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15 Greatest La Liga Teams of All Time

There are many great soccer nations in Europe and each one of them claims that they have the strongest League and the best teams.

Whilst many don’t have a chance against the might of the English Premier League, the Spanish La Liga can justifiably claim to have some of the greatest teams in soccer history within its structure.

Today we are going to be traveling across Spain and taking a look at the 15 greatest La Liga teams of all time. 

Vamos!

15. Getafe CF

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We start our list with a side that is based just outside of the Spanish capital Madrid, Getafe Club de Fútbol was only founded in July 1983 and has had a meteoric rise to the top in the following years. 

The ‘Azulones’ or ‘Deep Blue Ones’ as they are known play their matches at the Coliseum Alphonso Perez, a stadium with a capacity of just 17,000.

This makes it one of the smaller arenas in the Spanish topflight, but this does not mean that the Getafe faithful cannot muster up some immense support for their club.

Since first being promoted to La Liga in 2004, Getafe has played 12 seasons in the League. Their best season saw the team take 5th place in 2018-19 and qualify for their first-ever European Competition, the UEFA Europa League. 

14. RC Celta de Vigo

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Next up, we are heading to Galicia in the Northwest of Spain and to Real Club Celta de Vigo. Celta (as they are referred to by their fans) was founded in 1923 and will soon be celebrating their centenary year. the club plays its matches at the 29,000-seater Balaidos. 

For many years Celta lived in the shadows of their more successful neighbors Deportivo La Caruna, however, in more recent times Celta has proven to be the better side. In the 2002-03 season, the club finished in an impressive 4th place, and this remains their best-ever League finish.

European football is where Celta has shone in the past decade, with them famously reaching the UEFA Europa League semi-finals in 2016-17. Celta fought hard but were eliminated by eventual winners Manchester United. 

13. Málaga CF

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In 13th place we reach a team that has fallen upon hard times in the past few years, falling into the Segunda Division in 2018 and remaining there indefinitely. Málaga CF was once one of the strongest teams in Spain for a few seasons, reaching as high as 4th place in the 2011-12 season.

Málaga was formed in 1948 and plays at the La Rosalada which has a capacity of over 30,000. It is rather saddening to see a team of this stature, sit in the 2nd division of Spanish Soccer. 

Like many Spanish teams, their finest moment came in European competition. Málaga won the UEFA Intertoto Cup (a now defunct tournament) in 2002, beating fellow Spanish team Villareal 2-1 after a two-legged fixture. This win would also see them qualify for the UEFA Cup the next season. 

12. Real Betis

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In 12th place, it is Real Betis Balompié (or simply Betis), the first team on our list that has won the La Liga title. Betis took the trophy in the 1934-35 season, where they narrowly bested Madrid FC to take their one and only La Liga title.

Betis have also won three Copa del Rey titles and are the current holders of that trophy having beaten Valencia in the Final. After a few years of despair, including a spell in the Segunda Division, things are looking up for Betis who took 5th place last season. 

The green and white clad team plays their home games at the Estadio Benito Villamarin, which holds 60,720 people that are always vocal in their support for this rather up-and-down club. 

Betis are currently managed by former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini and look set to impress yet again in the 2022-23 season. 

11. Villareal CF 

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We are moving East towards the region of Castellón to visit the next team on our list, Villareal Club de Futból S.A.D (Villareal for short). The club was founded in 1923 and spent most of its formative years competing in the lower levels of Spanish Soccer. Villareal was first promoted to La Liga in 1998. 

Their best La Liga finish came in the 2007-08 season, where they pushed eventual winners Real Madrid hard but came up short in the race for the title. Villareal has tasted victory in Europe most recently though, with them beating Manchester United in the 2020-21 UEFA Europa League Final. 

The team’s stadium is called the Estadio de la Cerámica and houses 23,500 fans during a matchday. After finishing in 7th place last season under former Arsenal manager Unai Emery, Villareal will be looking to improve on this and return to the UEFA Champions League next season. 

10. RCD Espanyol

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As we reach the top ten, it is the local rivals of FC Barcelona, RCD Espanyol who take the 10th spot. The club was founded in 1900 and is one of the oldest in La Liga, they currently play at the 40,000-seater RCDE Stadium. 

Espanyol may well be one of the oldest in La Liga however, they have never won the title. They have won four Copa Del Rey trophies though, most recently in the 2005/06 season. The club then endured a long trophy draught until the 2020/21 season in which they won the Segunda Division title and were promoted back to La Liga. 

Existing in the shadows of such a giant neighbor like FC Barcelona cannot be easy for Espanyol, but they are slowly improving each season and took 14th place last time around. 

9. Real Zaragoza

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Yet another team that has suffered the bitter taste of relegation to the Segunda Division in recent years, Real Zaragoza takes the 9th spot on our list. The club was previously one of the longest-serving members of La Liga before its relegation to the second tier in 2013. 

The club plays their games at the La Romareda stadium, which has a capacity of 33,608. The club is also one of the best-supported teams in Spain outside of the main cities. 

Despite never winning La Liga, Zaragoza has had plenty of success in other competitions such as the Copa Del Rey (six times), the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, and the UEFA Cup Winners Cup. The latter is the team’s biggest achievement and was won in 1995 following victory over Arsenal in the Final. 

8. Real Sociedad

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In 8th place is Real Sociedad from the fabled Basque Country, one of the proudest and independent regions in the whole of Spain. The team was founded in 1909 and played its matches at Anoeta Stadium (39,500 capacity).

The club has experienced much success in its 112-year existence, including two La Liga titles. These titles were won back-to-back in the early 1980s and can be backed up with three triumphs in the Copa Del Rey and Spanish Super cup.

Unlike some in this list, Sociedad has not enjoyed much European success. They have twice played in the UEFA Champions League and in the 2003-04 season they reached the last 16 before being eliminated by Lyon from France. 

Sociedad are improving once more though and managed to take 6th place in La Liga last season. 

7. Deportivo La Coruna

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Perhaps one of the most dramatic falls from grace in the past few decades of Soccer history, the story of Deportivo La Coruna was until their relegation from La Liga a successful one. The team currently played their Soccer in the Priméra Division RFEF, the third tier of Spanish Soccer. 

Despite Deportivo’s recent struggles they remain one of the most well-supported and successful clubs in Spain, having won the La Liga title in the year 2000, as well as two Copa Del Rey and three Spanish Super Cups. Global fans will fondly remember the Galician teams’ escapades in the UEFA Champions League though.

Deportivo’s finest hour came when they reached the UEFA Champions League Semi-Finals in the 2003-04 season, where they could only be beaten 1-0 by eventual winners FC Porto.

It remains to be seen whether these days will ever return to the Riazor, for now their focus is on getting back to the Segunda Division. 

6. Valencia CF

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We really are getting to the ‘big boys’ of Spanish Soccer now, 6th place goes to Valencia. The team, founded in 1919 plays its home matches at the famous Mestalla Stadium. This legendary old ground holds up to 48,600 fans and is one of the loudest in Europe some days. 

The club has won a total of six La Liga titles, most recently in the 2003-04 season when they dueled with Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Deportivo for the trophy. More recently though, success has been easier to come by in the Copa Del Rey with Valencia last winning the cup in 2018. 

In European competition, Valencia’s record is also impressive. The club has won several continental honors, most notably the old UEFA Cup in 2003-04. Valencia defeated Marseille in the Final to complete a memorable domestic and European double. 

5. Sevilla FC

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In 5th place on the list are the most successful team in the history of the UEFA Europa League, Sevilla FC has won the competition a total of six times (including three times in a row between 2013 and 2016). 

In the League, Sevilla has one La Liga title to their name having won the trophy in the 1945-46 season following the conclusion of WW2. In the Copa Del Rey, Sevilla has taken five cups home to Seville. 

The club play at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, a stadium that can hold up to 42,714 people. The stadium was named after one of the team’s former presidents that were in control of the club for nearly 20 years. 

4. Athletic Club Bilbao

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The 4th spot goes to one of the most interesting teams in the whole of Europe, Athletic Club Bilbao. Founded in 1898, the club is one of just three in the topflight that have never tasted relegation from it. 

Bilbao is most well known for their policy of bringing through young Basque Country talent, with them only signing players that the club deems ‘Basque’ in origin. This is a peculiar policy, but one that has given the team plenty of success over the years.

In total,  Bilbao has won the La Liga title eight times and the Copa Del Rey a staggering 23 times. Not bad for a team that can only sign players from a single region of Spain. 

The team plays its games at the 53,289-seater San Mamés stadium.

3. Atlético de Madrid

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As we reach the podium places, next up are the so-called ‘other’ team in Spanish Soccer, Atlético de Madrid or Atléti as they are known to their fans. The club came into existence in 1903 and plays at the newly built Civitas Metropolitano, a stadium that can hold nearly 70,000 supporters. 

In terms of League success, Atléti has won La Liga on eleven occasions (most recently in the 2020-21) season and has long been the main rivals to both Barcelona and Real Madrid. The club has also won the Copa del Rey ten times and the Spanish Super Cup twice. 

Atléti have also had a level of success in European Competition, with them winning the European Cup Winners Cup once and the UEFA Europa League three times. These triumphs have also seen them compete in and win the UEFA Super Cup the following seasons. 

2. FC Barcelona

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It really is an impossible decision to separate the two greatest teams in Spain, but there has to be a team in 2nd place, and it goes to FC Barcelona. The team, found in the fiercely independent Catalan region is considered a rebellious club by much of Spain, but has long been one of the nation’s best. 

As you likely know, Barcelona plays their home games at Camp Nou which can hold almost 100,000 fans. The clubs’ motto ‘Mes Que un club’ translates to ‘more than a club’ and it is clear to see why.

The Catalans have won the La Liga title 26 times as well as having 31 Copa del Rey trophies in their cabinet and 13 Spanish Super Cups. Alongside this domestic success, Barcelona has won the UEFA Champions League five times, with four European Cup Winners Cups to their name. 

The club is also famous for being the former home of Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest player to have stepped on a Soccer field.

1. Real Madrid CF 

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Whilst Barcelona is good, there could only ever be one team that could take the top spot and that is the great ‘Los Blancos’ of Real Madrid. The club is not just the greatest in Spain, but indeed the world and has an honors list that anyone else can only dream of. 

Real Madrid was founded in 1902 and plays its home matches at the iconic Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, the arena has a capacity of 81,044. The team is famous for its all-white kits that have become synonymous with the team’s legendary status. 

In the League, Real Madrid has taken 35 La Liga titles and is the current holder of the trophy having cantered to the title ahead of Barcelona. The team also has 19 Copa del Rey titles and 12 Spanish Super Cups.

Most famously of all though, Real Madrid has won the UEFA Champions League on 14 different occasions and is, therefore, the most successful European team ever.