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Premier League: Who can qualify for Champions League and Europa League?

Sheffield United’s hopes of European football for the first time in their history are over after they lost to Everton on Monday

Wolves boosted their Europa League hopes with a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Monday, but Sheffield United’s dream is over following their 1-0 defeat by Everton.

Manchester City’s successful appeal against their European ban means the top four in the Premier League will (probably) qualify for next season’s Champions League, with the next two (or possibly three) going into the Europa League.

What do their run-ins look like, who is likely to qualify and who could meet in what would effectively be a Champions League play-off? With one or two games to go, BBC Sport thought it was time we checked things out.

Champions League

Third and fourth place qualify for the Champions League (unless English teams win both European competitions and finish outside the top four), with Liverpool and Manchester City having sealed the top two places

Premier League champions Liverpool and Manchester City, who will definitely finish second, have already booked their place in next season’s Champions League.

Chelsea, Leicester and Manchester United are battling it out for the final two Champions League group-stage spots.

There is a possibility only the top three would qualify for the Champions League – if the two major European club trophies are both won by English teams who finish outside this season’s top four.

Why? Because there can be a maximum of five English teams in the Champions League.

So if Chelsea win the Champions League and Wolves win the Europa League – and neither finish in the top four (Chelsea and Manchester United cannot both finish outside the top four) – then both sides would qualify for next season’s Champions League and fourth place in the Premier League would only earn a Europa League spot.

3. Chelsea

Liverpool (a, 22 July), Wolves (h, 26 July)

Chelsea, who are one point clear of fifth place, just need to beat either Liverpool or Wolves to be sure of a top-four spot.

4. Leicester City

Man Utd (h, 26 July)

Leicester City are in the fourth Champions League position, but only just – on goals scored. Their game against Manchester United on the final day will probably be winner-takes-all for the final Champions League spot – although they might need to win by more than one.

5. Manchester United

West Ham (h, 22 July), Leicester (a, 26 July)

Manchester United – the Premier League’s form team – will guarantee a top-four finish if they pick up four points in their final two games.

Leicester are above Manchester United on goals scored. If they finish level on points, goal difference and goals scored, and are fourth and fifth, then it goes down to head-to-head record (factoring in away goals). United won 1-0 at home in September. If the Foxes win 1-0 on the final day – and they are level on points, goal difference and goals scored, then they would need a play-off to decide who finishes fourth. However for that to happen United would need to beat West Ham 5-3.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said after his side’s 3-0 loss to Tottenham: “It was always going to go down to the last game and we have a shot to get into the Champions League.

“The players will have a couple of days rest then focus on the next game. It will be a fantastic game and we can look forward to it.”

Europa League

Fifth and sixth place qualify for the Europa League – and possibly seventh

The teams who finish fifth and sixth will qualify for next season’s Europa League (unless they win one of next month’s European tournaments).

If the FA Cup winners finish in the top six, then seventh place in the Premier League would qualify for the Europa League. The team who qualify in the lowest league spot go into the second qualifying round.

FA Cup finalists Arsenal are currently 10th in the league.

At least one of Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester United will end up in the Europa League spots but we will focus our permutations on the teams who will hope to qualify.

6. Wolves

Chelsea (a, 26 July)

Wolves will qualify for the Europa League if they beat Chelsea on the final day. But if they lose they could still finish eighth.

7. Tottenham Hotspur

Crystal Palace (a, 26 July)

Spurs need Wolves to drop points if they do not want to worry about who wins the FA Cup. A win over Palace on the final day guarantees them at least seventh.

10. Arsenal

Aston Villa (a, 21 July), Watford (h, 26 July)

Arsenal will be guaranteed a Europa League group place if they win the FA Cup final.

To qualify through the league they need to win both their final games and hope for results to go their way on the final day.

What happens if an English team wins in Europe?

Manchester City, Chelsea, Wolves and Manchester United all play in Europe next month. If any of them win their trophy, they will go into next season’s Champions League group stages no matter where they finish in the league.

If Manchester City (who lead Real Madrid 2-1 in the last 16) win the Champions League, it makes no difference to the European places in the Premier League – England would not get any extra places.

But if Chelsea (who trail Bayern Munich 3-0) win the tournament and finish outside the top four, then five English teams would go into next year’s Champions League with two in the Europa League.

The same is true for Manchester United (leading LASK 5-0) and Wolves (1-1 v Olympiakos) in the Europe League last 16.

If either win the tournament and finish in the top four, England does not get an extra space. If they win and finish outside the top four, then England gets five Champions League spots.

If Chelsea win the Champions League AND Wolves win the Europa League – and neither finish in the top four – then only the top three in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League.

Uefa regulations suggest England could have eight teams in Europe if that happened and one of them did not finish in the top six/seven – or nine if they both fail to.


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