Champions League and Europa League qualification: Who can make it?
Leicester, Chelsea, Manchester United, Wolves, Sheffield United, Arsenal, Tottenham, Burnley and Everton dreaming of European football
Last Updated: 04/07/20 11:13am
The race to qualify for European football is heating up. But how can teams qualify and who can make it?
With some intriguing fixtures coming up this weekend, the pursuit of qualifying places could be given a shake up. Leicester must stop their slide at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday (kick-off 3pm), Wolves and Arsenal (5.30pm) meet in what could be a highly significant clash later that day, before Chelsea look to get back on track against Watford (8pm) when they round off the triple-header on Sky Sports.
Leicester vs C Palace
July 4, 2020, 2:30pm
Then on Sunday we will show you whether Sheffield United can build on their win over Tottenham at Burnley (12pm), before Tottenham and Everton look to boost their European hopes in their Monday Night Football clash (8pm).
Wolves vs Arsenal
July 4, 2020, 5:15pm
Chelsea vs Watford
July 4, 2020, 7:45pm
How European qualifying works...
Two teams have already booked their place in European competitions or their qualifying rounds - Liverpool as Premier League winners and Manchester City as Carabao Cup winners, pending the outcome of their appeal against a UEFA ban - but there is still plenty of competition for places.
Burnley vs Sheff Utd
July 5, 2020, 11:30am
- CAS to decide Man City case in July
- Football calendar - all the new dates
- £18 Premier League and Football channel offer
Here's how qualification works for the Champions League and Europa League, why the FA Cup and Carabao Cup matter and how Man City's two-year ban from European competition could further change the picture.
Tottenham vs Everton
July 6, 2020, 7:30pm
Champions League qualification
In a regular season, the top four teams in the Premier League qualify for the group stages of the Champions League. Those days of Champions League qualifiers for finishing third and fourth have gone.
Next season is set to look very different, however.
With City set to be absent from European competition for the next two seasons, pending the outcome of their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, finishing fifth could be enough to secure a place in the Champions League next season, given Pep Guardiola's side are almost certain to finish in the top four.
Winning the Champions League or Europa League also guarantees a place in the group stages, with Liverpool and Chelsea having done so last season. Despite mixed results in the first legs of their knockout ties, Chelsea, Manchester United and Wolves are still in the hunt in those competitions.
Holders Liverpool were knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid just before the suspension of football, but have already booked their place in next season's competition as Premier League champions.
Europa League qualification
There are three ways to qualify for the Europa League:
- Finish fifth (or sixth if City's ban is upheld) - qualify for the Europa League group stage
- Win the FA Cup - qualify for the Europa League group stage
- Win the Carabao Cup - qualify for the Europa League second qualifying round
If the winners of the FA Cup and Carabao Cup finish fifth or higher in the Premier League, their Europa League spots go to the next-highest ranked team not qualified for UEFA competitions in the Premier League.
For example, last season, Manchester City won both cups and the Premier League. Therefore, their spot in the group stage from the FA Cup victory was given to Manchester United - who finished in sixth - and seventh place Wolves entered into the second qualifying round.
Manchester City's Carabao Cup win this term is good news for the European-football chasers. Because they're set to finish in the top five, their place in the second qualifying round of the Europa League transfers to the next highest-placed side. If City's appeal is successful, this would be sixth but if not it will be the side that finishes seventh in 2019/20.
The FA Cup is down to the final four - Man City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal - and fans of European hopefuls should follow the action there closely, too.
Should City or a team in the top five also win the FA Cup, and City's ban is upheld, the Europa League second-round qualifying spot will drop to the team who finishes eighth - with the sixth-placed team taking the second available group stage place.
Who is in the mix?
If we consider the possibility that those who finish in the top eight could secure a place in Europe next season, then there is hope for a huge number of Premier League teams...
Leicester - Brendan Rodgers' side are winless since the Premier League restart but, based on league position, are the best-placed team to qualify for the Champions League in third. With European rivals Sheffield United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United to come, they will need to rediscover that winning touch.
Chelsea - The Blues had hit a purple patch of form and been unbeaten in six games in all competitions either side of the football suspension but a surprise defeat at West Ham means they're looking over their shoulder. They have a decent run of Premier League fixtures and are also in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, playing Manchester United in July. Chelsea do have the Champions League route too, with a last-16 tie against Bayern Munich to complete, although they did lose the first leg 3-0 at Stamford Bridge in February.
Manchester United - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have the easiest Premier League run of the European contenders, mostly playing teams in the bottom half with only Leicester on the final day placed above them. They have two other routes to Europe too, with an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea and the Europa League where they are in pole position against Linz ASK in the last 16 after a 5-0 away victory in the first leg.
Wolves - It's not the easiest of Premier League run-ins for Wolves with Arsenal and Sheffield United among the fixtures plus a final day trip to Chelsea that could end up being a straight shoot out for a Champions League place. Nuno Espirito Santo's side have been impressive since the restart - winning and keeping clean sheets in all three games - and are still in Europa League contention, with a home tie against Olympiakos to come following a 1-1 away draw in the first leg.
Sheffield United - This season's surprise package, Sheffield United had a tough return to football but a much-needed win over Tottenham has reignited their European dreams. Their remaining fixtures include Wolves, Leicester and Chelsea, so there is a chance to reel in the teams above them.
Arsenal - After a rocky restart, the Gunners have won their last three games in all competitions as their hunt for a European place goes on. They are six points off fifth with Liverpool, Wolves, Leicester and Tottenham still to play. They are still in the FA Cup route and were drawn with Man City in the semi-finals, who recently beat Arsenal 3-0 in their first game back.
Tottenham - Spurs are seven points from fifth place, but seventh has been enough to secure a Europa League place in the last five seasons and could take them even further this season. The Premier League will be their only route into Europe, having already been knocked out of the Champions League by RB Leipzig, and have Sheffield United, Everton, Arsenal and Leicester to come.
Also in the hunt - Burnley are level on points with Tottenham in 10th after back-to-back wins over Crystal Palace and Watford, while consecutive wins for Everton has improved their outlook too, with the Toffees just two points
Why fourth or fifth may not guarantee a Champions League place...
Could there be a further twist?
Should the winners of the Champions League and Europa League both come from England - as they did last season - are not Manchester City and both finish outside the top four (or five if City are banned), the team finishing in the lowest-ranked Champions League qualifying place would drop into the Europa League, with the winning of a European competition taking precedence over a league finish.
Were, for example, Wolves to win the Europa League and Chelsea the Champions League - with neither finishing inside the top four or five, the side finishing fourth or fifth (depending on City's appeal) would miss out on playing in the elite club competition next season.
Who has already qualified?
Champions League - Liverpool
Europa League - Manchester City*
*second qualifying round, pending appeal