Champions League, Europa League, Europa Conference League qualification explained: Who will be playing in Europe next season?

Seven English teams will be playing in Europe next season but how do sides qualify for the Champions League, Europa League, or the new Europa Conference League? And what happens if cup winners finish in the top four of the Premier League?

Paul Pogba celebrates Manchester United's 2017 Europa League victory in Stockholm
Image: Manchester United are aiming to win the Europa League this season

The European Super League has been quashed but the race is very much on to qualify for the Champions League, Europa League, or the new Europa Conference League.

Here's how qualification works - and why the Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup winners make a difference to those chasing qualification through the Premier League.

It gets a little complicated but keep in mind, the maximum number of English teams in UEFA competitions is seven...

Champions League qualification

The top four teams in the Premier League qualify for the group stages of the Champions League.

Winning the Champions League or Europa League also guarantees a place in the group stages.

Up to five English teams can qualify for the Champions League through these two methods but if Manchester United win the Europa League and finish in the top four, their qualification for the Champions League through their league position is not transferred to another team.

How fourth place now guarantees a Champions League place...

There was only one scenario that could play out and mean the fourth-placed finisher misses out on Champions League football.

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It would have occurred if Chelsea finished outside the top four and won the Champions League and Arsenal finished outside the top four and won the Europa League.

But Arsenal's Europa League exit to Villarreal in the semi-finals means the top four are now assured of a Champions League berth.

Europa League and Europa Conference League qualification

There are two Europa League spots available to English clubs. One goes to the team which finishes fifth in the Premier League, the second goes to the side which wins the FA Cup.

As well as the Champions League and the Europa League, the Europa Conference League launches next season.

The idea behind the Europa Conference League is to give more clubs a taste of European football, particularly sides from countries which struggle to qualify for the other two UEFA competitions. But there's a spot up for grabs for English clubs, too.

The winner of the Carabao Cup was guaranteed to qualify for the Europa Conference League play-off round. But after Manchester City lifted the trophy - having already secured a place in the Champions League qualifying spot - their place will be passed on to the next highest-ranked Premier League side which has not qualified for a UEFA competition.

Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho celebrate with the trophy after winning the Carabao Cup (AP)
Image: Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho celebrate with the trophy after winning the Carabao Cup

Meanwhile, Chelsea face Leicester in the FA Cup final and both of those sides are currently in the top four in the Premier League. If they stay there, they will qualify for the Champions League, meaning the Europa League qualifying spot for winning the FA Cup will be passed on to the next highest-ranked Premier League side which has not qualified for a UEFA competition.

Provided Chelsea and Leicester remain in the top five - or Thomas Tuchel's side go on to lift the Champions League - the Premier League's seventh-placed team will qualify for the Europa Conference League next season.

Club by club - who needs what to qualify for Europe

Race for Europe - The remaining fixtures
Image: Race for Europe - The remaining fixtures

Man City

Remaining games: Newcastle (away), Brighton (away), Everton (home), Chelsea (Champions League final)

With fifth-placed West Ham unable to catch them, Man City have already guaranteed a top-four finish and Champions League qualifying spot for next season.

Man Utd

Remaining games: Leicester (home), Liverpool (home), Fulham (home), Wolves (away), Villarreal (Europa League final)

Manchester United's win at Aston Villa coupled with West Ham's defeat later on Sunday means United are certain to finish in the top four.

They could have, in any case, qualified for the Champions League via the Europa League - United are in the final on May 26.

Chelsea

Remaining games: Arsenal (home), Leicester (FA Cup final), Leicester (home), Aston Villa (away), Man City (Champions League final)

Following their win at Manchester City and West Ham's defeat to Everton, Chelsea need six more points from their final three Premier League games to guarantee a top-four finish.

And Thomas Tuchel's team could still qualify for next season's Champions League by winning the competition outright this season - if you haven't heard, Chelsea face Man City in the final on May 29.

In the event of a collapse of league form, a fifth-place finish or FA Cup win would place them in the Europa League.

Leicester

Remaining games: Man Utd (away), Chelsea (FA Cup final), Chelsea (away), Tottenham (home)

Leicester's home defeat to Newcastle means they still need seven points from their final three games - it was eight before West Ham's loss to Everton - to guarantee a top-four finish. But four teams can still overhaul them: West Ham, Liverpool, Spurs and Everton.

If they were to slip out, as they did at the end of last season, they could still qualify for the Europa League via fifth place or by winning the FA Cup final.

Just to reiterate, the Premier League's top four are guaranteed to take a place in next season's Champions League after Arsenal's elimination from the Europa League.

West Ham

Remaining games: Brighton (away), West Brom (away), Southampton (home)

West Ham remain five points behind Leicester with three games to go following the defeat to Everton - which means that, as a minimum, two victories will be required from those three games if they are to qualify for the Champions League.

Behind them, Liverpool are one point behind but with a game in hand, while Tottenham are two points shy of the Hammers having played the same number of games, and Everton are three adrift having also played one game less.

As above, Arsenal's Europa League exit means the Hammers will avoid the nightmare scenario of finishing fourth but missing out on the Champions League - which would have happened had both Chelsea and Arsenal finished outside the top four and won the Champions League and Europa League respectively.

And they remain in contention for a place in the Europa Conference League if they finish best of the rest among sides not qualified for the Champions League or Europa League.

Liverpool

Remaining games: Man Utd (away), West Brom (away), Burnley (away), Crystal Palace (home)

Despite their win over Southampton on Saturday night, Liverpool still have six points to make up on fourth-placed Leicester over their final four games to qualify for the Champions League. "This result keeps Liverpool in the hunt for the top four, but they are still outsiders," said Jamie Carragher following the 2-0 win against the Saints. Liverpool do, however, have a game in hand over Leicester.

Liverpool fixtures

Fifth place, meanwhile, will send them into the Europa League. Liverpool are also in contention for a place in the Europa Conference League if they finish best of the rest among sides not qualified for the Champions League or Europa League.

Tottenham

Remaining games: Wolves (home), Aston Villa (home), Leicester (away)

Defeat at Leeds means Tottenham remain seven points shy of the top four with just three games to go. While the odds are very much against them, victories in their upcoming two home matches - against Wolves and Aston Villa - would set up a fascinating final-day clash at Leicester.

More realistically, Tottenham are also in contention to qualify for the Europa League - and the Europa Conference League if they finish best of the rest among sides not qualified for the Champions League or Europa League.

Everton

Remaining games: Aston Villa (away), Sheffield United (home), Wolves (home), Man City (away)

Everton still have a mathematical chance of qualifying for the Champions League - were they to win all of their three remaining games, they would end the season on 67 points, four more than fourth-placed Leicester currently hold.

Along with Tottenham, Everton's more realistic ambition will be to qualify for the Europa League. Although Carlo Ancelotti's side are only eighth in the table even after winning at West Ham, they are also only three points shy of the fifth-placed Hammers with a game in hand.

Arsenal

Remaining games: Chelsea (away), Crystal Palace (away), Brighton (home)

Arsenal are now mathematically unable to make the top four, and their best chance of qualifying for the Champions League was extinguished when they were knocked out of the Europa League by Villarreal in the semi-finals.

Amassing enough points to reach the Europa League or even Europa Conference League still looks unlikely, leaving the club without European football for the first time in 25 years. That said, were they to finish the season with three more wins then they would claim 61 points - which might be enough.

Leeds

Remaining games: Burnley (away), Southampton (away), West Brom (home)

It's still mathematically possible for Leeds to finish the season in fifth, although it would require an utterly improbable set of results for that outcome to occur.

But, given the league position of their remaining opponents, three victories from their final three games is far from improbable, in which case Leeds would end the campaign with 59 points - and in with a chance of qualifying for Europe.

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