Why Man Utd would qualify for Champions League group stage if they win Europa League
Last Updated: 08/05/17 5:35pm
Manchester United are set to qualify directly into the group stages of next year's Champions League if they win the Europa League, barring one unlikely circumstance.
United won 1-0 at Celta Vigo in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday to put themselves in a strong position in the tie.
With a top-four finish in the Premier League in the balance, winning the Europa League appears to be United's best chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season.
Since 2014/15 the winners of the competition have been guaranteed a Champions League place, but not necessarily a group-stage place. That depends on who wins the Champions League.
If the Champions League winners would also qualify for the tournament the following season through their domestic league finish, then the Europa League winner goes into the group stage.
But if the team that wins the Champions League does not also qualify via their league finish, then the Europa League winner faces a play-off to qualify for the Champions League.
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That appears to be good news for United this season, unless Atletico Madrid win the Champions League.
That's because the three other semi-finalists - Juventus, Real Madrid and Monaco - are all going to qualify for next year's competition through their league finish.
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But Atletico could still finish fourth, which would mean they would not qualify directly into the group stage. There is still a small chance they could miss out on the top four altogether and finish fifth.
So if they won the Champions League and United won the Europa League then the Premier League side would need to navigate a play-off.
That appears unlikely, though, as Atletico lost the first leg of their semi-final 3-0 to Real Madrid.
If United win the Europa League and finish in the top four in the Premier League then the top-four sides will all qualify for the Champions League group stage.
Again, that would only change if Atletico won the Champions League and did not finish in the top three in La Liga.
If United do finish fourth and win the Europa League then fifth place in the Premier League will not qualify for the Champions League.
But their place in the Europa League third qualifying round from winning the EFL Cup would go to the next-highest ranked team in the Premier League that has not qualified for Europe.
If United win the Europa League and finish outside the top four then there will be five Premier League teams in next season's Champions League.
The top three will qualify for the group stage, fourth place will be in the play-off round and United will be in the group stage unless Atletico win the Champions League and do not qualify for the group stage through their league finish.