. During the 1930s and 1940s and in the last two decades, however, La Liga has seen other champions, including, Atlético Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Valencia, Real Sociedad, Deportivo, Real Betis, and Sevilla. FC Barcelona is the current defending champion.
La Liga is the strongest league in Europe over the past five years, according to UEFA's league coefficient. La Liga is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in the world, with an average attendance of 30,275 for league matches in the 2011–12 season. This is the fifth-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 German Bundesliga and English Premier League.[dead link]
Competition format 
The competition format follows the usual double round-robin format. During the course of a season, which lasts from September to June, each club plays every other club twice, once at home and once away, for a total of 38 games. Teams receive three points for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, with the highest-ranked club at the end of the season crowned champion. If points are equal between two or more clubs, the rules are:
- If all clubs involved have played each other twice:
- If the tie is between two clubs, then the tie is broken using the head-to-head goal difference (without away goals rule)
- If the tie is between more than two clubs, then the tie is broken, using the games the clubs have played against each other:
- a) head-to-head points
- b) head-to-head goal difference
- c) head-to-head goals scored
- If two legged games between all clubs involved have not been played, or the tie is not broken by the rules above, it is broken using:
- a) total goal difference
- b) total goals scored
- If the tie is still not broken, the winner will be determined by Fair Play scales. These are:
- yellow card, 1 point
- doubled yellow card/ejection, 2 points
- direct red card, 3 points
- Suspension or disqualification to coach, executive or other club's personnel (outside referee decisions), 5 points
- Misconduct of the supporters: mild 5 points, serious 6 points, very serious 7 points
- Stadium closure, 10 points
- If the Competition Committee removes a penalty, the points are also removed
- If the tie is still not broken, it will be resolved with a tie-break match in a neutral stadium.
A system of promotion and relegation exists between the Primera División and the Segunda División. The three lowest placed teams in La Liga are relegated to the Segunda División, and the top two teams from the Segunda División promoted to La Liga, with an additional club promoted after a series of play-offs involving the third, fourth, fifth and sixth placed clubs. Below is a complete record of how many teams played in each season throughout the league's history;
Qualification for European competitions 
The top teams in La Liga qualify for the UEFA Champions League, with the first, second, and third placed teams directly entering the group stage and the fourth placed team entering n the playoffs for the group stage of UEFA Champions League. Teams placed fifth, sixth and seventh stand a chance to play in the UEFA Europa League.
In April 1927, José María 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 División in 1929. 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, Espanyol and Europa qualified as Copa del Rey runners-up and Racing de Santander qualified through a knockout competition. Only three of the founding clubs, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Athletic Bilbao, have never been relegated from the Primera División.
The 1930s 
Although Barcelona won the very first Liga in 1929 and Real Madrid won their first titles in 1932 and 1933, it was Athletic Bilbao that set the early pace winning Primera División in 1930, 1931, 1934 and 1936. They were also runners-up in 1932 and 1933. In 1935, Real Betis, then known as Betis Balompié, won their only title to date. Primera División was suspended during the Spanish Civil War.
In 1937, the teams in the Republican area of Spain, with the notable exception of the two Madrid clubs, competed in the Mediterranean League and Barcelona emerged as champions. Seventy years later, on 28 September 2007, Barcelona requested the RFEF to recognise that title as a Liga title. This action was taken after RFEF was asked to recognise Levante FC's Copa de la España Libre win as equivalent to Copa del Rey trophy.
The 1940s 
When the Primera División resumed after the Spanish Civil War, it was Atlético Aviación (nowadays Atlético Madrid), Valencia, and Sevilla that initially emerged as the strongest clubs. Atlético were only awarded a place during the 1939–40 season as a replacement for Real Oviedo, whose ground had been damaged during the war. The club subsequently won their first Liga title and retained it in 1941. While other clubs lost players to exile, execution, and as casualties of the war, the Atlético team was reinforced by a merger. The young, pre-war squad of Valencia had also remained intact and in the post-war years matured into champions, gaining three Liga titles in 1942, 1944, and 1947. They were also runners-up in 1948 and 1949. Sevilla 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, Barcelona began to emerge as a force when they were crowned champions in 1945, 1948 and 1949.
Di Stéfano, Puskás, Kubala and Suárez 
Although Atlético Madrid, previously known as Atlético Aviación, were champions in 1950 and 1951 under catenaccio mastermind Helenio Herrera, the 1950s saw the beginning of the 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 their squads, meaning that at least eight local players had to play in every game. During the 1950s, however, these rules were circumvented by Real Madrid and Barcelona, who naturalized Alfredo di Stéfano, Ferenc Puskás, and Ladislav Kubala. Inspired by Kubala, Barça won the title in 1952 and 1953. Di Stéfano, Puskás, and Francisco Gento formed the nucleus of the Real Madrid team that dominated the second half of the 1950s. Madrid won the first division for the first time as Real Madrid in 1954 and retained its title in 1955. They were winners again in 1957 and 1958, with only Athletic Bilbao interrupting their sequence. During this period, Real Madrid also won an unprecedented five consecutive European Cups. Barcelona, with a team coached by Helenio Herrera and featuring Luis Suárez, won the title in 1959 and 1960.
The Madrid years 
Between 1961 and 1980, Real Madrid dominated the Primera División, being crowned champion 14 times. This included a five-in-a-row sequence from 1961 to 1965 and two three-in-a-row sequences (1967–1969 and 1978–1980). During this era, only Atlético Madrid offered Real Madrid any serious challenge, adding four more titles to their tally in 1966, 1970, 1973, and 1977. Of the other clubs, only Valencia in 1971 and the Johan Cruyff-inspired Barcelona of 1974 managed to break the dominance of Real Madrid.
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 Barcelona to a solitary title in 1985 before Real Madrid won again another five in a row sequence (1986–1990) with a team guided by Leo Beenhakker and including Hugo Sánchez and the legendary La Quinta del Buitre - Emilio Butragueño, Manolo Sanchís, Martín Vázquez, Míchel and Miguel Pardeza.
The 1990s and 2000s 
Johan Cruyff returned to Barcelona as manager in 1988, and assembled the legendary Dream league title in 1991 after a three-year drought. They were challenged by a re-emerging Valencia in both competitions. Under the management of Héctor Cúper, Valencia finished as Champions League runners-up in 2000 and 2001. His successor, Rafael Benítez, built on this and led the club to a Liga title in 2002 and the winning a double with a league title and the UEFA Cup in 2004. The 2004–05 season saw a resurgent Barcelona, inspired by the brilliant Ronaldinho, win their first title of the new century, in addition to the Liga-Champions League double in 2005–06. With world class players like Raúl, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Gonzalo Higuain, Real Madrid won back to back La Liga titles in 2006–07 and 2007–08 season. Under Josep Guardiola's Dream Team, powered by La Masia talents such as Lionel Messi, Xavi, and Andrés Iniesta, Barcelona added three straight Liga titles (2008–09, 2009–10, and 2010–11).
The 2010s 
In the 2011-2012 season, Real Madrid won its 32nd title under the management of José Mourinho with a record-breaking points tally of 100, a record 121 number of goals scored, most overall (32) and away (16) wins in a single season in La Liga History.
A total of 20 teams will contest the league, including 17 sides from the 2011–12 season and three promoted from the 2011–12 Segunda División. This will include the two top teams from the Segunda División, and the victorious team of the play-offs.
Villarreal CF, Sporting de Gijón and Racing de Santander were relegated to 2012–13 Segunda División the previous season: Villarreal were relegated after twelve years in La Liga, Sporting de Gijón returns to Segunda División after four-year tenure in La Liga, while Racing de Santander ended ten consecutive seasons in La Liga, the longest period in its history.
The three relegated teams were replaced by three 2011–12 Segunda División sides: Deportivo de La Coruña made an immediate return to the top level as Segunda División champion. The second placing team Celta Vigo was also promoted to La Liga after a five-year absence. The third promoted team was decided in the promotion play-offs where Real Valladolid returned to La Liga after two seasons in Segunda División.
Stadia and locations 
|Team||Home city||Stadium||Stadium capacity|
|Athletic Bilbao||Bilbao||San Mamés||39,750|
|Atlético Madrid||Madrid||Vicente Calderón||54,851|
|Celta de Vigo||Vigo||Balaídos||31,800|
|Deportivo La Coruña||A Coruña||Riazor||34,600|
|Espanyol||Cornellà de Llobregat||Cornellà-El Prat||40,500|
|Getafe||Getafe||Coliseum Alfonso Pérez||17,700|
|Granada||Granada||Nuevo Los Cármenes||22,524|
|Levante||Valencia||Ciutat de València||25,534|
|Rayo Vallecano||Madrid||Campo de Vallecas||15,489|
|Real Madrid||Madrid||Santiago Bernabéu||85,454|
|Real Sociedad||San Sebastián||Anoeta||32,076|
|Sevilla||Seville||Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán||45,500|
|Valladolid||Valladolid||Nuevo José Zorrilla||26,512|
La Liga clubs in Europe 
In addition to their success in Primera División, Valencia, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid are four of the most successful teams in European competition history. All four clubs are the only Spanish clubs to have won five or more international trophies. Whilst, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia are also in the top ten most successful clubs in European football in terms of total European trophies. In 2005–06, Barcelona won the UEFA Champions League and Sevilla won the UEFA Cup. The Primera División became the first league to do the European "double" since 1997.
The Primera División is currently first in the UEFA rankings of European leagues based on their performances in European competitions over a five-year period, ahead of the English Premier League in second and Germany's Bundesliga in third.
Performance by club 
||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, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2011–12|
||1929, 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, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13|
||1939–40, 1940–41, 1949–50, 1950–51, 1965–66, 1969–70, 1972–73, 1976–77, 1995–96|
||1929–30, 1930–31, 1933–34, 1935–36, 1942–43, 1955–56, 1982–83, 1983–84|
||1941–42, 1943–44, 1946–47, 1970–71, 2001–02, 2003–04|
|Deportivo La Coruña||
All-time La Liga table 
The All-time La Liga table is an overall record of all match results, points, and goals of every team that has played in La Liga since its inception in 1929. The table is accurate as of the end of the 2011–12 season.
|11||Deportivo La Coruña||41||1666||1378||532||337||509||1882||1941||1||5||4||1||-||1||12||1941–42||2012–13||1|
|12||Celta de Vigo||46||1547||1508||519||348||641||2041||2347||-||-||-||2||4||4||10||1939–40||2012–13||4|
|13||Racing de Santander||44||1416||1428||453||336||639||1843||2368||-||1||1||2||-||1||5||1929||2011–12||2|
|15||Sporting de Gijón||40||1319||1382||454||339||589||1671||2018||-||1||1||2||2||1||7||1944–45||2011–12||2|
|40||Recreativo de Huelva||5||188||186||50||46||90||202||296||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||1978–79||2008–09||8|
|45||Arenas de Getxo||7||107||130||43||21||66||227||308||-||-||1||-||3||-||4||1929||1934–35||3|
|47||Gimnàstic de Tarragona||4||91||116||34||16||66||181||295||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||1947–48||2006–07||7|
League or status at 2012–13:
|2012–13 La Liga|
|2012–13 Segunda División|
|2012–13 Segunda División B|
|2012–13 Tercera División|
|2012–13 Divisiones Regionales|
|To be determined|
|No longer affiliated with RFEF|
|Clubs that no longer exist|
Eligibility of non-EU players 
In La Liga, players can claim citizenship from the nation their ancestors came from. If a player does not have European ancestry, he can claim Spanish citizenship after playing in Spain for five years. Sometimes, this can lead to a triple-citizenship situation; for example, Leo Franco, who is Argentine-born, of Italian heritage, and can claim a Spanish passport, having played in La Liga for over five years.[dubious ]
In addition, players from the ACP countries — countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific that are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement — are not counted against non-EU quotas, due to the Kolpak ruling.
Individual awards 
Until season 2008–09, no official awards for La Liga existed. Following the 2008–09 season, the Liga de Fútbol Profesional, the governing body, instated the LFP Awards. Apart from these awards, many individual awards are conceded relating to La Liga, although not sanctioned by the LFP nor the Royal Spanish Football Federation and therefore not regarded as official.
The most notable of these are four awarded by Spain's biggest sports paper, Marca, namely the Pichichi Trophy, awarded to the top scorer of the season, the Ricardo Zamora Trophy for the goalkeeper with the least "goals-to-games" ratio; the Trofeo Alfredo di Stéfano, for the player judged to be the best overall player in the division; and the Zarra Trophy is awarded to the Spanish domestic player with the highest goal total in La Liga.
All-time top scorers, top 30 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2012)|
|4||Alfredo di Stéfano||1953–1966||227||329||0.69|
|José Mari Bakero||1980–1997||139||483||0.29|
|28||José Luis Panizo||1939–1955||136||325||0.41|
|29||Jesús María Satrústegui||1973–1986||133||297||0.45|
(Bold denotes players still playing in La Liga.)
Ballon d'Or 
- Alfredo Di Stéfano - 1957, 1959 (Real Madrid)
- Raymond Kopa - 1958 (Real Madrid)
- Luis Suárez - 1960 (Barcelona)
- Johan Cruyff - 1973, 1974 (Barcelona)
- Hristo Stoichkov - 1994 (Barcelona)
- Rivaldo - 1999 (Barcelona)
- Luís Figo - 2000 (Barcelona/Real Madrid)
- Ronaldo - 1997 (Barcelona), 2002 (Inter Milan/Real Madrid)
- Ronaldinho - 2005 (Barcelona)
- Fabio Cannavaro - 2006 (Juventus/Real Madrid)
- Lionel Messi - 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 (Barcelona)
See also 
- Football records in Spain
- List of attendance figures at domestic professional sports leagues
- List of football clubs in Spain
- List of foreign La Liga players
- Supercopa de España
- Spanish pronunciation: [pɾiˈmeɾa ðiβiˈsjon].
- "European football statistics". 2008.
- "Reglamento General de la RFEF 2010 (Artículo 201)" (in Spanish). RFEF. 7 June 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
- "Criterios de puntuación del juego limpio" (in Spanish). RFEF. 30 October 1998. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
- "Ronaldo agrees six-year Real deal". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 26 June 2009. Retrieved 27 June 2009.
- "UEFA club competitions press kit (.PDF archive, page 23)". UEFA Official Website. Retrieved 2006-08-25.
- "UEFA ranking of European leagues". Bert Kassies. May 2011.
- "Clasificación Histórica Liga BBVA". LFP. 14 May 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- All Time Table of Spanish team in La Liga Rsssf.com
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