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La Liga Betting Guide

What Is La Liga?

La Liga Logo 500x334La Liga is the top-level league competition in the Spanish soccer pyramid. The league is host to the greatest rivalry in soccer between Real Madrid and Barcelona, the greatest player of all time – Lionel Messi, and plenty of other exciting teams that have made their mark throughout history.

The league is known for its emphasis on technicality and finesse and less on the physical aspect of the game. While La Liga matches are often fast-paced and end-to-end stuff, a lot of teams employ a “playing out of the back,” possession-based soccer that puts an emphasis on patience and breaking through enemy lines at the right time. When both teams do this, it makes for some high-goal-scoring contests that are uniquely characteristic to the league itself.

Brief History

La Liga was founded in 1929 under the name Primera División. Back then, the league only consisted of 10 teams: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, Real Union, Arenas Club de Getxo, Athletic Bilbao, Europa, Atletico Madrid, Espanyol, and Racing de Santander. Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid are the only teams never to have been relegated to the second division.

The very first La Liga was won by FC Barcelona. Real Madrid followed with 2 successive titles in 1931/32 and 1932/33, but it was Athletic Bilbao that initially dominated the league with its 4 titles and 3 runner-up medals throughout the ‘30s.

To date, the most decorated club in La Liga is Real Madrid, with 33 league titles, followed by Barcelona with 25. The all-time top scorer is Lionel Messi, while Andoni Zubizarreta holds the record for most appearances.

La Liga is host to two additional domestic competitions: the Copa del Rey – which culminates near the end of the season in May – and the Spanish Super Cup, a traditional friendly-like match played between the winner of La Liga and Copa del Rey prior to the start of each season.

League Format

La Liga contains 20 teams that play each other two times (home and away) throughout the course of its 9-month season. Each win grants 3 points, a draw 1 point, and losses grant no points.

At the end of the league, the top 6 teams earn qualification to their respective European competitions (Champions League and UEFA Cup), whereas the bottom 3 are relegated to the Segunda División, making way for the top 2 teams from the second league and the winner of the Segunda División play-off.

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What Types of Bets Are Available?

Soccer is the most popular sport on the globe, which is why it gets the most attention at bookmakers. Most matches have more than 500 betting markets to choose from, meaning the choices of how you lay your stakes are virtually endless, letting you exploit your soccer knowledge to the maximum. We will focus on the most popular types of bets and what they represent.

Match Result (1X2)

This type of bet is pretty straightforward. You are betting either on the home or away teams to win or the match to end in a draw. Draw bets almost always feature higher odds, thus higher returns.

Handicap Betting

Handicap betting means assigning or taking “invisible” goals to teams prior to betting on the winner. As an example, if Barcelona is playing against Real Madrid, and you lay a stake on Barcelona with a handicap of -1.5, the game virtually begins with a score of -1.5 to 0. In this scenario, if Barcelona was to win by a margin of 2 goals, your bet would come out valid.

Assigning a +1.5 handicap works the same way, but in the other direction. These bets can be replicated via different betting markets, but handicap betting is the most popular type of bet for this purpose. You can also bet handicaps with a factor of +/- 2.5, 3.5, and so on.


Over/Under is a type of bet where you’re betting on the number of goals in a game. You can bet Over/Under on 0.5 goals, 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, 4.5, and so forth – each with its corresponding odds depending on the matchup in question.

BTTS (Both Teams to Score)

Both Teams to Score is a highly useful bet to the trained bettor – as it frequently comes with great odds that nearly double your stake. When you’re hunting for value bets, going with BTTS is often the way to go.

However, this bet requires at least some knowledge of the teams in question, but the more you know, the better you’ll fare. BTTS can be exploited in a multitude of situations: when two strong sides meet or when a strong side plays an underdog that’s been known to score against the big sides.

Take for example Real Madrid. During the 2017/2018 season, they kept only 8 clean sheets over the course of the entire season! That’s 8 out of 38. But whenever you have a look at the bookmakers, you will almost always find generous odds that will double your stake (or more) on this type of bet. That’s because they are an extremely strong club.

Real Madrid would often win their games 3:1, 4:1, and even 6:1, yet they rarely managed to keep their net unshaken, regardless of their opposition. That’s great value right there, and it’s just one example of how this great bet can be exploited.

Notable Players

Johan Cruyff

Johan CruyffOne of the most influential figures of the sport, Hendrik Johannes Cruyff, better known as Johan Cruyff, is a soccer legend at both club and international level. Cruyff made his impact on the game as a player for Ajax and Barcelona, and later as a manager and close advisor to both clubs.

As a player, Johan Cruyff won the Ballon d’Or on three occasions (1971, 1973, 1974). He led the Netherlands to the 1974 World Cup final, where he won the Golden Ball.

Cruyff’s career started out by playing for Dutch team Ajax, where he won 8 league titles and 3 Champions League trophies. Later, Cruyff transferred to FC Barcelona for a record-breaking €6,000,000 fee. In his first season at Barca, he won La Liga and was named European Player of the Year. Over the course of his Ajax and Barcelona careers, Cruyff scored 238 goals across 383 appearances.

Following his retirement as a player in 1984, he swiftly took up management at his home club, Ajax. It was there that he started laying the foundations of “Total Football” – the most influential playing philosophy in the history of the sport. In many ways, Total Football laid the groundwork for the modern game. Cruyff was a close friend and idol to many of the current and former top managers in the likes of Pep Guardiola, Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Frank Rijkaard.

After 3 years in Ajax, Cruyff took his trade to Barcelona, where he single-handedly reinvigorated the club. Barcelona, who was in dire straits at the time, went on to win 4 European trophies and 4 consecutive La Liga titles under his management.

However, Cruyff’s legacy is much more than goals and trophies. With his philosophy of Total Football, he established the principles in which all Barcelona players are trained to this day. His free-flowing, fluid, attacking style of play is embedded at the heart of the team and its youth academy. Many pupils of Cruyff went on to build upon that philosophy to great success, including Pep Guardiola, who won 15 trophies as Barcelona’s manager in the span of 4 years.

Lionel Messi

Lionel MessiThere’s little that remains to be said for the living legend that is Lionel Messi. Already considered by majority of football fans and experts as the undisputed best player of all time, Messi has been justifying that title ever since he stepped foot on the pitch at 16 years of age.

Messi is the complete footballer. He is a speed demon, a Picasso-like visionary with the ball, and a ruthless goal scorer who seems to possess a top-down view of the pitch while he’s playing the game.

Still in his early 30s, we are fortunate to still live in a time where Messi still plays. With his club, he was a pivotal part of winning 4 UEFA Champions Leagues, 6 Spanish Super Cups, 5 Copa del Reys, 3 FIFA World Clubs, and 8 La Liga titles. His trophies and accolades go on and on, as he’s broken more records than there are bones in the human body.

He is Barcelona’s all-time top scorer, and in the past, he’s averaged more than 1 goal contribution per game, whether in the form of a goal or an assist. And that is precisely what makes Messi stand out so much. While his skill is unrivaled, it is his consistency that’s even more astonishing. You will rarely find Messi having a bad day. Even if he doesn’t score or assist, his contribution on the pitch will be felt in one way or the other.

Despite never winning the World Cup, but reaching the final once, many Argentinian fans place Messi above cult legend Diego Maradona.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo, alongside Messi, has been gracing modern football for over a decade now. You can’t mention one without bringing up the other. Ever since Cristiano’s arrival to Madrid for a record-breaking transfer fee of €94,000,000, he has managed a similar statistical output to that of Messi, forging the greatest player rivalry of our time, based on the greatest rivalry in soccer – Barcelona versus Real Madrid.

Many will argue whether one is better than the other, but regardless of your opinion, Ronaldo’s impact on La Liga has been immense and undeniable. So much so that many Madridistas feel he has surpassed club legend Alfredo Di Stefano.

With his team, Ronaldo won 2 Spanish Super Cups, 2 Copa del Reys, 2 La Liga titles, 4 FIFA World Club Cups, 3 European Super Cups, and 5 UEFA Champions Leagues. He is also the Champions League’s all-time top scorer, with 120+ goals to his name. The Portuguese legend has averaged more than a goal per game for Madrid, having scored 450 times in 438 appearances. In October of 2015, he became Real Madrid’s leading all-time top scorer with 324 goals, meaning it will be a long time before we see someone surpass his unreal goalscoring output for Real Madrid.

Alfredo Di Stefano

Alfredo Di Stefano Alfredo Di Stefano was one of the most influential players in Real Madrid’s history, and many consider him one of the best players to ever play the game. Interestingly enough, Di Stefano was initially supposed to join fierce rivals Barcelona, but a series of events led to his transfer to Real Madrid, where he changed the course of soccer history and made an eternal stamp on the game.

Dubbed as the Blonde Arrow or “La Saeta Rubia”, Di Stefano shook the net 308 times in only 396 appearances. He led his team to 5 consecutive Champions League finals, scoring at least once in each – an unprecedented feat to this day. Di Stefano also won 8 La Liga titles and a single Copa Del Rey.

Di Stefano’s tenure at Madrid dawned the club’s dominance at both domestic and European level. He is the only player in the sport to have been awarded the Super Ballon d’Or, in 1989.

Top Clubs

Real Madrid

Real Madrid Logo 212x212

Real Madrid are the most decorated, and one of the most widely supported soccer clubs in the world. Their trophy cabinet holds 13 UEFA Champions League trophies (no team comes close), 6 FIFA Club World Cups, 4 European Super Cups, 2 UEFA Cups, 33 La Liga trophies, 19 Copas Del Rey and 10 Spanish Super Cups – among other less significant trophies.

The team is also known as the Royal Club, boasting a crown on their logo that was given to the club by King Alfonso XIII in 1920. The King also gave Madrid the name prefix “Real”, which stands for Royal in Spanish.

Real Madrid have been consistently atop the world of soccer throughout history, meaning their trophies are spread across the old and modern age of soccer. In the ‘50s, Madrid won five consecutive European Cups (now Champions League), a feat that’s yet to be repeated to this day. They won another European Cup in the 1965/66 season, and later followed a trophy drought until 1997-98, a period in which Real Madrid re-established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. They went on to win the Champions League in the 1999/00 and 2001/02 seasons, and were named The Best Club Of The Century by FIFA.

In modern times, Real Madrid were known for their “Galactico” policy by then-new and current president Florentino Perez, meaning brining one star player each year. The team was shining with stars in the likes of David Beckham, Roberto Carlos, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo Nazario, and many more. However, success was far and between during the Galactico era, and the strength of rivals Barcelona only made matters worse.

In the 2013/14 season, under Carlo Ancelotti’s leadership, Real Madrid won the UEFA Champions League and fulfilled their dream of “La Décima” – their tenth European trophy.

However, Ancelotti was sacked for poor performance in the league and replaced by Rafa Benitez, who was also sacked mid-season and replaced by former player and club legend Zinedine Zidane. The very same season, Zidane went on to lead his team to a Champions League trophy. In unbelievable fashion, Zidane repeated the same feat two times over and won the Champions League 3 times in succession, meaning Real Madrid had won 4 out of the last 5 European competitions.

Real Madrid deservedly sits atop the soccer world to this day like they once did in the 50’s, and it will take a while before someone is able to repeat their feats.

FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona Logo

FC Barcelona are the second most decorated club in Spain and Real Madrid’s fiercest rivals. Barca are first and foremost a Spanish club, but they are also a Catalan club from Catalunya, a region in Spain with the controversial intent of segregating from Spain as an independent country. I say this not to enter into a politics debate, but to present just one of the reasons for the fierceness of the rivalry between Barcelona (the Catalans) and Real Madrid (The capital city club, the Royal Spanish Club).

Throughout their history, Barcelona have won 25 La Liga titles, 30 Copas Del Rey, 13 Spanish Super Cups and 5 UEFA Champions Leagues. The club has had several periods of dominance, most notably in the 90’s if we exclude modern times, but it is in recent past that Barcelona recorded their absolute best period.

Following their dominant years in the 90’s, Barcelona were in dire straits at the beginning of the 2000s, often struggling just to qualify to the Champions League, while their fiercest rivals Madrid were adding more accolades to their cabinet. In the 2003/04 season, with the addition of manager Frank Rijkaard and Brazilian virtuoso Ronaldinho, Barcelona began a momentum shift that turned them into the most feared side on the planet.

Following a 15 year old European drought, Barca finally regained the Champions League trophy in 2005/06. Following the end of Rijkaard’s successful tenure at the club, out came Josep “Pep” Guardiola, whose only previous experience was managing the Barcelona B side. Pep evolved Barcelona’s style of play to previously-unimaginable heights with his “tiki-taka” playing philosophy, an upgrade on the Total Football foundation laid by Johan Cruyff. Guardiola’s time at the club coincided with the rise of Lionel Messi, who Pep shaped into the best player on the planet. Pep and Messi, alongside midfield virtuosos Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets – were the skeleton of what many call the strongest soccer team of all time.

Pep won the UEFA Champions League, La Liga and Copa Del Rey in his debut season as coach, completing the treble. The very next season, Barcelona won the Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup – to complete their first ever sixtuple! – a feat that’s yet to be repeated in modern soccer. Overall, under Guardiola, Barcelona won 15 trophies in just 4 years. His successor, Luis Enrique, managed to win the Champions League once again in the 2014/15 season with the help of what many call the deadliest attacking trio of all time – MSN (Messi, Neymar, Suarez).


Valencia Logo In recent years, Toronto has emerged as one of the league’s top teams. Losing in penalties in

In spite of Atletico Madrid’s recent boom, Valencia are still historically the 3rd strongest club in Spain. Their trophy cabinet pales in comparison to that of Real Madrid and Barcelona, but it is still impressive in its own right. Valencia can boast about 6 La Liga trophies, seven Copas Del Rey, three UEFA Cups (two in the old format) and two UEFA Super Cups.

Valencia’s best period occurred around the year 2000, where they reached two UEFA Champions League finals in succession. Unfortunately, they lost both – against Real Madrid and Bayern Munchen.

Valencia are yet to rise to their strength of the 2000s, and due to the financial power of rivals Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, it is unlikely to happen anytime soon – at least not on a sustained level.

Atletico Madrid

Atletico de Madrid Logo

Modern history sees La Liga as a two-horse race between Real Madrid and Barcelona, with the occasional interjection by Valencia. Atletico Madrid were finally able to break that rivalry with some impressive performances on domestic and European ground from the 2010s and onward.

In 2010, under the leadership of Quique Sanchez Flores, Atletico Madrid managed to win the UEFA Cup and break a 38-year-old European trophy drought. This marked a turn of fortunes for a club that finished 11th place in La Liga the very same season. In December of 2011, Flores was fired and Atletico Madrid were taken over by what is now their most successful manager in history – Diego “El Cholo” Simeone.

Simeone transformed his Atletico side into a strong, cohesive, counter-attacking unit. The very season he took over, Cholo led his team to their 2nd UEFA Cup trophy. The next season, the club won the UEFA Super Cup and Copa Del Rey. The 2013/14 season was historic for Atletico, as they kept getting stronger and stronger, managing to win La Liga for the first time since 1996. This also broke Madrid-Barca’s 10 year foothold over La Liga. A week after winning La Liga, Atletico faced fierce rivals Real Madrid in the Champions League final – their first since 1974. They lost the match in extra time. In the 2015/16 season, Atletico faced Madrid again once again in the CL final, this time losing out via penalties.

Despite not managing to win a CL final, it’s undisputed that Simeone lifted this team to new heights and made them one of the top teams in Europe. As the moment of writing, Atletico are one of the favorites for the La Liga trophy and a strong contender in the Champions League. Even after Simeone leaves, his legacy will remain as he leaves behind a strong club worthy to be named among the elite.

Why Bet on La Liga?

La Liga is one of the most exciting leagues in the world for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it is a highly technical league, rather than a physical one, that enforces gorgeous passing football. Many teams, regardless of stature, have no fear of playing out from the back and opening up with an attacking style – regardless of opponent. This leads to many open and exciting matches.

Moreover, La Liga holds one of the greatest sports rivalries in the world – El Clasico – the eternal duel with a hundred-year-old tradition between Barcelona and Real Madrid. Every time these sides meet, the world stops for 90 minutes in eager anticipation of a clash between two of the best clubs in the world.

You can see why all this would make La Liga an entertaining affair to you as a bettor. Not only do you have a shot at earning money by utilizing your knowledge of the various teams and players, but you will be highly entertained by doing so.

As always, we recommend betting only through the best sportsbooks that will give you a smooth and safe betting experience.