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Europa League 2017-18: Looking Ahead

I mean, we are going to accept we’re not catching Sevilla, right?

Liverpool v Sevilla - UEFA Europa League Final Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

The race for the Europa League placings in Spain is very tight. How many places, are there, exactly? Well, as with everything involving European competitions, it’s complicated.

We do know the 5th placed and 6th placed teams automatically qualify for the EL. There is a big difference, though: the fifth-placed team automatically qualifies for the group stage (which means you know for sure you’ll get €2.6 million and six matches to earn more and qualify for the round of 32); the sixth-placed team has to play two playoff rounds to get to the group stage.

Where it gets complicated is with the third Europa League place Spain has. It nominally goes to the domestic cup winner, who automatically go into the group stage. Barcelona play Alaves in the final, so if Alaves wins, they will go into the EL group stage. If Barcelona win, then, since they will play in the Champions League, their Europa League place is vacated.

In that case, the fifth AND sixth placed teams would qualify for the Europa League Group Stage; the seventh-placed team in La Liga would also qualify for the EL, but would start off in the third preliminary round so would need to win that and the following round to get to the group stage.

Should Celta win the Europa League, they would qualify for the CL Group Stage, as would the top four finishers in La Liga. (If Barca, Real Madrid or Atleti win the CL, this will have no real impact, as they will all finish in the top four anyhow).

So the fifth-and sixth placed teams in the league will qualify for Europe; the seventh will make it if Barca win the Copa del Rey, while Celta could give Spain an eighth team in Europe if they win the Europa League. Claro.