Only five Spanish clubs have won the La Liga title more than twice: Valencia CF, Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, FC Barcelona and way ahead of the rest, Real Madrid.

5. Valencia – 6

Rafa Benitez celebrating the championship in 2004

Rafa Benitez celebrating the championship in 2004

Valencia did well during the WWII years, winning league titles in 1942, 1944 and then against in 1947. They had to wait 24 years until their next league title, in 1971, under manager Alfredo Di Stefano, who managed the team in two separate tenures. They won the championship that year despite tying with Barcelona (43 points each) and having inferior goal difference. In Spain, the head-to-head record matters more.

It took Valencia 31 more years of waiting to celebrate a championship again. The Rafa Benitez years yielded two titles (2002, 2004) in the league and one in the UEFA Cup. That came at the tail of the highly successful but title-less Hector Cuper era, as Valencia reached the Champions League final twice, losing to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

4. Athletic Bilbao – 8

A picture from before the last match of the 83/84 season, when Athletic won the Liga title beating Real Sociedad in San Mames (2-1)

A picture from before the last match of the 83/84 season, when Athletic won the Liga title beating Real Sociedad in San Mames (2-1)

The La Liga began in 1928. Bilbao, one of the founding members (five of the 10 teams were Basque), won four league titles by 1936, three of them under English managers Fred Pentland and William Garbutt. In 1943 Juan Urkizu led them to a fifth league championship, followed by a 13-year wait, winning it again under Ferdinand Daučík in 1956.

For a short period in the 1980’s Basque clubs were the thing. Real Sociedad won the championships in 1981 and 1982. Bilbao added titles 7 & 8 in 1983 and 1984.

3. Atletico Madrid – 10

The goal that won the Colchoneros the title in 2014

The goal that won the Colchoneros the title in 2014

Always a step behind their “bigger sister”, Atletico kept winning titles in braces. First in 1940 and 1941, followed by 1950 and 1951. The 60’s and 70’s were good for the team, winning four league titles from 1966 to 1977, including making it to the European Cup final (losing to Bayern Munich). Their 1996 league title came in between two Real Madrid championships and came before the team went through a very rough patch that included relegation. In 2014, the upheaval and transformation under Diego Simeone was completed. Not just Europa League winners or Copa Del Rey holders, but Spanish champions, in an era with Real Madrid and Barcelona drifting further and further away thanks to their financial power.

2. Barcelona – 24

Celebrating their 2012-2013 championship

Celebrating their 2012-2013 championship

After winning the league title in 1929, Barcelona had to wait 16 years until their next one. Championships came in 1945, 1948, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1959 and 1960. Then came a 14-year drought. And then came Johan Cruyff. Only one league title as a player with the team, but his influence on the club is still felt. After the 1974 championship it took Barcelona 11 more years to win another won (1985) before Real Madrid set out on a five-year domination spree. Then everything changed. After only two league titles in 30 years, Barcelona became the leading club in Spanish football, with 4 consecutive titles (1991-1994) under Cruyff, two under Van Gaal (1998, 1999), two more under Rijkaard (2005, 2006) and then the Guardiola-Messi era, continuing with other managers, winning championships in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. Luis Enrique won back to back titles in 2015 and 2016.

1. Real Madrid – 32

Celebrating their 2011-2012 championship

Celebrating their 2011-2012 championship

Despite winning just one league title in the last 7 years, it’s going to take a very long time to catch up with Real Madrid, the most successful Spanish club and the only team with 10 Champions League/European Cup trophies. So many great teams and names: Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano, Hugo Sanchez and Emilio Butrageno, Raul and Fernando Hierro, Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane, and also Cristiano Ronaldo, although his has been a less successful time in terms of titles, but football is different now, and marketability means almost as much as actual trophies.

Championships: 1932-1933, 1954-1955, 1957-1958, 1961-1965, 1967-1969, 1972, 1975-1976, 1978-1980, 1986-1990, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2007-2008, 2012.

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