We are in mid-July and under normal circumstances, clubs across Europe would’ve started to prepare for the 2020-21 season after a rousing end to the 2019-20 campaign with a riveting Champions League Final. But in unprecedented times like these, top European clubs across Italy, Spain and England are still offering enthralling narratives in the quest for European spots.
With most leagues in their business end, the fight for a spot in next season’s Champions League or the Europa League is as tight as ever. With several clubs giving it their all to finish with maximum points at the end of the season, it’s time for all permutations and combinations to be put into effect. Here we’ll analyse which clubs across Italy, Spain and England still have a chance to taste European football next season.
SERIE A (Italy)
It looks like Juventus will go on to lift yet another Serie A title this season but it’s still not mathematically confirmed yet. However, the competition in the middle of the table is fiercer with several clubs fighting for European spots.
The top four teams in the Serie A qualify straight to Europe’s premier tournament, the UEFA Champions League. With an eleven-point gap between the fourth and fifth team in the table, it seems like the Champions League spots are more or less sealed and will feature Juventus, Atalanta, Lazio and Inter Milan next season.
But the race is way tighter for the UEFA Europa League spots. Usually, clubs finishing fifth and sixth in the table qualify for the Europa League with a third spot reserved for the Coppa Italia winner. In this case, Napoli have already sealed their spot after winning the Coppa Italia earlier in the season. At the same time, Napoli are sixth in the table at present and if they were to finish the season in the same position, seventh-placed AC Milan will get the chance to make a comeback to the Europa League after being banned from the competition for one year. Thus, AS Roma, Napoli and AC Milan seem to be the best bet to make it to Europe’s second-tier competition next season.
LA LIGA (Spain)
The battle for the La Liga trophy is finally over. Real Madrid have outclassed their arch-rival FC Barcelona and have managed to lift their 34th La Liga title. These two clubs are class apart and have booked their seats for Champions League football next season, but for the clubs below them, the tussle for the European spots is intense.
The top four teams from La Liga qualify for the subsequent season’s UEFA Champions League. Real Madrid and Barcelona have sealed their places while Sevilla and Atletico Madrid are neck-to-neck on points and are fighting for the third and the fourth spot. Remember, the fourth-placed team has to play the qualifying rounds of the Champions League.
The fifth and sixth-placed teams in the table qualify for the UEFA Europa League alongside the Copa del Rey winner. There are only six points separating the fifth-place Villareal and eighth-place Athletic Bilbao, and it seems likely that the places could be decided on the final day of the league. There’s also the Copa del Rey final between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao to be taken into consideration for these spots. Realistically, Villareal, Getafe, Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao are in contention for the Europa League spots for the next season.
PREMIER LEAGUE (England)
With Manchester City’s European ban overturned, they become the second team from England after Champions Liverpool to secure a place in next year’s UEFA Champions League. For the remaining two spots, it’s currently a three-way race between Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester United. Thus, we can all expect a blockbuster final day in the Premier League.
As far as the UEFA Europa League is concerned, clubs sitting fifth, sixth and seventh in the table can get the qualification spots. Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur, Sheffield United and Arsenal are currently in the race to grab these spots. However, there are other considerations in this race as well. The winner of the FA Cup will get a direct entry in the Europa League. Should Manchester City or a team in the top six win the FA Cup, the Europa League second-round qualifying spot will drop to the team who finishes seventh.
Another point to remember here is that the winner of the Champions League and the Europa League directly get an entry in the Champions League next season. Manchester City and Chelsea are still in the 2019-20 Champions League whereas Wolves and Manchester United are fighting in this year’s Europa League. In an unlikely scenario, if Wolves were to win the Europa League and Chelsea the Champions League, with neither finishing inside the top four or five, then the side finishing fourth would miss out on playing in the elite club competition next season.
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