By Joe Fischetti.
Serie A is finally set to resume after a three-month break, starting with the Coppa Italia from June 12th to June 17.
Juventus host AC Milan on Friday at the Allianz Stadium after a 1-1 draw in the first leg. Napoli host Inter Milan on Saturday at the San Paolo after defeating Inter 1-0 in the first leg.
The outcomes of these semi-finals and the ensuing final could have important implications for qualification for next year’s Europa League.
How many Serie A clubs qualify for the Europa league?
Regulation 3.01. UEFA member associations may enter the winner of their national cup competition (hereinafter domestic cup), as well as a certain number of other clubs for the competition through their top domestic championship, in accordance with the association coefficient rankings.
Based on Serie A’s UEFA coefficient ranking, the Italian association will have three representatives in the Europa League: the winner of the Coppa Italia and the two clubs that finish highest in Serie A that do not qualify for the Champions League (i.e. fifth and sixth).
What happens if Juventus or Inter win the Coppa Italia?
Regulation 3.04. If the winner of the domestic cup qualifies for the UEFA Champions League…the highest ranking nonqualified domestic championship club qualifies for the UEFA Europa League at the stage initially reserved for the lowest ranking top domestic championship representative.
Juventus are currently at the top of the Serie A table with 63 points from 26 matches, while Inter are in third place with 54 points from 25 matches.
Both clubs are expected to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League. If either team win the Coppa Italia, then the fifth- and sixth-placed clubs in Serie A would qualify for the group stage of the Europa League, and the seventh-place team would play in the qualification round.
If the Serie A season ended today, Roma and Napoli would qualify for the group stage and Milan would play in the qualification round.
What happens if Napoli or Milan win the Coppa Italia and finish fifth or sixth in Serie A?
Regulation 3.04. If the winner of the domestic cup qualifies for…the UEFA Europa League via the domestic championship, the highest ranking nonqualified domestic championship club qualifies for the UEFA Europa League at the stage initially reserved for the lowest ranking top domestic championship representative.
Napoli are currently in sixth place with 39 points from 26 matches and Milan are in seventh place with 36 points in 26 matches.
If either team wins the Coppa Italia and finishes in fifth or sixth in the Serie A table, then the team in seventh place would play in the qualification round.
What should Napoli and Milan supporters hope for?
Of course, Napoli and Milan supporters will be hoping for their respective clubs to win the Coppa Italia, both for the automatic qualification to the Europa League group stage and the financial rewards that come with winning the tournament, not to mention adding another trophy to the cabinet, and bragging rights.
Next, and perhaps equally obvious, they will be hoping their clubs finish fifth as an alternate route to secure qualification to the group stage, or sixth to secure a spot in the qualification round.
Failing that, Napoli and Milan fans should next be cheering for either Juventus or Inter to win the Coppa Italia — as difficult as that might be — as these two outcomes would open up a third Europa League spot for the team that finishes in seventh in Serie A.
Finally, with Roma, Napoli, Milan, Verona, Parma, Bologna and Cagliari all vying for two Europa League spots, Milan and Napoli supporters should cheer for each other to do well in Serie A.
If either club wins the Coppa Italia and finishes in fifth or sixth, then the seventh-place team will play in the qualification round.
It’s also worth noting that, should Roma win the 2019/20 Europa League, they would automatically qualify for the group stage of the 2020/21 Champions League. If the season ended today, Roma would be fifth in Serie A, meaning seventh place would qualify for Europa League.
Thus, in a bizarre turn of events, Napoli and Milan supporters should cheer for Juventus, Inter, Roma and each other to do well in the various competitions.