As the second half of domestic seasons across Europe move into the second half of the 2022/23 campaign, attention turns to continental competitions.
The return of the Champions League and Europa League brings with it major excitement for fans alongside the chance for a European title.
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Real Madrid’s Champions League defense is La Liga’s only chance of glory in Europe’s premier competition as Carlo Ancelotti’s side face old foes Liverpool in the last 16 in February.
However, Spain could have four representatives in the Europa League for the knockout stages, with Real Betis and Real Sociedad already qualified for the next phase.
Barcelona and Sevilla will be hoping to join them in the last 16, but they must navigate a tricky play off, up against Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven respectively.
Xavi has hinted at a clash with the Red Devils being their biggest test of the season, as they face Erik ten Hag’s resurgent team, but Sevilla will be confident of getting past PSV.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side are the most successful team in the competition’s combined history, between the UEFA Cup and Europa League, with six overall titles, and four in the latter tournament.
However, they are struggling in La Liga this season, despite Sampaoli’s return to the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, and they will need to rely on past experience in Europe.
Barcelona are in a process of rebuilding, but they will fancy their chances of potential glory, if they can dump United out of the competition, behind tournament favorites Arsenal.
Despite qualifying automatically, Real Betis and Real Sociedad are not expected to reach the final, or lift the trophy, in Budapest on May 31.
La Real’s strongest showing in Europe competition came all the way back in the 1983 European Cup semi-final as they lost out to eventual winners Hamburg.
Real Betis have never gone beyond the quarter final stage in any European competition.
However, they will face at least two less games in 2023, compared to Barcelona and Sevilla’s schedule, as they miss out on the incoming play off tension.
They will be exempt from facing another Spanish side in the first round of knockout games, as per UEFA rules, but United, Juventus, AS Monaco and AS Roma could be on the horizon for the quartet in the last 16.