The qualifying rounds and group stages of the 2022-23 UEFA club competitions are out of the way. As we roll into 2023, here is a look back at what the representatives of LaLiga have done in the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Europa Conference League. All seven teams will be discussed, moreover, a look at what it means for Spain from a coefficient perspective. 

 

LaLiga in the Champions League 

Real Madrid 

When it came to the Champions League, Spanish clubs were an atrocity to say the least. The one exception to that was Real, who impressed against RB Leipzig, Shakhtar Donetsk and Celtic. 

Kicking things off with an easy 3-0 success at Celtic, the defending Champions League and LaLiga winners followed that up with a 2-0 win over Leipzig. Carlo Ancelotti’s men would make it three for three with a 2-1 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk. The result over the Ukrainians put them in a commanding position in the group. 

While they would be held to a 1-1 draw in the return match against Shakhtar, the Galacticos earned a top two finish ahead of the final two games. They would fall 3-2 in Germany to Leipzig, but bounced back to top Celtic 5-1 in the last group game to win their group. 

The 14-time European Cup winners obtained 18.000 coefficient points from the first half of the season. As for the five-year coefficient ranking, Real sits at 110.000 points, good for sixth in that stretch. They will be in for a difficult round of 16 tie against Liverpool should they wish to add to their total. In what is a repeat of last year’s final in Paris, LaLiga’s sole surviving Champions League team has a tough ask ahead of them. 

 

Barcelona 

The group of death in this season’s Champions League group stage involved Barcelona as they were pitted against Bayern Munich, Internazionale and Viktoria Plzen. There was no telling as to how this would end up. However, the Catalans could seldom falter should they wish to move on.

Despite topping Plzen 5-1 at home to start,, Barca failed to improve upon their opening day showing. A 2-0 defeat in Germany was followed by a 1-0 reverse in Italy. That meant Xavi’s side would have to defeat Inter in the return match in order to stand any shot at progression. 

In what was possibly the most exciting match of the group stage, Robert Lewandowksi’s 92nd minute goal gave the Blaugrana a point, with the game finishing 3-3. They followed that with a 3-0 humiliation at home to Bayern, condemning them to the Europa League for the second year running. They went out of the Champions League with a 4-2 success over Viktoria Plzen in Czechia. 

Seventh in the five-year club coefficient standing with 98.000 points, Barcelona only earned 9.000 points on the season. Manchester United is their next opponent in the Europa League knockout playoffs. The Red Devils are one point and one place below Barca in the five-year rankings. It will be a mouthwatering clash of two huge football clubs. With that in mind, Barca will have to improve upon their European showings in order to prevail.

 

Atletico Madrid 

Atleti’s UCL showing will likely go down as one of the worst showings by a Spanish club in Europe. Drawn alongside Porto, Bayer Leverkusen and Club Brugge, they had a rather favourable group. Los Colchoneros were certainly favourites for at least a top two finish.

Instead, their dramatic 101st minute winner on matchday 1 at home to Porto was their only win across the six games. That would be followed by a pair of 2-0 away defeats to Bayer Leverkusen and Club Brugge. A 0-0 at home to the latter plus a 2-2 stalemate versus the former meant that going into the last game, Cholo Simeone’s men could only get a Europa League spot at best. Yet even third spot eluded the Colchoneros, as Porto prevailed 2-1 at home. Since Bayer Leverkusen owned the head-to-head over Atleti, the Germans pipped them for third spot.  

The dismal performances mean that Atletico Madrid dropped out of the top 10 of the five-year coefficient ranking, now 11th with 85.000 points. Of the top 25 teams in that same ranking, only Juventus has earned less points this season than Atleti’s 8.000. Atleti was the only LaLiga side not to survive the group stages in Europe.

 

Sevilla 

They may have finished a place better than Atletico did, but Sevilla hardly fared better than their fellow Spanish brethren. Grouped with Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and FC København, Sevilla would always have it tough.  

It all started with a 4-0 humbling at home to Man. City, leading to Julen Lopetegui’s dismissal. The Andalusians would also fail to score in Denmark, drawing 0-0 with København, before shipping another four goals at home, this time to Borussia Dortmund. 

Despite losing 4-1 at home to the Germans, they did manage a point on their travels (1-1 score). Now led by Jorge Sampaoli, the Blanquirrojos would go on to defeat København 3-0 at home before bowing out with a 3-1 reverse to Manchester City. 

Unlike Atletico Madrid, the five points earned by Sevilla was enough for third spot. Furthermore, they also have earned 8.000 points this season, but find themselves in 19th over the five-year period (78.000 points). In the Europa League, they will take on PSV Eindhoven in the knockout playoffs. 

 

LaLiga in the Europa League 

Real Betis 

The defending Copa del Rey champions was dealt a somewhat favourable group in their second straight Europa League season and third in the last five years. Outside of inaugural Europa Conference League winners Roma, the Verdiblancos also contended with Ludogorets Razgrad and HJK Helsinki. 

Commencing with a 2-0 victory in Finland, Manuel Pellegrini’s men twice held a two-goal advantage at home to Ludogorets. They would eventually hold out for a 3-2 win. They also came from a goal down in Rome to top 10-men Roma 2-1. Drawing the return game 1-1, Betis earned a top two finish with that result. A 1-0 defeat of Ludogorets on matchday five sealed the group, finishing it off with a 3-0 win over HJK. 

Finishing atop Group C gives Los Verdiblancos a bye to the last 16, where they will face a yet-to-be-determined opponent. So far, they have amassed 16.000 points in Europe this season, bringing their five-year total to 37.000. 

 

Real Sociedad 

Playing the Europa League for the third year running, La Real had a similar group to Betis, drawing Manchester United, Sheriff Tiraspol and Omonoia Nicosia.  

Sociedad pulled off five wins on the spin, starting with a surprise 1-0 win at Old Trafford. Wins over Omonoia (2-1 at home, 2-0 away) and Sheriff (2-0 away, 3-0 home) meant they hosted United on the last day with an advantage. Avoiding defeat or a loss by one goal would win them the group. Despite Alejandro Garnacho’s 17th minute goal, United could not bypass Real Sociedad’s defense a second time. The 1-0 defeat at home was still enough for La Real to top their section. 

That allows Imanol Aguacil’s men to avoid the knockout playoffs and earn a direct berth into the last 16. It also leaves them with 15.000 coefficient points earned this season and 32.000 in the five-year standing. 

 

LaLiga in the Europa Conference League 

Villarreal 

Fresh off a Europa League title in 2020-21 and a Champions League semifinal appearance last season, Villarreal became the first LaLiga team to partake in the new Europa Conference League. Entering at the playoff round, the Yellow Submarine topped Hajduk Split 4-2 and 2-0 to make the group stage. 

Grouped with Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Lech Poznan, and Austria Wien, everyone had Villarreal as the group winners. Despite winning three of their opening four games by one-goal margins, the highest ranked team in this season’s Conference League topped their group with two games to spare. No other team in Europe managed to achieve such a feat.

They would go on to draw 2-2 with Hapoel Be’er Sheva and lose 3-0 at Lech Poznan in their other two games. However, that seldom mattered for Villarreal, who saw success coach Unai Emery leave for Aston Villa after progressing. Only three teams had better records in the Conference League group stage this term. 

Villarreal’s exploits leave them with 11.000 points won on the season, and 81.000 over the five-year stretch. That leaves them 17th in the ranking, and with a bye to the last 16, they likely have several opportunities to add to that total. 

 

Spanish coefficients in 2022/23 

From a country point-of-view, Spain has done better in group stages in the past. It was a story of two tales this time around, comparing the Champions League teams to the non-Champions League ones. With only Real getting out of their UCL group, that left a lot of coefficient points on the table.  

Fortunately for Spain, Real Betis, Real Sociedad and Villarreal partially made up for the poor UCL showings. All three managed to win their groups in the Europa (Conference) League. The only other country to have three or more teams win Europa (Conference) League groups was Turkey (Fenebahçe, Basaksehir and Sivasspor). 

Looking at their overall record, the seven LaLiga clubs are 24-8-12 in Europe this season. England (34) and Germany (27) are the only countries with more wins at this stage. Translating that into coefficient points won in the summer and fall of 2022, Spain has 12.428 won. That leaves them third to England’s 16.571 and Germany’s 13.750. In the five-year country ranking, Spain remains second with 88.885 points won. 

The last time Spain did not get to at least 18.000 points in a European season was back in 2012/13. There they only achieved 17.714 points. While there is still much of the season to go, the six remaining LaLiga teams in Europe will have to pick up the slack if they do not want the country to go below 18.000 points for the first time in a decade.