Preseason has barely begun, but the LaLiga opener is just around the corner. In four weeks time, Sevilla FC will kick off another league season with a match against newly-promoted Rayo Vallecano at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, on Sunday 15th August at 22:15 CEST. Two days before that, on Friday 13th, Valencia and Getafe will face each other at Mestalla for the first match of the weekend. After more than 90 years of competition, this will in fact be the first time that the LaLiga season gets underway before 15th August. This will allow the season to commence at the same time as the Premier League and the Bundesliga, which traditionally always started early. Ligue 1 and the Primeira Liga will start the weekend before, while Serie A will start last, one week after LaLiga.
A chronological review of the league seasons show that they all tend to be very similar, with the exception of the inaugural season. The 1928/29 campaign, in reality, took place between February and June 1929. The following season saw the competition take place either side of Christmas, starting in November and finishing in either March or April. In the 1940s, the opener was moved to the end of September, gradually reaching mid-September by the end of the decade, when the league had grown to include 16 teams.
The first league season was the only season to take place in one calendar year, 1929
That format remained basically unchanged for the best part of 20 years, with the next key change coming in the 1971/72 season, when the First Division was expanded to 18 sides. This fact, together with the fact that the national teams gradually began to gain prominence, meant that the league began at the beginning of September and ended in May. The 1980s saw the first-ever league fixture in August, with Matchday 1 of the 1985/86 season taking place on Saturday 31st August. That was not the case for Sevilla FC, however, as their defeat at the Vicente Calderón was played on 1st September.
Between 1971 and 2012, the competition normally started the first weekend of September
The following season, 1986/87, was also a landmark. The two-phase format meant that there were 44 matches, and the competition ended in the third week in June. That idea was replaced ahead of the following season, and 20 teams competed in the 1987/88 season. With the start of the season set for that first weekend in September, the end of the season varied depending on whether there was a World Cup or European Championships. If there was, the season would finish in mid-May, but the season could be played well into June whenever there wasn't. The 1995/96 and 1996/97 seasons saw 22 sides play in LaLiga, with frequent midweek matches in the first of those seasons, due to EURO 96 in England.
Into the 21st century now, and that format remained unchanged until the 2012/13 season. The start of the season was brought forward to the third weekend in August, and was the last time that the season ended in June, regardless of whether there was an international tournament. The final change came ahead of that 2019/20 season, the longest in history. It saw the earliest start to a season, 16th August, and the latest, 19th July, excluding the first season back in 1929. Of course, there was a lockdown during that time. Last season was also altered due to COVID-19, with the opener delayed until 12th September, a start date more suited to the 1950s.