Spanish paper AS reports that a Real Madrid vs. Barcelona Copa del Rey final will open the door to Europa League qualification for la Liga’s seventh place finisher.
Los Blancos take a 1-0 lead into the Bernabéu on Wednesday evening as they host Sevilla in the second leg of the domestic cup semi-final. José Mourinho’s men are heavily favoured to emerge victorious in the clash.
Barcelona travel to Almería on the same night with a 5-0 advantage secured in the first leg. A comeback by los Almerienses seems well beyond the realm of possibility, so a Real Madrid vs. Barcelona final looks more than likely.
With Valencia drawing away at Racing in Cantabria yesterday, fourth place holders los Che are now 11 points clear from Atleti in the league table.
Consider that, as Radio COPE points out, ever since the rule allowing la Liga’s fourth place finisher to qualify for the Champions League playoff went into effect, no team has overcome an 11 point margin to take over the fourth place spot.
Following back-to-back losses in the domestic league competition, the Champions League now appears to be out of our reach. Our new objective is starting to come into focus: qualification into Europa League.
But we’ve already had a setback in achieving that new target after losing to Athletic, with Los Leones shoving us back five points from their sixth place position.
Even clamping down on the seventh spot in la Liga, which we currently hold, will be a challenge. Sevilla are level with us in points (30) ahead of the Week 22 fixtures. At our heels are Real Sociedad (28), Getafe (27) and Mallorca (27).
It will be a tough season-long battle with all of these clubs to situate ourselves in the league’s expanded European zone, but our prospects would instantly brighten with a mid-week Merengue triumph over Sevilla.
Obviously we don’t expect Rojiblancos to actually cheer for Real Madrid to win on Wednesday, but if they do finish off the Andalusians, let’s just take consolation in the fact that we have a better chance of UEFA tournament play next year if Sevilla are not the ones to make it through to the Spanish cup final.
We’ll have a chance to make up for any lingering guilt in the final, when we’ll be perfectly free to side with los Culés.