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Plenty to play for: Europa League Scenarios

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Club Atletico de Madrid v Villarreal CF - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Just so everyone understands, there are three teams vying for three (BUT possibly two) places.

VILLARREAL 64

Athletic Club 63

Real Sociedad 63

Of these three, La Real have by far the easiest task: they are playing away to Celta, but a Celta without Hugo Mallo and Iago Aspas (both suspended) and a Celta that gave up on La Liga to concentrate on this year’s Europa League (and haven’t won a match since April). Villarreal own the tiebreak over La Real, but that won’t matter; Athletic Club also own the tiebreak over them, which is of more importance.

You’d have to predict a win and 66 points for La Real, wouldn’t you!

Athletic Club (Athletic Bilbao) have a daunting task: they play away to Atletico Madrid. True, the mattress-makers have nothing to play for, BUT this is the last match ever in the Vicente Calderon before they move to their new ground next season. Diego Godin, Felipe Luis and José Gimenez are all suspended, though. Iñaki Williams is a doubt for Los Leones.

Villarreal owns the tiebreak over the Bilbao side, so they need a win to pass us in the standings.

Villarreal are away to Valencia. Not only is it a derby with the usual bragging rights (the big city club hosting their country cousins, and so forth) but it’s the last match for caretaker coach Voro before ex-Villarreal man Marcelino takes over. Valencia are without Fabian Orellana and Ezequiel Garay, but Villarreal have a lot of players whose participation is in doubt including Bruno, Roberto Soriano, Manu Trigueros, Roberto Soldado and Victor Ruiz.

Fifth place in La Liga qualifies directly for the Europa League group stage.

If Alaves defeat Barca in the Copa final, they also move directly into the group stage, the #6 team goes into the third qualifying round of the EL, and team #7 misses out entirely.

If Barca win, then the #6 team go directly into the group stage, and #7 qualify for the third qualifying round. That round takes place July 27th and August 3rd, the playoff round following on August 17 and 24. That’s four matches early in the season to get to the group stage.

If Barca win, and both #5 and #6 get to the group stage, there is still a benefit to 5th rather than 6th, since the way the TV money is distributed in the EL (and for that matter in La Liga) league placing is taken into account.