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The La Liga 2022/23 season began on 12 August 2022 and will conclude on 4 June 2023.
Each team in the division will play 38 games, with three points available for a win and one point for a tie. The four teams with the most points will qualify for next season’s edition of the Champions League.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are, unsurprisingly, the favorites to finish in the top four, so much so that the best online sportsbooks are not currently offering odds on them doing so. You can read more about the leading contenders below.
The odds for the La Liga 2022/23 top four are provided by the FanDuel sportsbook.
Atletico Madrid are the favourites to finish in the top four alongside Real Madrid and Barcelona, the two contenders to win the La Liga title. Diego Simeone’s side have not been overly consistent so far this term, but they have the third-strongest squad in the division.
Real Sociedad are going strong under Imanol Alguacil. They have competed in European competitions in recent years and are now looking to secure Champions League soccer by finishing in the top four.
Villarreal and Real Betis are also expected to be in contention. The Yellow Submarine changed manager this season, with Quique Setien replacing Unai Emery, while Betis are coached by the veteran Manuel Pellegrini.
Athletic Bilbao will need a strong second half of the season to finish in the top four, while Osasuna, Rayo Vallecano and Real Mallorca are all outsiders.
The top four teams in La Liga automatically qualify for the group stage of the following season’s Champions League.
Participation in Europe’s foremost competition is taken for granted by Barcelona and Real Madrid, but it is a major prize for most other clubs in the division for reasons of prestige and finances.
In previous seasons, the top three teams in La Liga automatically reached the group stage of the Champions League, and the fourth-place finisher entered the qualifying phase.
That changed at the start of the 2017/18 campaign when UEFA handed more automatic qualification spots to Europe’s biggest leagues, including Spain’s top flight.
This was a controversial move in smaller parts of Europe. Indeed, some feel that the Champions League has grown too elitist, with half of the 32 places in the group phase going to teams from Spain, England, Italy and Germany. Others argue that the quota simply reflects where the strength of European soccer lies today.
(Last 30 seasons) Val 1 Sev -1
|Club||Number of Finishes|
|Deportivo La Coruna||9|
Real Madrid and Barcelona have finished in the top four in 29 of the last 30 La Liga seasons. Madrid missed out in 1995/96, a chaotic campaign in which they only managed a sixth-place finish – below Espanyol and Tenerife, among others.
Barcelona failed to finish in the top four in 2002/03, the final year of Joan Gaspart’s reign as president. The Blaugrana came sixth with only 56 points from 38 matches, which means they finished five points behind fourth-placed Celta Vigo.
Valencia have secured top-four finishes on 14 occasions, but Atletico Madrid will hope to have caught them up in the next few months.
Each of the clubs listed above have finished in the top four of La Liga at least three times since the 1992/93 season.
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Whereas the Premier League had a ‘big four’ in the 2000s – Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool – the term is not really used in La Liga. There has long been a ‘big two’ in Spain (Real Madrid and Barcelona, you will not be surprised to learn) and pundits increasingly speak of a ‘big three’ which now includes Atletico Madrid.This phrase has only started to appear in the last 10 years, though, during which time Atletico have won two La Liga titles. In the 2000s, for instance, it was Valencia who joined Barcelona and Real Madrid to make a ‘big three’.
The Champions League was previously known as the European Cup and was originally open to domestic champions only. To take part in the continent’s biggest competition, a club had to win its national league title (the only other way to do so was to win the previous year’s edition of the European Cup/Champions League). Atletico Madrid won the La Liga title in 1995/96, so Real Madrid and Barcelona did not take part in the next edition of the Champions League – a situation that is unthinkable today.La Liga was awarded a second qualification spot for the competition in time for the 1996/97 campaign, and a third and fourth were added in 1998/99. It was only then that the top four became an objective for La Liga teams. Prior to that, finishing fourth was not very different from finishing fifth or sixth.
Soccer fans based in the United States can watch La Liga on ESPN. Kick-off times usually range from 11.00 AM to 4.00 PM (EST).
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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