The numbers paint a picture. In the 91 years of La Liga’s existence, Barcelona and Real Madrid have shared a whopping 59 league titles, effectively monopolising domestic success for long periods of time.
Other Spanish clubs have had their day in the sun and won major trophies, but we ask, can any of them de-throne the big two for good?
A history of dominance
Real Madrid are in the clear as the most successful team in Spanish football history with 33 league titles to date. An imperious run of 14 league titles between 1960 and 1980 helped to cement their dominance, as did a run of five league titles in a row between 1986 and 1990.
As unstoppable as Real looked, Barcelona have been every bit as good in recent times. Pep Guardiola’s side of 2008-2012 is considered one of the best of all time, and the Catalan side are rapidly catching up with their arch-rivals, having won eight La Liga titles in eleven years.
Many of the greatest players of all time have graced either the white shirt of Real or the blue and red of Barcelona, with some like Luis Figo brave enough to do both. When Figo came back to Barcelona with his Real Madrid side an opposition fan threw a pig’s head at him, highlighting how vicious the rivalry is.
Barcelona know that a big shock is in the post, as 32-year-old Lionel Messi, their Argentine diamond and probably the greatest player of all time, can’t carry on playing forever. Real Madrid have already had their Messi moment when talisman Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus, yet in typical fashion they softened the blow by splurging money on ready-made stars like Eden Hazard.
Real do look a little light in midfield, with Luka Modric nearing the end of his time at the top of the game. Both teams have issues, yet as they say, the bookies don’t lie, and as usual the outrhight winner La Liga betting odds paint Barcelona and Real Madrid as the two clear favourites for the title. Most likely, the odds will be in their favour for some time.
Who could stop them?
As the last team outside of the big two to win a league title in 2014, Atletico Madrid are the obvious choice. Diego Simeone has worked wonders to take Atleti to two Champions League finals, yet poetically, El Cholo’s team were beaten by city rivals Real Madrid on both occasions. The recent Champions League win over Liverpool demonstrated that Simeone’s side have still got it, though.
On this day in 2014, Atletico won La Liga over both Messi’s Barcelona and CR7’s Real Madrid.— EiF (@EiFSoccer) May 17, 2020
In this last decade, how highly do you rate this title win? pic.twitter.com/fLvtyRRlub
Sevilla did win three Europa League titles in a row between 2014 and 2016, yet despite consistently challenging at the top of the table for some time now, they have only won one La Liga title in their history – in 1946. Valencia are slowly beginning to look more like the club that made waves in Europe at the turn of the century, when they featured in the biggest game of all – the Champions League final. Truth be told though, Atleti look like the only team capable of challenging for any sustained period of time.