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Will the Premier League get a fifth place in next season’s Champions League?

Will the Premier League get a fifth place in next season’s Champions League?

There will be 36 rather than 32 teams in next season’s rejigged/wrecked Champions League, and two of those extra places will be awarded to the leagues who have been deemed to have performed best in Europe this season.

It’s becoming clearer slightly which two leagues that might be as we reach the business end of the three European trophies, but second spot in particular is closely contested and could yet go right to the wire. It’s perfectly possible we might not know precisely which countries are going to benefit until after the Champions League final.

The system for working out the co-efficient rating that will decide which league comes out on top is (relatively) simple.

At this stage, we don’t need to worry ourselves about the assorted bonus points for being in the Champions League group stage or topping a Europa League group; what matters now is this. Every individual match win is worth two points, whether that’s in the Champions League, Europa League or Conference, and every draw is worth one point.

In the Champions League and Europa League there is an extra bonus point every time you make it a round further in the competition, while in the Conference those bonus points only kick in for the semi-final and final

So if you qualify for, say, the Champions League quarter-final by winning both legs of your last-16 clash, you collect five points for your country’s tally: two for each win and a bonus point for reaching the next stage. If you get through with a win and a defeat it’s three points (two for a win, plus the bonus point). And so on.

What that means is that from the last 16 onwards there are the same number of points available for Europa League and Champions League teams, meaning countries with several teams in the easier competition are in a potentially advantageous position. It certainly pays to at least have a spread of teams across the three competitions to maximise point-scoring opportunities.

The total number of points accrued by all teams from a particular league are then divided by the total number of teams from that league who began the season in European competition to obtain an average rating that determines the all-important standings.

So taking leaders Italy as an example, their teams have between them amassed 116 points across their European campaigns. They started the season with seven teams in Europe, so 116 divided by seven gives their current average co-efficient of 16.571pts.

This therefore means individual match wins are worth more to the score for a country that had fewer teams involved; a win for any French side is worth 0.333pts to the final tally because it is divided by the six teams they had in contention when the season began, while for England or Spain a two-point win is worth only 0.250pts to the total after it has been divided by eight.

As things currently stand the two teams to benefit from the new system would be Roma (fifth in Serie A) and RB Leipzig (fifth in the Bundesliga) but Aston Villa, Tottenham and Manchester United will all be keeping a keen eye on proceedings as potential beneficiaries should England manage to squeeze into the top two.

1) Italy – 16.571pts
Serie A strengthened its grip on top spot with a flawless Thursday featuring wins for Milan, Fiorentina and most significantly a surely decisive one for Roma that’s even more valuable for coming against English opponents in Brighton. Given Roma’s current spot in Serie A, it’s a doubly valuable win for them.

With Milan, Fiorentina and especially Roma all now probable to certain quarter-finalists, they might well be able to afford to lose both Inter and Napoli in the Champions League next week and still remain on course for a top-two spot.

Total teams: Seven
Teams still active: Six
Quarter-finalists: None (yet…)
Last 16: Inter (UCL, lead Atletico Madrid 1-0), Napoli (UCL, 1-1 against Barcelona), Milan (UEL, lead Slavia Prague 4-2), Roma (UEL, lead Brighton 4-0), Fiorentina (UECL, lead Maccabi Haifa 4-3)
Eliminated: Lazio

2) Germany – 15.500pts
Having only four teams left in the running makes Germany vulnerable to England and leaves Freiburg’s Europa League last-16 tie with West Ham potentially pivotal. Narrowly, it’s advantage Germany in that one after the first leg, with the second leg of that tie perhaps the single most important of next week’s various second legs with regard to this particular battle. We’re sure West Ham would be only too happy to potentially help Spurs out.

Bayern Munich overturning a first-leg deficit against Lazio in the Champions League was obviously a big head-to-head win against a direct rival, but while Bayer Leverkusen just about preserved their season-long unbeaten record in all competitions at Qarabag it’s also fair to say that may have been a tie where the Germans might have expected to win both legs.

While this week’s results are okay, all three of Germany’s last-16 combatants remain in some jeopardy and they surely need at least a couple of them to go further alongside Bayern.

Total teams: Seven
Teams still active: Four
Quarter-finalists: Bayern Munich (UCL)
Last 16: Borussia Dortmund (UCL, 1-1 against PSV), Freiburg (UEL, lead West Ham 1-0), Bayer Leverkusen (UEL, 2-2 against Qarabag),
Eliminated: Union Berlin, RB Leipzig, Eintracht Frankfurt

3) England – 14.650pts
A disappointing night in the Europa and Conference on Thursday leaves the Premier League facing a tougher task than before to reel in Germany, with Italy almost over the horizon. Liverpool’s win at Sparta Prague is good news, but the scale of it raises the prospect of a much-changed second-leg team potentially losing or drawing on the night in the second leg while still making it safely through.

West Ham and Aston Villa both have reason to believe they can overcome Freiburg and Ajax in a week’s time, but Brighton’s near-certain elimination at the hands of Roma is costly.

Man City are safely through to the last eight of the Champions League already, with Arsenal favourites to join them despite a messy first leg against Porto.

Total teams: Eight
Teams still active: Six
Quarter-finalists: Manchester City (UCL)
Last 16: Arsenal (UCL, trail Porto 1-0), Liverpool (UEL, lead Sparta Prague 5-1), Brighton (UEL, trail Roma 4-0), West Ham (UEL, trail Freiburg 1-0), Aston Villa (UECL, 0-0 against Ajax)
Eliminated: Manchester United, Newcastle

4) France – 14.416pts
Having only three teams still in the running makes it hard for France to reel in the countries above them, but PSG are already in the Champions League quarter-finals and both Marseille and Lille now have one foot firmly in the last eights of their Thursday night events.

Marseille’s likely elimination of Villarreal also makes it far harder for Spain to catch France.

Total teams: Six
Teams still active: Three
Quarter-finalists: Paris St-Germain (UCL)
Last 16: Marseille (UEL, lead Villarreal 4-0), Lille (UECL, lead Sturm Graz 3-0)
Eliminated: Lens, Rennes, Toulouse

5) Spain – 13.437pts
Slipping from contention now with Villarreal almost certainly out and neither Barcelona nor Atletico Madrid certain of Champions League progression either. Having all their eggs in the Champions League basket is bad news at this stage, given it offers no further points advantage over the Europa and is at least in theory a tougher challenge.

Total teams: Eight
Teams still active: Four
Quarter-finalists: Real Madrid (UCL)
Last 16: Barcelona (UCL, 1-1 against Napoli), Atletico Madrid (UCL, trail Inter 1-0), Villarreal (UEL, trail Marseille 4-0)
Eliminated: Osasuna, Sevilla, Real Betis, Real Sociedad

6) Czech Republic – 13.000
7) Belgium – 12.400
8) Turkey – 11.000
9) Portugal – 10.167
10) Netherlands – 9.800

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