La Liga is the Spanish football league system's top professional men's division. The Liga Nacional de Futbol Profesional oversees the competition, which features 20 teams. At the end of each season, the three lowest-placed teams are relegated to the Segunda División, where they are replaced by the top two teams and a play-off winner. Since its inception, La Liga has hosted a total of 62 teams. There have been nine champions, with Real Madrid having won the title a record 34 times and Barcelona having won the title 26 times.
After an enthralling campaign that saw one of the most exciting title battles in recent memory, the 2020-21 La Liga season has come to an end. After a 2-1 victory over Real Valladolid on Matchday 38, Atletico Madrid won the Spanish League, defeating favourites Barcelona and Real Madrid. Los Angeles came within a whisker of defeating their city rivals, putting up an incredible fight until the very last game. Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid finished two points short of Los Rojiblancos' 86 points. Lionel Messi's Barcelona were back in the La Liga race after a midseason recovery led by the captain. However, their fight for La Liga was short-lived, as they were beaten 2-1 by Celta Vigo and knocked out of the title race.
Here we take a look at the top five longest unbeaten runs in La Liga history.
5. Real Madrid - 29 games (1996-97)
Real Madrid were unbeaten in the first 24 games of the 1996-97 season and carried four wins and a draw from the previous season to make it 29 games unbeaten. In their 30th La Liga game, they were beaten by Rayo Vallecano and their unbeaten streak ended. The winning streak included 20 wins and nine draws as Fabio Capello’s Real Madrid lifted the La Liga title, beating Bobby Robson’s Barcelona.
4. Real Madrid - 31 games (1988-89)
This is still the longest unbeaten run in La Liga by Real Madrid. Los Blancos came close to breaking this record when they went 29 games unbeaten in 1996-97, but they fell short by just two games as they lost against Rayo Vallecano. It was won by "La Quinta del Buitre," a legendary team that won five consecutive league titles between 1986 and 1990. Madrid, coached by Leo Beenhakker, finished the 1987-88 season with three unbeaten games and dominated the start of the following season, remaining undefeated for 28 games before falling to Celta Vigo. In the years before Johan Cruyff's Dream squad developed and took off, they went undefeated with 21 wins and 10 draws, contributing to another league triumph, their fourth in a straight, as they dominated domestically.
3. Barcelona - 31 games (2010-11)
In the second game of the 2010-11 season, Pep Guardiola's Barcelona were defeated 2-0 by Hercules at Camp Nou. Rather than causing a crisis, that result served as the impetus for a third consecutive league title. After all, that defeat was followed by a 31-game winning streak, which includes the memorable 5-0 win at the Camp Now over Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid. Real Sociedad eventually interrupted the streak, but that didn't stop Barca from finishing the season with 96 points and another league victory, despite the fact that Madrid was only four points behind at the end. Before suffering a small setback at Anoeta, Guardiola's team had won 27 games and drawn four. The loss at Anoeta started a curse as the Catalans always sued to struggle there and finally broke the curse in 2018.
2. Real Sociedad - 38 games (1979-80)
The fact that La Real didn't end their unbeaten streak with a league title is perhaps the worst disgrace of their long unbeaten run. Real Sociedad began their unbeaten streak in the 1978/79 season with six games. They kept their winning streak going for another 32 games the next season. The Spanish League had 18 clubs at the time. Unfortunately, given La Real's high number of draws, their loss in the 33rd game allowed Real Madrid to pass them in the standings and win the league. They won 22 of the 38 games they played, drew 16 of the others, and were eventually defeated.
1. Barcelona - 42 games (2017-18)
The Catalans lost to Betis 4-3 in the last league game of the season, ending their unbeaten run of 42 games. They were also unbeaten for the whole season. From the 2016/17 season forward, the streak included 34 wins and eight ties. The unbeaten streak began with Luis Enrique as the coach, who led the side to 14 victories and three draws in the league until Ernesto Valverde took over. Since then, the man known as 'Txingurri' led the team to 35 victories, 12 draws, and only three defeats in La Liga. In the end, though, the defeat had little influence on who would win La Liga. Barcelona was already 12 points clear of Atletico Madrid, who were in second place when they suffered their first setback of the season.
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