A love of football is often passed down from generation to generation and, in some cases, sons even follow their fathers into football stardom.
In Spain it is no different with some the genes being passed down the generations. Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso have starred for Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively – but did you know their fathers were stars before them?
Johan Cruyff is one of the biggest names to have graced both Spanish and world football, and even though son Jordi had his work cut out to surpass his father’s feats, he also enjoyed his time in the limelight.
Here’s a look at five of the best father-son duos in La Liga history.
JOHAN AND JORDI CRUYFF
As one of the most important figures in Barcelona’s history, Johan Cruyff brought glory to the Camp Nou both as a player and as a coach, while helping install the philosophy that stills powers the Catalan club today.
He won one La Liga title as a player, in 1973/74, before lifting the trophy four times as Barca coach and also leading the Blaugrana to their first ever European Cup triumph in 1992.
The Dutch legend loved his adopted hometown of Barcelona so much that he gave his son a Catalan name. Jordi went on to follow in his father’s footsteps by also playing for Barca and was even given his debut by his old man.
Cruyff Jr also represented RC Celta, Alaves and Espanyol during his time in Spain and actually ended up making more La Liga appearances over the course of his career than his iconic father. He also played for Manchester United for four years and won the 1996/97 Premier League title with the Red Devils.
MIGUEL AND XABI ALONSO
Two of the most successful Basque players of all time are also father and son. Miguel Alonso, better known as ‘Periko,’ won league titles at Real Sociedad and at Barcelona in the 1980s, before moving into coaching.
He enjoyed his best managerial spell at Eibar between 1995 and 1998, before taking charge of his beloved Sociedad on an interim basis in 2000/01.
His son, however, eclipsed even his father’s illustrious achievements. Xabi came through the ranks at Sociedad, spending a year out on loan at local rivals Eibar in the process – a move which was arranged by Periko, who had strong contacts at both clubs.
Xabi will go down as one of Spanish football’s all-time greats. A World Cup winner with Spain in 2010, the cultured midfielder won the La Liga title with Real Madrid in 2012 and also picked up medals in England and Germany in a highly-decorated career with Liverpool and Bayern Munich.
He lifted three Bundesliga titles as well as the DFB Pokal with the Bavarians and hoisted the FA Cup with the Merseysiders, as well as famously being part of the team that won the 2005 Champions League.
CARLOS AND SERGIO BUSQUETS
While Busquets Sr and Busquets Jr may have played in very different positions, they both possessed that ability to play the ball with their feet that is so valued at Barcelona. Between them they’ve won nine La Liga titles, accounting for over a third of the club’s historic league title count.
Goalkeeper Carlos stepped into the Barca goal following the departure of the iconic Andoni Zubizarreta and was first-choice under Johan Cryuff between 1994 and 1996, winning two league titles in the process. But as with the Alonsos, his son has gone on to eclipse the achievements of his father.
Sergio will go down in Barca history as one of the club’s finest players. Given his first-team debut by Pep Guardiola in 2008, the midfielder has gone on to rack up seven La Liga medals, six Copa del Reys and three Champions League titles, and has been an integral part of Spain’s international success since 2010.
MIGUEL AND PEPE REINA
Another family story involving a Barca goalkeeper, but this time the son also went on to play between the posts. Miguel Reina moved from his hometown club Cordoba to the Camp Nou in 1966, where he stayed for seven seasons before making the move to the capital with Atletico Madrid.
The Andalusian won the ‘Zamora,’ given to the goalkeeper who concedes the fewest goals in a La Liga season, on two occasions and earned a handful of caps for Spain.
His son Pepe also represented Spain and was part of La Roja’s three-in-a-row success between 2008 and 2012. Unluckily for him, he also played during the era of Iker Casillas.
At club level, the current AC Milan shot-stopper started his career at Barca, before making over 100 La Liga appearances for Villarreal and later enjoying adventures in England, Germany and Italy – with Liverpool, Napoli and even a short stint at Bayern Munich.
MAZINHO, THIAGO AND RAFINHA
Brazilian great Mazinho fathered two future La Liga players. Thiago and Rafinha Alcantara were both born before their father made his move from his native Brazil to Spain, first joining Valencia and later moving to Celta Vigo after two seasons.
Both sons spent much of their childhood in Spain and both ended up at the Barcelona academy. Stylish midfielder Thiago, the elder of the two, made 68 top-flight appearances for Barca before a 2013 transfer to Bayern Munich.
Rafinha, meanwhile, is still on the books at the Camp Nou and has made 85 appearances in La Liga, and would surely have made many more had he not had such bad luck with injuries.
These are just five cases of father-and-son duos to have played in La Liga. There’s also Real Madrid icon Michel and current Malaga player Adrian Gonzalez, who between them have made the most La Liga appearances of all father-and-son duos, followed closely by Manuel and Manolo Sanchis (both Real Madrid).
Current stars Denis Cheryshev, Saul Niguez, Mikel Merino, Marcos Llorente, Kenan Kodro, Borja Baston, Loren Moron and Lucas and Theo Hernandez are also following in their fathers’ footsteps by playing in La Liga.
Barcelona will seek revenge over Real Betis on Sunday night as the teams meet for the first time since the Seville-based side gained a remarkable 4-3 victory at the Camp Nou in November.
After progressing to the Champions League quarter-finals with Wednesday’s victory over Lyon, Barca will now attempt to head into the international break on a high – but they face a tough task in what should be a very watchable encounter against a Betis team whose qualities are well-known.
We take a look at the game with three key pre-match talking points.
Rotation for Valverde?
A big topic in the next few weeks will be the extent to which Barca boss Ernesto Valverde should rotate his squad to keep his key players fresh for the Champions League quarter-final showdown with Manchester United.
On the one hand, Valverde will be under pressure to ensure that key men such as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Arthur and Jordi Alba are not worn out by the time they face the Red Devils, and his team’s seven-point lead over Atlético Madrid at the top of La Liga gives him some margin for error even if those stars cannot be adequately replaced.
However, Valverde is also highly conscious that defeat against a dangerous team like Betis, if coupled with a victory for Atlético over Athletic Bilbao, could leave Barca dangerously exposed to a serious challenge from Diego Simeone’s men ahead of their potential title decider at the Camp Nou on Saturday 6 April, just before the first leg against United.
An added complication this weekend is that the game comes just before an international break which will see his South American stars head away for physically demanding trips – although it helps that Argentina and Brazil will play their upcoming friendlies in Europe rather than across the Atlantic. Will Valverde wrap up his key men in cotton wool or ask them to deliver the goods once more? Recent evidence suggests the latter.
Setien on thin ice?
Betis boss Quique Setien earned widespread commendation after his team gained their highly impressive victory at the Camp Nou earlier this season, even prompting serious speculation that he was being eyed up as a potential eventual successor to Valverde.
However, there have been plenty of bumps in the road since then for the passing purist, whose team suffered a dual blow in recent weeks with rapid eliminations from two cup competitions as they lost to Rennes in the Europa League and Valencia in the Copa del Rey.
Those exits, and Setien’s tactical inflexibility, caused a great deal of frustration among Betis fans, many of whom jeered their boss loudly and chanted for him to be fired during the team’s last home outing, a 2-1 loss against Getafe.
Setien survived that show of dissent and his team responded well by earning a deserved 1-0 win at struggling Celta Vigo last weekend, but the fate of managers is often determined by performances in front of their own fans and another heavy home defeat this weekend could be tough for Setien to survive. One thing, though, is for sure: he will not sacrifice his principles, so this should be an extremely watchable encounter between two teams intent on weaving passing patterns.
Old boys to trouble Barca?
The visitors will be confronted by two of their own, with Betis marshalled at the back by former Barca defender Marc Bartra while dangerous forward Cristian Tello – who also progressed through the Catalan club’s youth system – will be hoping for a starting slot on the wing.
Bartra has enjoyed an excellent season with Betis, suggesting that he could yet fulfil the potential he showed during his younger days at the Camp Nou. The cultured centre back made his senior debut with Barca at the age of 19 and ended up playing more than 100 games for the club, but he never established himself as a regular starter and ended up joining Borussia Dortmund in 2016, before returning to Spain with Betis two years later.
On the wing, Tello was another highly regarded youth prospect who enjoyed some promising highlights during his early days at the Camp Nou, scoring 20 goals in 86 games, but he struggled to find consistency and eventually being allowed to leave.
The talent of both players cannot be doubted and they would love to serve their former club a reminder of their talents on Sunday night, and the same applies to another Betis player who is attempting to rebuild his career in a similar fashion: striker Jese Rodriguez, who looked a star in the making when he broke into Real Madrid’s senior team a few years ago but then badly lost his way after a series of injuries.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde says his side cannot afford to repeat the mistakes they made against Real Betis when they head to Benito Villamarin Stadium on Sunday.
Betis became the only team to beat Barca at the Nou Camp so far this season when they won 4-3 in November.
Valverde insists there can be no surprises this time around.
He said in a press conference: “We know what type of team Betis are, what they make us do and also what they stop us from doing.
“In the first game we played earlier in the season, we suffered a lot, the only game we have lost at home.
“It is a vital game for us, a difficult away trip against a team we know are always motivated when they play us.
“Three points are going to be very, very important. We know just what type of a team they are, we know what they will demand against us.
“I am sure Betis will play a similar game to last time, they play with a lot of strength, they will try and take the initiative.”
Betis’ stunning triumph last November ended a 14-match winless sequence in the Spanish top-flight against Barcelona, stretching back to March 2008.
Head coach Quique Setien is certain they can claim another upset.
He said in quotes on Betis’ official website: “We are firmly convinced that we can give another surprise in this game.
“Barcelona are almost infallible but the reality is that they are not completely, we saw that (when Betis played them at the Nou Camp) and in other games where they have not won.
“They have very good footballers but we are sure of being able to make a good game and complicate their way of playing.”