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Who Has Won the Most Spanish La Liga Titles?

On 14th May 2023 an all-too-easy 4-2 win at city rivals Espanyol meant that Barcelona secured yet another La Liga title. It had long looked as though Barca would claim the 2022/23 crown but a brace from Robert Lewandowski set them on the way to a 4-0 lead after 53 minutes and although they were pegged back they would not be denied.

It has been a strange season for the Catalans, as they were knocked out of the Champions League at the Group Stage and then fell at the first hurdle of the Europa League. In contrast, Real Madrid have been poor domestically, trailing Barca by 14 points with just four games to go, but have made yet another Champions League semi final (at the time of writing they are 1-1 with City after the first leg in Spain).

Most football fans would assume that these two rivals, divided by politics, geography and culture, are the most successful sides in Spain … but are they? Is it one of these two giants that have won the most La Liga titles? If so, which? And if not, then who? And either way, which other Spanish sides have won multiple La Ligas? Questions over… time for some answers.

Chart That Shows the Spanish League Title Winning Teams Between 1929 and 2023

Perhaps surprisingly, just nine teams have ever won the Spanish top flight. To put that into perspective, 24 different clubs have won the English equivalent. Of the nine Spanish champions, Real Betis, Sevilla and Deportivo La Coruna have only tasted glory on one occasion each. This leaves us with the six clubs below who have all lifted the La Liga trophy twice or more.

6) Real Sociedad – 2 Liga Titles

Founded First Title Last Title
1909 1980/81 9181/82

Real Sociedad are a Basque side based in the glorious gourmet city of San Sebastian. Former players include Dalian Atkinson, John Aldridge and Martin Odegaard, as well as Man City’s director of football, Txiki Begiristain. They last won the Spanish title in 1982, having won their first the season before. They were also runner-up in 1979/80 during what was very much their golden era, although they have also finished second on two other occasions (1988 and 2003).

5) Valencia – 6 Liga Titles

Founded First Title Last Title
1919 1941/42 2003/04

The fifth most successful side in terms of La Liga titles is Valencia and it is quite a jump from Sociedad’s two titles to their six. Founded in 1919 they claimed their first championship in 1941/42. The 1940s were a great period for them too, as they also claimed glory in 1944 and 1947. They added a fourth title in 1971 and then faced a similar wait for their fifth.

That didn’t come until 2001/02, under Rafa Benitez, but it did come in the middle of possibly the greatest spell in their history. They won the title again in 2003/04, winning the UEFA Cup the same season and the UEFA Super Cup in 2004. However, for Valencia it was a case of so near and yet so far as prior to lifting that silverware they were runners-up in the Champions League in consecutive seasons. In 2000 Real Madrid beat them 3-0 but 12 months later it was the agony of a penalty shootout defeat to Bayern Munich. Valencia have also been runners-up in the league on six occasions, most recently in 1995/96.

4) Athletic Bilbao – 8 Liga Titles

Founded First Title Last Title
1894 1929/30 1983/84

Athletic Bilbao have eight league titles to their name but the most recent of those was way back in 1984. They had won the title the season before that too, whilst their first two Liga victories were also consecutive in 1930 and 1931. They had a fantastic side in the 1930s, also taking glory in 1934 and 1936 before adding another championship to their collection in 1943. Their sixth title was collected in 1956 whilst they have finished second in La Liga on seven occasions.

Based in the Basque city of Bilbao, their big derby is with fellow Basque outfit Sociedad. Their success is all the more incredible given the fact that they only ever field Basque players. The so-called cantera policy relies on their own definition of Basque (players can be born elsewhere if they were brought through the Basque football system) and makes Bilbao unique on the world stage. As well as their eight titles, they are the only founding members of the Spanish top flight, aside from Real and Barca, to have never been relegated.

3) Atletico Madrid – 11 Liga Titles

Founded First Title Last Title
1903 1939/40 2020/21

Atletico Madrid will probably always be in the shadow of their neighbours across the city but their 11 Liga titles make them the third-most successful side in Spain. In addition they have finished second 10 times and have enjoyed considerable European success too. They won the title in:

  • 2021
  • 2014
  • 1996
  • 1977
  • 1973
  • 1970
  • 1966
  • 1951
  • 1950
  • 1941
  • 1940

Atleti were founded in 1903 and did not win their first title for almost 40 years. Since then they have taken glory at fairly regular intervals. In recent years they have done incredibly well to consistently vie with Real and Barca at the top of La Liga despite having a budget that is far smaller. Indeed, since 2012/13 they have not finished outside the top three, getting the better of one, or both, of their illustrious rivals on four occasions.

2) Barcelona – 27 Liga Titles

Founded First Title Last Title
1899 1929 2022/23

Barca may have won the title in 2022/23 but overall they are second when it comes to the number of Spanish titles they have won. As well as claiming the top-tier championship 27 times, they have been runner-up 27 times as well, meaning they have shown incredible consistency. The club is an institution and dates back to 1899 when they were founded by a mixed group of English, Swiss, German and local footballers. They are truly one of the greats of world football and were the first champions of Spain back in 1929.

They had to wait a long time for the next success, in 1945, but then the league titles flowed. They finished top of the Spanish pile in 1948, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1959 and 1960. However, a period of great Catalan despair followed during which they won La Liga just once in 25 years (1974). They then had to wait another decade to claim the title in 1985 but an era of real dominance was just around the corner.

From 1991 they won the title four years running, adding a further brace of championships at the end of the decade. The 21st century would be just as good, Barca adding 10 titles between 2005 and 2019, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta forming the basis of one of the greatest teams of all time.

1) Real Madrid – 35 Liga Titles

Founded First Title Last Title
1902 1931/32 2021/22

Despite Barca’s latest triumph and all the best efforts of the amazing Messi-inspired team of the 21st century, it is Real Madrid who have won more La Liga titles than any other side. During the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s Los Blancos were racking up titles for fun. They first lifted La Liga in 1932 and defended their title 12 months on. It was not plain sailing though and their next championship did not arrive until 1954.

The floodgates then well and truly opened though, with Madrid’s side, which won the first five European Cups, equally dominant on the domestic stage. They won 18 titles between 1954 and 1980 inclusive, with a further seven coming between 1986 and 1997. Eight titles this century puts them well out in front overall and Barca have a huge task to catch up with Real Madrid. Number one in Europe, top dogs in Spain: Real truly are a winning machine.