Football (or soccer if you prefer) enjoys immense popularity in Spain, with discussions about the game abounding at dinner tables, bars and during breaks at work. There are so many clubs that it is not unusual for members of the same family or circle of friends to support different teams.
The top division of Spanish football is widely known as La Liga and is one of the leading leagues on the planet. Indeed, the country's clubs have a rich history both domestically and in European and intercontinental championships. Similarly, Spain's national team, nicknamed La Roja in reference to their red jerseys, are among the world's best and have enjoyed plenty of success. Spanish women's football is also booming at both club and international level, so media coverage of the sport extends virtually throughout the year.
If you are visiting Spain and are a football fan, do not pass up the opportunity to catch a match live. The holy grail for followers of the beautiful game is El Clásico, the always eagerly contested showdown between the country's two most celebrated teams and biggest rivals, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. There are at least two instalments of this rivalry every year, one at Barça's Camp Nou stadium and one at Madrid's Bernabéu, and the dates are set well in advance. The tickets can be like gold dust, however, and if you don't manage to get your hands on one, watching the Clásico at a local bar is a fantastic substitute.
Madrid and Barcelona are far from the only big footballing cities in Spain. For instance, Seville is famously football-mad and the derby between neighbours Sevilla and Real Betis is among the most atmospheric matches in world soccer. Valencia is also home to two clubs, Valencia CF and Levante UD, the former of whom have won multiple league titles and are based at the Estadio de Mestalla, a 55,000-capacity stadium that is well worth a visit.
Whichever team they support and whatever competition is their favourite, soccer fans can't go wrong with a trip to Spain.