Spanish National Team Athletic Club Atlético Madrid Real Betis CA Osasuna FC Barcelona Getafe CF Granada CF Levante UD Malaga CF Racing Santander Rayo Vallecano RCD Espanyol RCD Mallorca Real Madrid Real Sociedad Real Zaragoza Sevilla FC Sporting Gijon Valencia CF Villarreal CF

Spain's Primera Liga 2011-2012

The Primera Liga is the jewel in the crown of Spanish football and one of the most glamorous leagues in the world.

Founded in 1928, La Liga de Fútbol Profesional consists of two divisions - Primera and Segunda.

The bank-sponsored Primera División is officially the Liga BBVA but commonly known as just La Liga.

With 31 and 21 Liga titles respectively, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona have long dominated football in Spain, and the 2011-12 season is no exception.

Barça come from completing the one of the most successful seasons in their history - Primera Liga and Champions League in 2010-2011.

Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Puyol and, of course, Josep Guardiola are just a few of the names behind the most thrilling football played in Europe over the last few years.

Not to be outdone, arch-rivals Real Madrid - under president Florentino Pérez and the feared but respected Jose Mourinho - have replied by bringing back glamour to the Sanyiago Bernabéu in the shape of the New Galácticos.

Players of the calibre of Cristiano Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso guarantee that sparks will fly in the battle to become . . .

. . . Primera Liga Champions 2011-12.

Liga Standings 2010-11
1. FC Barcelona
2. Real Madrid
3. Valencia CF
4. Villarreal CF
5. Atlético de Madrid
6. Athletic Club
7. Sevilla FC
8. RCD Espanyol
9. CA Osasuna
10. Sporting de Gijón
11. Málaga CF
12. Racing Santander
13. UD Levante
14. Real Zaragoza
15. Real Sociedad
16. Getafe CF
17. Real Mallorca
18. Real Betis
19. Rayo Vallecano
20. Granada CF

The Big Two

The success of the Primera Liga is mainly down to the two star clubs, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid - the most popular and most successful clubs in the world, respectively.
FC Barcelona's Xavi battles with Real Madrid's Salgado Both Real Madrid and FC Barcelona were founding members of La Liga in 1928 and neither club has ever been relegated to Segunda.

Eighty years of bitter rivalry mean that the passion of a Barça-Madrid Clásico is unmatched by any other game in the world!

Barça won the very first Liga in 1929 and, apart from a fallow period in the 60s and early 70s, have always been in contention for the Primera Liga title.

It wasn't until the mid-fifties that Real Madrid came to dominate Spanish and European football - they won five consecutive European Cups from from 1956 and 1960 and 12 out of 16 Ligas between 1954 and 1969.

Their continuing success leaves them with a trophy haul of 31 Primera Liga titles, 10 European Cups and 17 Copas del Rey.

FC Barcelona have won 21 Ligas and 4 Champions Leagues and after last season's treble are the undisputed Cup Kings with 25 Copa del Rey titles.

The Best of the Rest

Two other clubs that have traditionally been up there with the best are Athletic Club de Bilbao and Atlético de Madrid, who were originally twinned.

Atlético de Madrid were founded by a group of Basque students studying in the capital as a satellite of Athletic Club and that's why both clubs wear the same red and white colours.

With 9 Ligas, Atlético are the third most successful club in Spain but have always lived under the shadow of their mighty neighbours, Real Madrid.

Athletic Club, the Pride of the Basque Country, have 6 Ligas to their name, the last title coming in 1984 when they won the league and cup double.


Athletic de Bilbao only field Basque players and in these times of globalised big money football generally finish in mid-table positions.

Spain's other footballing giant is Valencia CF also with 6 titles to their name.

Yellow Liga de Fútbol Profesional Regulation Soccer Ball Back in Primera, Real Sociedad have won two Liga titles and Betis have won one.

After a slightly disappointing 2010-11, Sevilla FC will be ones to watch in 2011-12.

The other club that deserves a special mention is RCD Espanyol. Espanyol have never won La Liga but are definitely one of Spain's big clubs. White Liga de Fútbol Profesional Regulation Soccer Ball
Much like Atlético de Madrid are often overshadowed by neighbours Real Madrid, Espanyol are in the difficult position of sharing the city of Barcelona with El Barça.

Surprise Contenders Having qualified for Europe yet again, modest Villarreal CF are really establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with and a major trophy is bound to come their way in the near future.
The bulk of the remaining clubs - Málaga CF, CA Osasuna, Real Mallorca, Racing de Santander, Getafe CF, UD Levante and Sporting de Gijón - are not quite as established as top clubs and have all spent periods in Segunda.

Although their objective is often staying out of the relegation zone, all are quite capable of giving the big boys a run for their money.

Most seasons there's an 'equipo revelación' in Primera Liga - a surprise contender that qualifies for Europe.

The New Boys

The three teams that come up from Segunda this year will also contribute to quality of Primera Liga 2011-2012.

For Granada CF, this is the first season in Primera for 35 years but both Rayo Vallecano and Real Betis are established clubs with a reputation for giving a good account of themselves

One of the things that makes Spanish football so exciting are the deep-rooted rivalries that underlie it.

Phil Ball's Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football is the history of the Beautiful Game in Spain.

Full of anecdotes and funny stories as well as good solid research, it brings alive the poltical, cultural and historical reasons why a Barça-Madrid Clásico is such a grudge match.

He also covers Valencia, Galicia and Seville and the story of how the British brought football to Spain at the end of the 19th century.

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