Which Argentine clubs are playing in next year’s continental cups?

The Argentine Primera División season is over, and the era of thirty-team championships goes with it; with four teams going down and just two coming up (we don’t know whom yet, because the B Nacional still has between five and six rounds left to play), the 2017-18 season will ‘only’ include twenty-eight sides. You can see the final Primera standings here, so what are the important things we have confirmed?

Boca Juniors are the champions, for the second time in three campaigns. Well done them. Joining Boca in the 2018 Copa Libertadores group stage are runners-up River Plate, third-placed Estudiantes and fourth-placed Racing. Going into the second playoff round of the Libertadores – for now – are fifth-placed Banfield. Relegated (this is a different table, remember!): Aldosivi, Quilmes, Atlético de Rafaela and Sarmiento.

Apart from that, things are slightly more up in the air, because one Copa Libertadores place will be given out via the Copa Argentina, whilst qualification via the league could also get bumped down the table if Argentine sides win the Libertadores and/or Sudamericana this year (both those titles bring with them an automatic spot in next year’s Libertadores group stages). Of course, all three of those finals come at the end of the year, so teams currently one or two places outside the qualifying spots for the two continental cups will only find out for sure whether or not they’ve got midweek action next year in December.

Silvio Maverino has a handy explainer in a tweet I retweeted a little earlier.

I promised I’d translate the basics of that when I got a chance, so here goes.

Independiente finished sixth; San Lorenzo finished seventh. For the moment, sixth to eleventh place go into the Copa Sudamericana, but they could get bumped up as follows.

If the Copa Libertadores is won by an Argentine side who are already qualified via the league (i.e. River), the team sixth in the 2016-17 league table (Independiente) will go into the playoffs for the Libertadores (and I believe, although Maverino doesn’t say so in his tweet, that fifth-placed Banfield would be bumped up into an automatic group stage position). The team in twelfth (Rosario Central) would also get into the Sudamericana

If the Copa Libertadores is won by an Argentine side who are in the Copa Sudamericana qualifying spots (i.e. San Lorenzo or Lanús), that side go to the Copa Libertadores group stage. The sixth-placed team in the league (Independiente) still go to the Copa Sudamericana, but San Lorenzo’s or Lanús’ Sudamericana place will bump one position down the table, so the team in twelfth (Rosario Central) would go into the Sudamericana.

If the Copa Libertadores is won by an Argentine side who haven’t qualified for either continental cup via the league (i.e. Godoy Cruz), that team will go into the Copa Libertadores group stage, without any other spots opening up for anyone.

If the Copa Sudamericana is won by an Argentine side who have already qualified for a continental cup via the league (i.e. Independiente, Racing, Defensa y Justicia or Estudiantes), that team will go into the Copa Libertadores group stage and an additional spot will open up for next year’s Sudamericana (twelfth-placed Rosario Central, or thirteenth-placed Gimnasia if Central get into the Sudamericana due to River, San Lorenzo or Lanús winning the Libertadores).

If the Copa Sudamericana is won by an Argentine side who haven’t qualified for either continental cup via the league (i.e. Huracán or Arsenal de Sarandí), that team will go into the Copa Libertadores group stage, without any other spots opening up for anyone.

If the winners of the Copa Argentina have already qualified for the Copa Libertadores (whether by the league or by virtue of also winning either continental cup), the Copa Argentina Libertadores spot will go to the next best not-already-qualified team in the Copa Argentina. This means that if the runners-up in the Copa Argentina have also already qualified, then the best semi-finalists will get the spot (and so on if the losing semi-finalists have also already qualified). I seem to remember reading last week that ‘best semi-finalists’ will be decided (if a tie-break is required) according to league position, but this team will still qualify via their Copa Argentina performance. This means that if, say, River beat Racing in the Copa Argentina final, and the two losing semi-finalists were Huracán and Belgrano, Huracán would take the Copa Argentina spot for the Libertadores, because the two finalists were already qualified, and of the losing semi-finalists, Huracán finished higher in the league table (twenty-fifth to Belgrano’s twenty-eighth).

By the time any of this becomes relevant you’ll have stopped caring anyway, but I promised to translate the thing, so there it is. Short summary: if you’re a Rosario Central fan, you want an Argentine club to win one of the continental trophies this year. If you’re a Gimnasia fan, you want Argentine clubs to win both of them. If you’re anyone else, you want your side to win the Copa Argentina, because it’s a trophy so of course you do anyway.

Don’t come back to this post in mid-2018 to see how it all works, because by then the AFA will have tweaked the qualifying process again, I expect.

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