The race for Europe is on, but which teams make it into the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference next season is still to be decided in both England and Scotland.
How many English teams qualify for European football?
There are seven European spots open to English sides – although that number could have risen to nine and the amount of teams in each individual competition could have shifted.
As a basis:
- The top four in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League group stage
- Fifth place and the FA Cup winners qualify for the Europa League group stage
- The Carabao Cup winners qualify for the Europa Conference League playoff
However, because Liverpool won the FA Cup, their Europa League qualifying spot for winning the competition will be passed down to the next highest Premier League finisher who doesn’t qualify for Europe.
Similarly, because Liverpool won the Carabao Cup and will finish in the top four, their Europa Conference League qualifying spot from that competition will go to the next highest Premier League finisher without European football.
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So that means sides which finish sixth and seventh in the Premier League table are in contention for a place in the Europa League or Europa Conference League respectively next season.
As it stands
Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham would qualify for the Champions League by finishing in the Premier League’s top four positions.
Arsenal would go into the Europa League, along with Manchester United (who would get in thanks to Liverpool passing on their spot from winning the FA Cup).
Seventh-placed West Ham would qualify for the Europa Conference League, thanks to Liverpool’s Carabao Cup winner’s spot being passed on.
Who’s already qualified?
Arsenal secured a top-six finish in the Premier League with their win at West Ham, but they will be hoping to turn that into a top-four finish in the coming weeks
Manchester City and Liverpool have pulled clear at the top of the Premier League, and while their battle to win the Premier League title continues, they don’t have to worry about Champions League qualification.
Meanwhile, the last two spots in the top four are still up for grabs with Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham in contention. However, whatever the outcome, it will be a top-five finish for all three teams.
When will top four be settled?
A dip in form for Chelsea has seen them dragged into the race for the top four, but all they need is one point from their final two games of the season – both at home to Leicester and Watford – to ensure Champions League qualification given their vastly superior goal difference.
Arsenal can secure their place in the Champions League for the first time since 2017 if they win their final two matches of the season. The Gunners play Newcastle on Monday Night Football and a win for Mikel Arteta’s side will see them move back into fourth with one round of fixtures remaining.
Tuesday 17th May 12:00am
However, anything less than a win for Arsenal on Monday night will see Tottenham go into this Sunday’s final Premier League matchday in front. Spurs travel to relegated Norwich on the final day, while Arsenal host Everton.
Should Arsenal draw at Newcastle on Monday, then Antonio Conte’s side will need to better Arsenal’s result this weekend to secure top four. Should the Gunners lose in the north east, then a draw could be enough for Tottenham, providing Arsenal do not turn round a 13 goal difference swing in their last two games.
Can Chelsea miss out on CL qualification?
Chelsea have struggled in recent weeks amid uncertainty around ownership of the club
For so long Chelsea finishing third, let alone securing Champions League qualification, has felt like an inevitability, but there is a remote chance that they could miss out on the top four entirely.
For the Blues to miss out, Chelsea will need to lose both of their home matches against Leicester and Watford this week. After that, two wins for Arsenal against Newcastle and Everton, along with a Tottenham victory at Norwich will see them finish fifth.
Should Spurs fail to beat Norwich on Sunday, then Chelsea’s Champions League spot is confirmed for next season. The same situation is likely to apply for Arsenal in their final two games, as the Blues (+39) boast a far superior goal difference to Arsenal (+14).
Could Man Utd be playing in the Conference League?
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton’s win against Manchester United
Manchester United and West Ham are the teams fighting for sixth – the final spot to secure a place in next season’s Europa League group stage. Neither side is able to finish in fifth.
United hold a two-point advantage over West Ham with one game remaining – with this battle for Europa League football set to go down to the final day of the season.
West Ham’s last Premier League game of the season is away at Brighton, while Manchester United also have an away day this weekend – at Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace.
David Moyes’ Hammers know that they need to beat Brighton to stand any chance of finishing sixth – and hope United drop points at Selhurst Park. A draw for United would be enough in the event of a West Ham victory, as the east Londoners (+11) have a far superior goal difference than Ralf Rangnick’s side (+1).
Should Brighton claim at least a draw against West Ham, then United’s spot in the Europa League is confirmed next season – no matter what their result is at Selhurst Park.
Where could all teams finish?
Manchester City and Liverpool are locked in a two-horse race for the Premier League title – but how high or low could your club finish this season?
Clubs have between one and two games left to seal their fate but 10 out of 20 clubs are still challenging for the title, qualification for the Champions League, Europa League or Europa Conference League, or to avoid the drop.
Data guru Ben Mayhew has calculated each club’s range of possible final league positions and found, in addition to the 10 teams fighting for a cause, another seven clubs are battling for a top-half finish.
Consequently, only relegated Norwich and Watford, in addition to Southampton – who have avoided the drop but could only muster an 11th-placed finish at best – are the only teams playing purely for pride during the run-in.
Mayhew has also simulated every possible result from the remaining games and calculated the probabilities of each club’s possible final positions.
The results suggest Manchester City have an 86-per-cent chance of retaining their Premier League crown – leaving Liverpool a 14-per-cent chance of delivering a season finale unseen in a decade.
The top-four spot is split by the finest of margins with Tottenham now favourites to land the final Champions League spot with 50.46 per cent, compared with the Gunners’ 47.63 per cent.
Manchester United have a 78-per-chance of finishing in the Europa League spot, but could drop into the Europa Conference League if results conspire against them, with West Ham’s chances of achieving that feat calculated at 22 per cent.
Finally, Leeds are favourites to join Norwich and Watford in the Championship next term at 64 per cent, followed by Burnley (30 per cent) and Everton (six per cent).
How can Celtic and Rangers both qualify for CL?
Rangers are in the Europa League final – which could secure them a place in the Champions League
Celtic claimed the Scottish Premiership title last week at Dundee United on Wednesday and have subsequently earned direct passage to the Champions League group stage next season.
Rangers can also join their Old Firm rivals in the Champions League group stage if they beat Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League final on May 18 in Seville.
Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Hearts
If they lose in Spain, Rangers will still have a shot at reaching the Europe’s elite competition as their second-place finish secures them a place in the Champions League third qualifying round.
But even if Rangers were to fail to get through the Champions League qualifying rounds, they would still be assured of a place in next season’s Europa League group stage.
How many Scottish teams can qualify for Europe?
Hearts have secured a Europa League playoff spot already
Five teams can qualify for Europe from Scotland this season.
Hearts – along with Celtic and Rangers – are guaranteed a place in the group stage of European competition for the first time in 17 years after reaching the Scottish Cup final, where they will play Rangers, and securing a third-place finish in the Scottish Premiership.
Usually in Scotland, the third and fourth-placed teams qualify for the Europa Conference League in the third and second qualifying rounds respectively. Meanwhile, the winners of the Scottish Cup earn a Europa League playoff spot.
However, if the victors have already qualified for the Europa League or the Champions League – as Rangers have done – that playoff spot would fall to the team in third, which in this case is Hearts.
Dundee United sealed European football on the final day of the Scottish league season
So even if Hearts lose the final, they will be playing in the Europa League playoff, with qualification to the Europa Conference League assured if they are unsuccessful.
Dundee United secured a spot in the Europa Conference League third qualifying round last weekend by beating Ross County 2-1 on the final day of the season. Motherwell – who were thrashed 6-0 by Celtic on the final day – have also reached the same competitio, but need to qualify for the competition proper from the second qualifying rounds.
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