Every year, fans around the globe prepare for a new season of La Liga. The top division in Spain is known for being fairly top-heavy, but there are competitive matches throughout the year that make for an exciting schedule.
Some might not know how many games are played in a La Liga season with weeks and weeks of competition. Knowing a bit more about scheduling and what goes into it, fans can pay closer attention.
How Many Games Are Played In a La Liga Season? Each team plays a total of 38 games in La Liga. There are 20 teams in the league, and each team plays the other 19 once at home, and once on the road. These matches are stretched out over 38 weeks, for a total of 380 matches.
How The La Liga Schedule Is Put Together
Before a season, there is a committee that is involved in putting the La Liga schedule together. It can be a logistical nightmare at times, but the goal is to make everything as fair as possible for all teams involved. That means giving teams roughly the same amount of rest, the same type of playing conditions, and only allowing each team to play each other twice.
The league is very mindful of all the other tournaments that are going on throughout the soccer season. That means that if a team is in several different competitions, they need to have their schedule spaced out so that they are able to keep everyone fresh. La Liga does a great job of balancing out the schedule so everyone gets a fair shake.
The only really big issue that affects teams in different ways comes to international duty. Some of the top teams in La Liga have a lot more players playing for their national team, so they are hit with bigger problems when a match is on the schedule. This is a chance for those teams to play some players that might not normally get the opportunity to play, but it’s a bit of an issue overall to stay competitive.
Schedulers try to do as great of a job as possible, so all matches for teams near each other are not happening simultaneously. This ensures that every team has the most opportunity to get a solid crowd during matches.
There’s no preferential treatment for certain teams, in order to make things fair. Even though it might make more sense to put the biggest matches on prime time days to capitalize on exposure, that does not occur.
How Is The La Liga Winner Determined?
Teams get three points for a win, one point for a draw, and zero points for loss. On the table, teams are ranked by the total amount of points they have. The team with the most points is crowned champion, but teams are playing for much more than that.
All four of the top teams on the table get a spot in the UEFA Champions League the following year. There’s also an opportunity for two or three teams to make the Europa League.
This comes down to how everything else shakes out and any other unique circumstances that allow that third team to get into the main draw. Entering the second qualifying round means that teams would have to win in order to get into the actual Europa League format.
Throughout the history of La Liga, Real Madrid has won the most championships for 34. Barcelona has 26 victories to their name, more than doubling any other team. It’s a bit lopsided domestically in Spain, as only nine clubs have ever won a championship. To make matters even worse for parity, only six teams have a championship in the last 40 years.
If there is a need for a tiebreaker between two teams, the first one involves head-to-head goal difference. After that, it goes off of total goal difference, followed by total goals scored.
How Does Regulation Work?
At the end of each season, the bottom three teams are relegated to the second tier of soccer in Spain, known as the Segunda Division. This follows the same format as other top leagues in Europe, and helps to keep everyone as competitive as possible. It injects new blood into the top league every time, which is nice to get more competitive teams battling it out at the top.
There is a ton of money in the line for teams battling for those final spots and regulations. During certain years, this can actually get more competitive than the top of the table. If all of the spots are already clinched going into the final match, all eyes could be put on what happens with regulation.
What teams replace those three being regulated? The top two teams from the Segunda Division automatically receive a promotion. The third team is determined by a playoff involving teams finishing 3rd-6th.
Will La Liga Ever Expand/Change Their Schedule?
At this point in time, La Liga has not exactly been the most competitive domestic league from top to bottom. A few dominant teams are at the top, and everyone else is battling to stay in the top division and not drop to the next level.
It would take a little bit more competitiveness for everything to move to a bigger league. If a bigger La Liga were to happen, scheduling would also have to be changed. Playing more than 38 matches in a season could be a bit daunting, especially when considering all the other tournaments that take place.
It will ultimately come down to how much money is available for a league like La Liga. They will definitely weigh the options and see what makes the most sense for them. They did bump up to 22 teams from 1995-1997, but they have been back to 20 ever since.
Also Read: How Many Games In a Premier League Season?