Football

This is football. Welcome to Spain!

Football, excitement, play, entertainment, La Liga, Barça, Madrid, Messi, Ronaldo, Champions League… You’ve got it all in Spain, where football is a passion all week, and all year long.Do you like football? You need Spain.


Map of Spanish football

Look for your destination in Spain and see where you can enjoy the best football in Europe. We help you prepare your day of football and make the most of your visit with the best things to see in the destination town.

La Liga

Would you like to go to a match in the world-famous Spanish football league? On the map you’ll find the La Liga teams and information on their cities.    




How much do you know about Spanish football?

  • #SpainQuiz - how much do you know about Spanish football?

    Are you a fan or a real football fanatic?

    Find out with this test and learn new facts so you can show off your knowledge of Spanish football to your friends.

    Be warned: in Spanish football, only the best stand out. The same is true in our #SpainQuiz.

Take the challenge



Football Dictionary

  • Gol
  • La Catedral
  • Cantada
  • Cantera
  • Chilena or tijereta
  • Chupón
  • El Clásico
  • Culés
  • Derbis
  • Poner el autobús
  • Tridente
  • Farolillo rojo
  • LFP
  • Fondo norte / fondo sur
  • Jugador número 12
  • Leones
  • Manolo el del bombo
  • Matagigantes
  • Merengues or vikingos
  • Mosaicos
  • La ola
  • Palomita
  • Pichichi
  • Pipas y el bocata
  • Tiquitaca/tiki-taka
  • Zamora
  • In Spain, “goal” is “gol” and is yelled as loud and long as possible: GOOOOOL!!
    A really good goal might be called a “Golazo” or “Chicharro”, and some even say “los goles son amores” - goals are love.

  • The Cathedral, a nickname for the home ground of Athletic Bilbao. Many people think the name was inspired by its grand scale and the long tradition of the team, but it’s actually because the stadium is named after a saint: “San Mamés”. The stadium is next to a small church dedicated to this saint, and the fans call it “the Cathedral” to distinguish it from the church.

  • A terrible mistake by a goalkeeper, usually meaning the other side scores.

  • The young players being trained by the clubs. It literally means “quarry”, where you dig to find valuable material.
    Also known as “fútbol base” (the base), “la masía” (the country house where FC Barcelona trains its youngsters) or “la factoría” (the factory).

  • A chilena (literally, Chile style) is a bicycle kick. A tijereta (scissor kick) is similar, but the player’s leg crosses over.

  • A player who hogs the ball and tries to score when it would probably have been better to pass.

  • The Classic: a Barcelona – Madrid match, when the two giants of Spanish football go head to head.

  • Literally, “butts” or “bums” - a nickname for FC Barcelona supporters. Apparently, in the original stadium fans would sit on top of a wall to watch the match, and the first impression for people passing by underneath was a row of bottoms (“culers” in Catalan). The name stuck and now Barça fans are “culés”.

  • Derbies - a derby is a match between two traditional rivals, usually from the same town or area.
    The best-known in Spain are Real Madrid vs Atlético de Madrid, Sevilla vs Real Betis, FC Barcelona vs Espanyol, Athletic Bilbao vs Real Sociedad, and Deportivo vs Celta de Vigo.

  • Parking the bus - when a team concentrates on defence, trying to avoid goals against them rather than scoring.
    The mass of defenders is compared to parking the team bus in front of the goal.

  • A trident is a set of three offensive players who work together to score with devastating effectiveness. Two recent “tridents” have popularised the term: “MSN” - Messi, Suárez, and Neymar; and “BBC” - Bale, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.

  • Red lantern - the team at the bottom of the league table, at risk of relegation.

  • The initials of La Liga: Liga de Fútbol Profesional, or Professional Football League.
    The full name of La Liga often changes according to the sponsor.

  • North end and south end - the stands behind the goals. Supporters in these stands often chant a greeting to each other: “Hola Fondo Norte!” “Hola Fondo Sur!”

  • The 12th man - the fans. Their support is regarded as important for the team’s victories, hence they are the “12th man” on the team. Fans in Spain are also called “hinchas” or “forofos”.

  • Lions - the players of Athletic de Bilbao. Many use the term to refer to their fighting spirit. However, it comes from the name of the stadium, San Mamés. Saint Mammes was said to have tamed lions. So now the players are the lions that serve San Mamés, the stadium.

  • An icon of Spanish football. “Manolo with the drum” is a fan who has been at practically every match of the Spanish national team for decades, accompanied by a bass drum (bombo).

  • Giant-killer, a small team which has beaten much larger and more prestigious rivals.

  • Nicknames for Real Madrid. Merengue (meringue) is for the white shirt. Vikingos (Vikings) is said to come from an article in the “Times” newspaper on the 1959-60 European Cup final, which said that Real Madrid had flattened the rest of Europe just like the Vikings once did. But some suggest it came from the many German and Danish players that joined the team in the 1970s.

  • Mosaics, designs created by fans in the stands holding up coloured card, at the start of important matches. They can be very sophisticated.

  • The wave, when successive parts of the public stand up to cheer and sit down again, creating a wave effect that rolls around the stadium. Spanish fans also celebrate entertaining play or good passing with yells of “olé”.

  • A little dove - a flying save by the goalkeeper.

  • The trophy awarded to the player scoring the most goals in La Liga each season. The name refers to a striker who played for Athletic de Bilbao over a century ago, Rafael Moreno Aranzadi, nicknamed “Pichichi”.

  • Sunflower seeds and a sandwich, traditional snacks to take to a match. Nibbling sunflower seeds is a good way to calm the nerves during play. And the sandwich gets eaten at half-time.

  • The Spanish version of the Brazilian classic “jogo bonito”. A style of play based on possession, short passing and creativity, seen in the Spanish national team at the height of their success, and typical of FC Barcelona.

  • The top goalkeeper of the season, with the lowest goals-to-games ratio. Named in honour of a legendary 1920s goalkeeper, Ricardo Zamora, who played for Espanyol, FC Barcelona, and Real Madrid.


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