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The biggest victory and other surprising stats in Liga history

The 89 years of the Spanish league has provided huge scorelines, a player with the same number of Pichichi trophies as Ronaldo and Messi combined and a first foreign player surprise.

- Follow the coverage match Leverkusen vs Atletico

Telmo Zarra, exjugador del Athletic

The Spanish top flight first started in 1928-29, with Barcelona lifting the first Liga title in the final day after knocking Real Madrid off top spot after the capital side had dominated for most of the season. The early years of the tournament were contested by Athletic, Arenas Club de Guecho, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, Barcelona, Real Unión, Espanyol, Atlético, Club Deportivo Europa and Racing.

Only nine clubs have won the Liga title

From a total of 61 teams that have participated in the Spanish top flight over the past 89 years only three have been ever-presents: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic. In total, only nine clubs have etched their names on the winners’ trophy in those nine decades. Real Madrid have the most titles with 32, followed by Barcelona with 24 and Atlético Madrid with 10. The others are Athletic (8), Valencia (6), Real Sociedad (2) and with one title apiece in their history, Betis, Sevilla and Deportivo la Coruña.

Deportivo captain Fran lifting the club's only Liga title in 1999-2000.
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Deportivo captain Fran lifting the club's only Liga title in 1999-2000.

The first side to sign a foreign player was… Athletic Bilbao

Athletic are famed for their unique sporting philosophy of only fielding players who have been schooled in the club’s Lezema academy or who came through the ranks at other clubs in Euskal Herria, which is made up of the provinces of Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa, Araba, Nafarroa, Lapurdi, Zuberoa and Nafarroa Behera, as well as players who were born in those areas. But that has not always been the case. In the early years of LaLiga Athletic had several English players in their ranks and therefore became the first club to compete in the Spanish top flight with a foreign player in their team.

12-1: the heaviest defeat. 6-6, the top-scoring draw.

Bata finds the net against Barcelona in a 12-1 win in 1931.
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Bata finds the net against Barcelona in a 12-1 win in 1931.

The heaviest defeat ever suffered in the top flight was dished out by Athletic, who thrashed Barcelona 12-1 in 1931. The Basques were coached by Englishman Fred Pentland and the Catalans by his compatriot James Bellamy. Athletic also hold another Liga record and it came in the same game when Bata scored seven goals, which remains a record for a single game in Spain’s top flight and was later matched by Laszlo Kubala in 1951-52 for Barcelona in a 9-0 trouncing of Sporting Gijón. The highest scoring draw between two Liga sides also dates to the same period and was played out between Atletico and Athletic in 1949-50. That match ended 6-6.

Pichichis and Zamoras

The player with the most Pichichi trophies for the league’s top scorer is Telmo Zarra. The mythical Athletic striker won the award six times and in three consecutive seasons between 1944-45 and 1946-47. The Athletic legend has the same number of Pichichi trophies as Leo Messi (3) and Cristiano Ronaldo (3) combined. Alfredo di Stéfano, Quini and Hugo Sánchez all won five Pichichis while Ferenc Puskas top-scored four times. The club with the most Pichichi trophies is Real Madrid, with 29.

In terms of keeping the ball out, Barcelona keepers Antoni Ramallets and Víctor Valdés have the most Zamora trophies for the least goals conceded with five each. Behind them are Juan Acuña and Santiago Cañizares, with four. The club with the most Zamora trophies in history is Barcelona, with 20.

Víctor Valdés.
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Víctor Valdés.

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