How can the Copa del Rey final affect the European qualifying places?
The outcome of Saturday’s Copa del Rey final between Real Madrid and Osasuna could affect the European qualifying places in LaLiga.
La Cartuja in Seville plays host to the 2023 Copa del Rey final between Real Madrid and Osasuna on Saturday. On paper, Ancelotti’s team are understandably the favourites to lifty the trophy - for their recent latest European exploits, for knocking out Barcelona in the semi-finals and for their wealth of experience on big occasions. But anything can happen in a Cup final. Osasuna, who return to contest the final 18 years after their one and only appearance in 2005, are going to give it their best shot and have the entire city of Pamplona behind them. Arrasate’s team have established themselves as one of the great sensations of Spanish football this season and, after beating Copa veterans Athletic Club in the semi-finals, the club from Navarra will be seek to turn a dream into reality.
There will be a new Copa champion this weekend and the outcome will have repercussions for the clubs looking to qualify for Europe next season. The Copa del Rey winners will automatically book their place in the group stage of next season’s Europa League, but due to the two finalists and their current positions in LaLiga, several variations are possible.
LaLiga table after 33 games
*** Champions League
** Europa League
*UEFA Conference League
With fives games to go, Real Madrid are third in the standings on 68 points and have practically guaranteed their place in next season’s Champions League with the top four teams qualifying directly. If they lift the Copa in Sevilla on Saturday, Madrid would still go into the Champions League with the teams who finish fifth and sixth in the standings qualifying for the Europa League. Team that ends in seventh place will enter the UEFA Conference League.
LaLiga’s European representatives if Osasuna win the Copa
The situation isn’t quite as straightforward if Osasuna wins the Copa del Rey and would depend on where they finish in the league standings. The Rojillos are currently 10th in the table on 44 points - eight points behind Betis in 6th; so mathematically, they could still finish in the top 6.
If they clinch the Copa but end the League season end outside of the European places, Osasuna would directly qualify for the Europa League group stage, without having to play the preliminary round qualifiers. They would be joined by the team who finishes fifth in LaLiga. The team in sixth would head into the Conference League but with the need to play a preliminary round like the rest of the clubs from other European leagues.
Another possibility is that Osasuna win their first Copa del Rey - and finish in the top 6 in LaLiga. That complicates things because as things stand, Osasuna have no chance of finishing in the top four, ie. qualifying for the Champions League. They can only finish fifth or sixth, the respective qualifying positions for the Europa League and Conference League.
So, if Arrasate’s boys finish fifth, they will advance to the Europa League as Cup champions, but at the same time leave their qualifying slot to the team below them in sixth, meaning Spain would have two representatives in the Europa League next season while the team who finishes seventh, will be destined for the Conference League.
The same situation would occur if Osasuna finish LaLiga in sixth place - they would head into the Europa League with the team who finishes fifth with the Conference League prize going to the team in seventh.
Best of all, just for making it as far as the Copa del Rey final, both Real Madrid and Osasuna have automatically guaranteed their place in next year’s Spanish Super Cup where they will be joined by the champions and runners-up in LaLiga. It also gives them the privilege of being able to enter next year’s edition of the Copa del Rey at the Round of 16 stage.