Champions League, Europa League, and Europa Conference League: Breaking down who qualifies for what in La Liga

If there is something the Superleague coup showed the sport is that European soccer is changing, and every year, new rules to existing competitions keep getting added. Every now and again, even new competitions are added as well. 

The Intertoto came and went in the early 00s, the UEFA Cup got rebranded and re-formatted as Europa League, and as of next year, there will be a new tournament: The UEFA Europa Conference League. Excited? Sure you are.

This brand new competition will sit right below the Europa League, and it will be a new opportunity for those straggler teams who don’t make the top spots in their domestic leagues, but still have a primal need to play 50 matches per season. Yay.

Something that became clear to me through the introduction of this new competition was that I had no idea who qualified for what between the Champions League, Europa League, and Conference League. I took it upon myself to look at the UEFA rules in Spain, and I come to you with just that: the comprehensive list of who qualifies for what in La Liga, taking into account all scenarios. 

So, grab some popcorn, play that shitty Europa League Champions-League-wannabe anthem on your phone, and read on.

  • UEFA Champions League: As it has been the case for the past couple of years, the top four teams in La Liga will qualify, with no need for any pre-qualifying rounds, into the group stages of the top European competition. This without a doubt will be Atletico, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Sevilla, although not necessarily in that order.
  • UEFA Europa League: Fifth place will automatically play in this competition. As of right now, that is Real Sociedad. The winner of the Copa del Rey also plays this tournament, but since the winner of the Spanish Cup was Barcelona, and Barcelona will play in the Champions League, the honor goes to 6th place. As of this article, Betis is number six in La Liga, so that would go to Pellegrini’s men.
  • UEFA Conference League: The third tier of European soccer will invite seventh place in La Liga, with a qualifying round being played on August 19th and 26th to get into a group stage that will surely include very few top teams in the continent. However, because of the craziness of the English Premier League, this competition could see a Tottenham or Liverpool, for instance.

But wait–there’s more! Here comes Villarreal with the combo breaker. If Villarreal lose in the Europa League final, everything stays the same. IF Villarreal happens to win the tournament, and:

  • They finish 5th or 6th: They qualify to the Champions League as Europa League winners, bringing the number of Spanish teams in the top competition to five, and the other team in the Top 6 would qualify to the Europa League, and 7th, to the Conference League. So basically, Spain would gain a CL spot, and lose an EL spot.
  • They finish 7th: Villarreal qualifies to the Champions League, 5th and 6th qualify to the Europa League, and there would be no Spanish teams in the Conference League.
  • They finish 8th (not likely but possible): Champions League for the Yellow Submarine, 5th and 6th to the Europa League, and 7th to the Conference League.

And that’s basically it! Who wants to go stick their head in the freezer?

If there is something the Superleague attempt showed, is that European soccer is changing, and every year, new rules to existing competitions keep getting added. What’s more, new competitions are being added as well. The Intertoto came and went in the early 00s, the UEFA Cup got rebranded and reformated as Europa League, and as of next year, there will be a new tournament: The UEFA Europa Conference League.

This brand new competition will sit right below the Europa League, and it will be a new opportunity for those straggler teams who don’t make the top spots in their domestic leagues, but still have a primal need to play 50 matches per season. Yay.

Something that became clear to me through this season was that I had no idea who qualified for what between Champions League, Europa League, and Conference League. I took it upon myself to look at the UEFA rules in Spain, and I come to you with just that: The comprehensive list of who qualifies for what in La Liga. So, grab some popcorn, play that shitty Europa League Champions-League-wannabe anthem on your phone, and read on.

  • UEFA Champions League: As it has been the case for the past couple of years, the top four teams in La Liga will qualify, with no need for any pre-qualifying rounds, into the group stages of the top European competition. This without a doubt will be Atletico, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Sevilla.
  • UEFA Europa League: 5th spot will automatically play in this competition. As of right now, that is Real Sociedad. The winner of the Copa del Rey also plays the second-tier tournament, but since the winner of the Spanish cup was Barcelona, and Barcelona will play in the Champions League, the honor goes to 6th place. As of this article, Betis is number six in La Liga, so that would go to Pellegrini’s men.
  • UEFA Conference League: The third level of European competition will include the 7th place in La Liga, with a qualifying round being played on August 19th and 26th to get into a group stage that will surely include very few top teams in the continent. However, because of the crazyness of the English Premier League, this competition could see a Tottenham or Liverpool, for instance.

But wait–there’s more! Here comes Villarreal with the combo breaker. If Villarreal lose in the Europea League final, eveything stays the same. IF Villarreal happens to win the tournament, and:

  • They finish 5th or 6th: They qualify to the Champions League as Europa League winners, bringing the number of Spanish teams in the top competition to five, and the other team in the Top 6 would wualify to the Europa League, and 7th, to the Conference League. So basically, Spain would gain a CL spot, and lose an EL spot.
  • They finish 7th: Villarreal qualifies to the Champions League, 5th and 6th qualify to the Europa League, and there would be no Spanish teams in the Conference League.
  • They finish 8th (not likely but possible): Champions League for the Yellow Submarine, 5th and 6th to the Europa League, and 7th to the Conference League.

And that’s basically it! Who wants to go stick their head in the freezer?

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