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A guide to Spanish women football

Get ready for Villarreal Femenino’s top flight debut!

As Villarreal has arrived to the top flight, let’s see how Women football is structured in Spain

History

While women football in Spain was already a thing since the 1910s, due to machist attitudes of the day with the thinking that football was manly and thus women shouldn’t be part of it, it wasn’t until around 2015 that the game got more mainstream exposure with the national team playing the 2015 FIFA World Cup. The league started in 1988 as a single group, changed format in 1996 to four groups with a final four with the winners of each group, to change format once again in 2001 renaming it Superliga. In 2009, the RFEF changed format inviting to participate all men’s pro teams (Villarreal did not enter the league), which was controversial and lasted for two seasons. In 2011, with a new name, returned to the older format. In 2016, Iberdrola started sponsoring the league and broadcasting games on national TV became the norm, and in 2019 started the professionalization, being granted professional status in 2020. With the title of this season, Barcelona has become the most succesful club with 6 titles. Next is Athletic with 5. The only Valencian team to win the league is Levante who has done it four times, one as San Vicente de Valencia

Format

The current format, barring the 2020/21 season, is a 16 league season, round-robin playing once at home and once at road against each team for a total of 30 matches. The bottom two teams get relegated to Segunda. Due to the reworking of the Champions League, the three best teams gain access to it. For the 2020/21, due to the controversial decission of finishing the last season without relegations due to not playing all the matches, as the league was considered non-pro even though you could argue the teams were pro, the size of the league was of 18, thus playing 34 matches, and relegating the bottom four. Deportivo, Espanyol, EdF Logroño and Santa Teresa got relegated, with Alavés and Villarreal gaining promotion from Segunda

Another part of the league is the Copa de la Reina, which since 2018, can only be accessed by being one of the teams playing in the current season of Primera, so Villarreal will be facing two competitions this coming season.

The teams

This is the list of participants for the 2021/22 season

Alavés - newly promoted team who, like Villarreal will make their debut in the top flight.

Athletic Club - women’s side for Athletic. A top team in their best moments, being more of mid-table team right now.

Atlético Madrid - Top team during the late 2010s, when they won three titles back to back, still one of the better teamsi, trying to win another title.

FC Barcelona - The top dog in the yard. Won the treble last season, thus being the first Spanish team to win the Women’s Champions League, and right now the team to be beaten.

Betis - They arrived for the first time in Primera five years ago, and since then they are a fixture of the season. Mid-table to low-table.

Eibar - They returned to Primera last season, seems they are looking to be low-table.

Levante - Once a top team in the league, trying to return to the top spot. Top table team since three years ago when they restructured the team trying to return to the Champions League.

Madrid CFF - Not to be confused with Real Madrid, a mid-table team since their promotion, last season was their best with a the 7th finish.

Rayo Vallecano - Similar to Levante, once a top team, they became a mid-table and are now in that position.

Real Madrid - Their late arrival to the party was controversial. While the first season they count is this last one with their 2nd place finish, they were Tacón in the first season after Madrid purchased the club.

Real Sociedad - Their biggest win has been a Copa de la Reina two years ago. A mid-table team at its core, with the occasional season in the top 5.

Sevilla - Their history is quite curious, since their last promotion they have started to get better results, being a mid-table team now.

Sporting Huelva - A regular participant since 2006, they tend to finish around the low-table. As a trivia note, they have won a Copa de la Reina.

UD Granadilla Tenerife - A young club, being founded in 2013, that in their short history they have become one of the top table team. While never good enough to win the league, or enter the Champions, they tend to finish near the very top.

Valencia - They had their golden years in the mid to late 2010s (2013-2019) when they were a top table team, with their best finish being the 3rd one in 2016/17. Now they are returning to their common results of mid to low table.

Villarreal - They will be debuting this season in Primera, and we are waiting for a good season maintaining the top flight spot.