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Qualifying for Europe: A Breakdown of the Various Scenarios for Premier League Clubs

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Qualifying for Europe: A Breakdown of the Various Scenarios for Premier League Clubs by : 7:21 am On May 7, 2019

Although this season’s top six in the Premier League is all but confirmed, there are still a number of questions to be answered in terms of European qualification.

It’s that time of the year where fans ponder over the seemingly infinite ramifications of cup finals and league positions for Premier League outfits, with the outcome of the FA Cup, Carabao Cup, Europa League and Champions League finals all potentially impacting a number of clubs.

​Manchester City, ​Liverpool,​ Chelsea,​ Tottenham, ​Arsenal and ​Manchester United are all guaranteed to play on the continent next season, with ​Wolves and ​Watford also still hoping to embark on a European tour.

Watford v Wolverhampton Wanderers - FA Cup Semi Final

Here’s a breakdown of how each tournament could impact English clubs’ qualification for next season’s competitions.

‘If they win the cup, then we go into that, but then if they win it, then we still go into that but earlier than we would have if they had won it, had we not finished there in the league. Sorted.’

We’ll start with the easy part.

Each team who finishes in the ​Premier League top four (normally) qualifies for the ​Champions League group stages, while the team in fifth place and the FA Cup winners qualify for the Europa League group stages.

The winners of the Carabao Cup also qualify for the Europa League, entering the competition at the second qualifying round.

But…

If the FA Cup and/or Carabao Cup winners have already qualified for Europe through their league position, this creates a few other possible scenarios.

The Carabao Cup Winners

FBL-ENG-LCUP-MAN CITY-CHELSEA

This season’s winners were Manchester City, who have already qualified for the Champions League, which hands this particular Europa League qualification spot to sixth place in the Premier League. So Manchester United go into next season’s Europa League group stage.

Unless…

The FA Cup Winners

Watford v Crystal Palace - FA Cup Quarter Final

Watford and Man City will contest this year’s final. If the Hornets lift the trophy, they’ve got a ticket straight to the Europa League group stages no matter what.

This would also mean the team in sixth place in the Premier League – Man Utd – no longer enter at the group stage and must go through the qualifiers, which start on July 25. Brutal.

However, if City win, the qualifying spot goes to seventh place in the Premier League.

So Wolves fans, you’re supporting Man City.

United fans… you’re also supporting Man City.

Until 2015, Watford could have qualified by losing the final since Man City already have a Champions League spot – Stoke City and Hull City both benefited from this rule – but that is no longer the case.

The Champions League Winners

FBL-EUR-C1-DRAW

Neither Liverpool nor Tottenham are in a strong position to reach the Champions League final, but anything is possible so it’s best to be prepared.

Since 2005, the winners of the Champions League secure an automatic pass to next season’s group stage, regardless of their league position.

So in the unlikely event that Spurs finish outside the top four in the Premier League, they would still qualify for next season’s Champions League by lifting the trophy in Madrid, joining the Premier League top four in the group stage.

But since both Liverpool and Tottenham should finish in the top four, either team winning the Champions League would limit the number of English clubs to four and hand the ‘extra’ spot to the winners of the Austrian League.

Chelsea's players celebrate after the UE

The possibility of having five English clubs in the tournament only came into play this season. Spurs fans will remember they missed out on Champions League football in 2012, despite finishing fourth, due to Chelsea finishing sixth but winning the tournament.

Under the current rules, Spurs and Chelsea would both have qualified. Unlucky, Harry Redknapp.

The Europa League Winners

Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Super Cup

Arsenal and Chelsea are both in with a shout of lifting the Europa League at the end of the month in Azerbaijan. The winners will automatically qualify for the Champions League group stages.

As the Gunners are due to finish outside the top four, winning the Europa League is their only hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League. Much like the FA Cup, there is no qualification spot for the beaten finalists.

Chelsea have already qualified for the Champions League through their league position, so if the Blues win the Europa League, only four English clubs will be in the Champions League next season and the ‘extra’ group stage spot goes to the third-placed team in France’s Ligue 1.

There’s also a few complicated scenarios that crop up if English teams who finish outside the top four win both the Champions League and Europa League, but that’s not possible this season, so we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

That’s enough for a Monday afternoon. Cheers, UEFA.

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