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La Liga is back! It’s not only Spain’s top-league but one of the best for soccer in the world, with top players from around the globe—but Europe and South America especially— playing for its 20 teams. Here’s everything you need to know about La Liga and how to watch La Liga games online.
What is La Liga?
La Liga, which launched in 1929, is short for both its official sponsor name, La Liga Santander, and its official name, Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División.
La Liga’s scheduling and year-to-year makeup work similarly to England’s Premier League. Each team plays 38 matches a year—at home and away against each of the other 19 teams in the league—acquiring three points for a win and one point for a draw. The team with the most points is declared the league champion (with goal differential serving as a tiebreaker), and the three worst-performing teams are relegated to the second division (known this season as La Liga SmartBank). Conversely, three teams from La Liga SmartBank move up to replace them in La Liga for as long as they can finish 17th or better.
La Liga live stream: How to watch La Liga matches online
La Liga is the flagship league for beIN SPORTS. Each of the following services carries beIN, providing a one-week trial and therefore an easy way to watch La Liga matches for free.
1) Sling TV
- Sling TV pricing: $25-$40 per month (40% off first month)
- Sling TV devices: Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Xbox One, Google Chromecast, Oculus Go, Microsoft Edge, and iOS and Android devices
- Sling TV local channels: NBC, Fox (check your local availability here)
Sling TV provides two base channel package options, each priced at $25 per month. Sling Orange includes three ESPN channels, while Sling Blue includes sports channels like FS1 and FS2 (where many Bundesliga matches appear), NBCSN for Premier League action, NFL Network, and local channels. (Sling Blue customers in select markets get NBC, where some matches appear; see if yours has it here.) If you’re Team “Why Not Both,” Sling Orange + Blue combines the two for just $40 per month. To add beIN SPORTS and maximize your soccer-watching potential, you’ll want to add either Sports Extra: Sling Orange ($5 per month) or Sports Extra: Sling Blue ($10 per month). (The latter also includes NFL RedZone.)
Spanish-speaking viewers have quite a few options. For bilingual families, you might consider the Español: Best of Spanish TV package for either Sling Orange or Sling Blue for 24/7 specialty channel LaLiga TV and beIN SPORTS Connect: Channels 4-9, which features matches from La Liga, Ligue 1 and Copa del Rey, among others. Both packages cost $5 per month after your free trial. Sling TV Latino is another Spanish-language package for $10 per month, including NBC Universo, History en Español, and—of import to soccer fans—four beIN SPORTS channels. (And choosing Sling TV Latino + Sling Orange for $30 per month gives you access to ESPN Deportes.) For more information, check out our guide to Sling TV channels and our Sling TV review.
- Cost: $44.99 for the first month, $54.99 per month thereafter (after a 7-day free trial)
- FuboTV devices: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Android TV, iOS and Android devices
- FuboTV local channels: Fox, NBC, CBS (check local availability here)
FuboTV is a solid TV streaming service option, whether your tastes run to entertainment (AMC, Syfy, FX), news (MSNBC, CNN), or sports (NBA TV, NFL Network). If you’re a soccer fan, however, it will appear tailor-made for you, with FS1, FS2, and TUDN for Bundesliga soccer, 10 beIN SPORTS channels, and NBCSN for Premier League action all on tap. If you can’t watch a match live, FuboTV offers a three-day replay for each match and 30 hours of cloud DVR. (Check out the complete FuboTV channels list.)
- Cost: $44.99-$79.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- PlayStation Vue devices: PlayStation 3 and 4, Roku, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Kodi, iOS and Android devices
- PlayStation Vue local channels: NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS (enter your ZIP code here to check your availability)
PlayStation Vue is a fantastic option for soccer fans who already own a PlayStation console, but this streaming platform is available on a variety of devices. ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, and FS2, which will get you a lot of soccer action, are part of the Core package of channels that offer soccer and other sports programming, and the options increase at the Elite and Ultra levels. The Español package includes BeIN en Español and a direct route to La Liga matches.
Which La Liga teams should I know?
Let’s start with Barcelona and Real Madrid. In 14 of the last 15 seasons, either the Blaugrana or Los Blancos have won the title. Matches between those teams, in a series dubbed El Clásico, are among the most-viewed club matches worldwide, and both teams’ rosters are filled with star players that even casual fans will recognize from the World Cup. (One of the highest-profile players from the French team, Antoine Griezmann, moved to Barcelona over the summer, while Belgian star and former Chelsea player Eden Hazard was one of several high-profile players who moved to Real.)
If there’s a Big Three rather than a Big Two in La Liga, it includes Atlético Madrid, which won its 10th La Liga title in 2013-14 and clawed to the 2016 UEFA Champions League final—where it lost to Real Madrid, heartbreakingly, after taking the game to penalty kicks. Sevilla has recently dominated the UEFA Europa League, with three straight tournament wins between 2014 and 2016.
Athletic Bilbao, with a policy of only fielding players from Spain’s Basque region, has won eight La Liga titles, though not since 1984. Valencia, usually near the top of the table, has won six titles, last doing it in 2004. The cities of Barcelona and Sevilla each field a second team that doesn’t derive directly from the city name—in Barcelona, it’s Espanyol, which dates back to 1900; in Sevilla, it’s Real Betis, founded in 1907.
La Liga teams:
- Athletic Bilbao
- Atlético Madrid
- Celta Vigo
- Granada (promoted for 2019-20 season)
- Mallorca (promoted for 2019-20 season)
- Osasuna (promoted for 2019-20 season)
- Real Betis
- Real Madrid
- Real Sociedad
La Liga top scorers
Lionel Messi: Arguably the greatest player of this (or any) generation, the Argentinian playmaker grew up in Barcelona-renowned La Masia training camp, debuted with its pro team as a 16-year-old in 2003, and has spent his entire pro career with the Blaugrana—a rarity among the current class of soccer stars. Last year, he showed no signs of slowing, with an eye-popping 36 goals and 13 assists in just 38 league matches.
Luis Suarez: The Uruguayan striker (and Messi’s Barcelona teammate) began his pro career in 2005 and has been averaging more than 25 goals a season in all competitions since. He hit that mark again last season, with 21 goals in league play contributing to a trophy-gathering season.
Karim Benzema: The French striker had a serious dip in form in the 2017-18 season but has rebounded to help fill the goal void left by Cristiano Ronaldo, who departed for Juventus in the summer of 2018. His 21 goals were good, but maybe not good enough for Real Madrid, which brought in Luka Jovic from the Bundesliga in hopes of vaulting back to elite status.
Iago Aspas: Providing offensive firepower for Celta de Vigo, the Spanish national team player sojourned at Liverpool for the 2013-14 season and Sevilla for the 2014-15 season before returning to his literal boyhood club. (He started with their academy as an 8-year-old and trained there for a decade before moving into the first team.)
La Liga champions
For the last decade-plus, it’s been Barcelona or Real Madrid, and though Atletico Madrid did win the 2013-14 title, it’s mostly been the two giants in either first or second year after year. La Liga’s had nine different champions since its inception, with Real Madrid winning 33, Barcelona winning 26, Atlético Madrid winning 10, Athletic Bilbao winning eight, and Valencia winning six. The list is rounded out by Real Sociedad’s two titles, and Deportivo La Coruna, Sevilla, and Real Betis each claiming a victory.
La Liga champions:
- 2018-19: Barcelona
- 2017-18: Barcelona
- 2016-17: Real Madrid
- 2015-16: Barcelona
- 2014-15: Barcelona
- 2013-14: Atlético Madrid
- 2012-13: Barcelona
- 2011-12: Real Madrid
- 2010-11: Barcelona
- 2009-10: Barcelona
Here’s the complete list of champions going back to 1929.
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Phil West is a sports reporter and the author of two books on soccer, ‘The United States of Soccer,’ and ‘I Believe That We Will Win,’ both from The Overlook Press. His work has appeared most recently in MLSSoccer.com, Pro Soccer USA, Texas Highways, and Howler. Based in Austin, he is also a lecturer in the Writing Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.