Nowadays, Spain’s La Liga is very much a two-horse race. Aside from a lone Atletico win in 2014, the title has been claimed by either Real Madrid or Barcelona in twelve out of the past thirteen seasons. It’s hard to imagine that not so long ago it was one of the most competitive divisions in Europe.
Rafa Benitez’s Valencia won it twice in three years in 2004 and Deportivo La Coruna defied the odds at the turn of the century. But the biggest surprise of all almost came in the 2002-2003 season.
Real had just signed Ronaldo (the real Ronaldo) for a world record fee to add to their already star-studded group of Galacticos featuring the likes of Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Raul. By contrast, Real Sociedad consisted of players primarily from the Basque region and handful of journeymen signed for next-to-nothing.
Their best player was arguably a 19-year old Xabi Alonso. This is the story of how he, along with a group of misfits lead by a little-known Frenchman, almost toppled Ronaldo and his expensively assembled world-beaters in the hunt for the league title.