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Why Premier League is now at risk of missing out on fifth Champions League spot

The Premier League’s hopes of gaining an extra Champions League spot in next season’s revamped competition have been dealt a blow following a difficult week of results in Europe this week.

The Champions League is being expanded to a 36-team tournament from 2024/25 and two of the extra four places will be awarded to countries whose teams perform best in this season’s European competitions.

As confirmed by Uefa on their website, England sits third in the race, behind Italy and Germany, which would mean Serie A and the Bundesliga get a fifth Champions League place next season.

But the margin between England and Germany is incredibly tight following this week’s results - making next week’s second legs in the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League all the more crucial.

Liverpool’s shock defeat to Atalanta at Anfield and West Ham’s 2-0 loss at Bayer Leverkusen has suddenly opened up the possibility of there not being any English teams in the Europa League semi-finals.

While Aston Villa secured a 2-0 win over Lille in the Conference League quarter-finals, Arsenal and Manchester City require second-leg wins to reach the final four of the Champions League.

City will host Real Madrid at the Etihad following a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Bernabeu, while it looks tougher for Arsenal as they will need to get a result at Bayern Munich after a 2-2 draw against the German side at the Emirates.

The outcome of that tie could be decisive in the race between the Premier League and Bundesliga, as Arsenal could deny Germany if the Gunners knock out Bayern in Munich.

It means Tottenham may need to rely on strong performances from their north London rivals Arsenal if England is to earn a fifth spot in next season’s Champions League.

Spurs currently hold fourth place in the Premier League - the final automatic spot as things stand - they are level on points with Villa but have a game in hand on Unai Emery’s side. Manchester United are 11 points off fifth, but also have a game in hand on Villa.

Fifth place would guarantee entry to next season’s Champions League should England finish into the top two of this season’s Uefa club coefficient table. The standings are worked out by the total number of club coefficient points obtained by each club from an association divided by the number of clubs from that association.

 (Uefa)
(Uefa)

If applied last season, England would have finished in the top two along with the Netherlands. England’s coefficient was boosted by Manchester City winning the Champions League and West Ham winning the Europa Conference League.

This season, Italy are top with a score of 18.428, Germany are second on 16.785 and England are third on 16.750. Spain are next with 15.062.

Both Manchester United and Newcastle United crashed out of the Champions League group stages before Christmas but Manchester City and Arsenal made it through to quarter-finals. Germany also has two quarter-finalists, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund - who lost their first leg 2-1 at Atletico Madrid.

Germany have just one more team involved in Europe, Bayer Leverkusen, while England have three more clubs, Liverpool, West Ham and Aston Villa.

Meanwhile, Liverpool’s victory in the Carabao Cup final means seventh place will now carry entry to the Europa Conference League, assuming the Reds finish in the top four.