LaLiga Santander is crowned as the world’s strongest league of the decade

Spanish teams enjoyed the most success on the continent between 2011 and 2020 and this has been reflected by IFFHS’s latest ranking. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are named the two best teams of the decade as well 

Between 2011 and 2020, Spanish clubs dominated European club football. Over these 10 years, the Champions League was won by a LaLiga Santander side on six occasions, with Real Madrid claiming four and FC Barcelona two. Meanwhile, the Europa League was also won by a team from Spain six times, as Sevilla FC lifted it on four occasions and Atlético Madrid twice. All this means that eight of the past 10 UEFA Super Cups featured at least one Spanish side, with seven victories for the LaLiga teams.  

Given all the UEFA confetti that has fallen on the shoulders of LaLiga players over this past decade, it’s little surprise that Spain’s top division has been crowned as the world’s strongest national league for the 2011 to 2020 decade by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS). In nine of these years, LaLiga Santander topped the annual IFFHS awards for the world’s strongest national league. 

The IFFHS have also ranked clubs for their success and consistency over the past decade and FC Barcelona have finished top of their ranking, retaining their title as the best team of the decade after also claiming this honour from the IFFHS for the 2001 to 2010 decade. Just behind FC Barcelona are Real Madrid, while Atlético Madrid are fifth in the ranking of clubs over the past decade, only behind third-ranked Bayern Munich and fourth-ranked PSG. And ahead of sixth-ranked Juventus and seventh-ranked Chelsea. This means that Spain has three teams in the top seven of the ranking for the past decade, while no other nation has more than one representative in that gap.  

Considering the star players that have performed to the highest level in Spain over the past years, it makes sense that the country’s clubs have performed so consistently well. The Ballon d’Or award for each calendar year’s best footballer wasn’t held in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but in the other nine years of the past decade it always went to a player based in Spain. It went to FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi four times, to Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo four times and to Real Madrid’s Luka Modrić once. On four occasions (2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016), the entire podium was Spain-based.  

LaLiga maintains its position in the Brand Finance 2021 ranking, among the most valuable brands in Spain 

Even off the pitch, LaLiga had a very strong decade. Clubs have significantly improved their finances and reduced debt thanks to the economic control regulations brought in after Javier Tebas assumed the presidency in 2013, while audience has grown in markets across the planet following the launch of LaLiga’s global network.  

A lot of work has gone into improving the visibility of LaLiga’s brand and this has been reflected in LaLiga’s improved standing in the ranking produced by consultancy firm Brand Finance, with LaLiga rated as the eighth strongest and the 36th most valuable brand in all of Spain for 2021, even while the sports industry has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.  

At the beginning of this new decade, LaLiga clubs are in a good position to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic stronger than ever. LaLiga teams acted very responsibly in the first two transfer markets following the emergence of COVID-19, reducing their spending enough to achieve a net gain of €38m at the same time as their competitors in Europe’s other major leagues ran aggregate deficits.  

In the long term, this means that LaLiga clubs can remain in good health. Even in the short term, all seven LaLiga Santander clubs that entered UEFA competition in 2020/21 progressed through their groups as Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Sevilla FC reached the Champions League knockouts and as Granada CF, Real Sociedad and Villarreal CF made it to the Europa League knockouts. No other association had seven of their clubs make it through their groups, just like no other association celebrated six Champions League and six Europa League titles between 2011 and 2020.  

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