Bundesliga, Serie A in pole position for extra UCL places as Premier League drops away


Two leagues will be rewarded with extra places in next season’s Champions League as part of the revamp to expand it to a 36-team competition — but who is likely to benefit?

Four additional clubs will qualify compared to the current format. And two of those places will go to the leagues which perform best across all three European competitions this season.

With the group stages of the Champions League (UCL), Europa League (UEL) and Europa Conference League (UECL) drawing to a close this week, we’ll start to get a clear picture of which leagues could get the two places.

This article will be updated throughout the season to track the race for the extra spots.

How does it work?

It’s about the best average coefficient of all teams taking part in Europe for each country.

Each win is worth two coefficient points, a draw gets you one, and you get nothing for a defeat.

There are also bonus points for getting to certain stages, which helps gives extra prominence to those teams who do well in the higher-profile competitions.

Champions League bonus points
4 – Group stage participation
5 – Round of 16
1 – QF, SF, final

Europa League bonus points
4 – Group winners
2 – Group runners-up
1 – Round of 16, QF, SF, final

Europa Conference League bonus points
2 – Group winners
1 – Group runners-up
1 – SF, final

The points gained by all clubs are added together, and that total score is divided by the number of clubs a country has in Europe. That gives the coefficient average.

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So wins aren’t worth more in the Champions League?

No, the coefficient system is designed to assess the overall strength of leagues. Wins are the same in all competitions, otherwise it would be impossible for those leagues with few or no teams in the UCL group stage to move up the coefficient ranking.

The bonus points serve two purposes. Firstly, to give weight to the strength of the competitions on a sliding scale, and second to provide points to those teams taking part in the UCL who might get few positive results.

In fact, it could be argued that it’s better for leagues to have some teams drop down into the UEL for the knockout rounds. Bonus points might be lower in the UEL, but each two-legged tie has five points up for grabs (four for the result and one for progressing to the next round.) If a team stays in the UCL, they might not get past the round of 16 and have little chance of adding to the country’s coefficient through wins.

Won’t this just turn out to be extra places for two top leagues?

If we look back at the previous five seasons, England and Spain take seven of the 10 slots, with Italy and Germany one each. Only in 2021-22 did one of the countries with fewer than four teams in the Champions League (the Netherlands) finish in the top two of average co-efficient.

So yes, history tells us that it’s highly likely two of the top leagues will have five places in next season’s Champions League.

2022-23: England and Italy
2021-22: England and the Netherlands
2020-21: England and Spain
2019-20: Spain and Germany
2018-19: England and Spain

Right, so who’s in contention this season?

After the end of the Champions League group stage games, and taking into account bonus points for those clubs who have already booked places in the round of 16, this is the top 10.

1. Germany, 13.36
2. Italy, 13.14
3. England, 12.13
4. Spain, 12.06
5. France, 10.42
6. Belgium, 10.20
7. Czechia, 9.25
8. Turkey, 9.00
9. Denmark, 8.50
10. Netherlands, 8.20

Realistically, the race for two extra places is going to be between the top four — Germany, England, Italy and Spain … the four leagues which already get four places in the competition.

We can’t completely rule out France, so that will be one to keep an eye on.

What’s the state of play?

A league needs to keep as many teams as possible still active in the knockout rounds. By then, results are harder to come by as the fixtures become more difficult. The fewer teams in European competition, the less chance there is to compete for the top two.

It’s even more important for England and Spain, who started with eight teams in Europe so each win is worth slightly less to the coefficient (as it gets divided by eight rather than seven.)

1. GERMANY, 13.36

Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig have secured safe passage and bonus points for progressing in the UCL. Union Berlin, however, have been eliminated from Europe.

Bayer Leverkusen are straight through to the round of 16 of the UEL, though SC Freiburg may have to play in the knockout playoff round (another name for the round of 32) if they don’t win their group.

Eintracht Frankfurt will be in the knockout playoff round of the UECL.

Advanced to round of 16: 4
Advanced, stage TBC: 2
Out: 1

The Bundesliga has six of its seven clubs still in European competition next year, though having three teams in the Champions League might actually be a negative for getting more coefficient points.

2. ITALY, 13.14

Internazionale, Lazio and Napoli have booked their place in the UCL round of 16. AC Milan won away to Newcastle to drop into the Europa League.

AS Roma and Atalanta are both through in the UEL, though the former could face the playoff round.

Fiorentina are also through in the UECL and need a point away to Ferencváros to top the group.

Advanced to round of 16: 3
Advanced to knockout playoff round: 1
Advanced, stage TBC: 3

Serie A will have all seven clubs through, which came at the expense of a Premier League team in Newcastle. That could prove crucial.

Like the Bundesliga, having so many teams still in the Champions League may be a hinderance rather than a help.

3. ENGLAND, 12.13

Arsenal and Manchester City are both through as group winners in the UCL, but Manchester United and Newcastle United were knocked out completely.

Brighton, Liverpool and West Ham United are all through in the UEL, though only Jurgen Klopp’s men are certain of avoiding the playoff round.

In the UECL, Aston Villa are through and must avoid defeat away to Zrinjski Mostar to be sure of topping the group.

Advanced to round of 16: 3
Advanced, stage TBC: 3
Out: 2

The Premier League has dropped to third place after two teams failed in the Champions League. It makes it really hard to make the top two now.

4. SPAIN, 12.06

Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Real Sociedad are all through in the UCL, but Sevilla are out of Europe completely after losing at Lens on the final day.

In the UEL, Real Betis could win the group or drop into the UECL but are sure of continuing, while Villarreal must win away to Stade Rennais to avoid the playoff round.

Osasuna failed to qualify for the Europa Conference League group stage.

Advanced to round of 16: 4
Advanced, stage TBC: 2
Out: 2

Even though LaLiga has four teams through in the Champions League, armed with 16 points bonus points, Osasuna’s failure in qualifying has severely affected their hopes of making the top two.

The loss of Sevilla, who finished bottom of their UCL group, is a further blow. That said, they are going to have six clubs still in action in the New Year which means they cannot be ruled out.

Which teams would get the extra places?

Right now, Borussia Dortmund are fifth in the Bundesliga, with Bologna holding that spot in Serie A.

So what’s still important this week?

Watch out for those bonus points, as final league positions are going to be important. Winning a Europa League group gets two bonus points, plus an additional one for taking part of the round of 16, and it could make a big difference — especially as group runners-up must face a team that has dropped down from the Champions League in the UEL knockout playoff round. West Ham host Freiburg with top spot at stake, both are through but the Hammers need at least a draw to claim the extra bonus points.

So, if one league manages to get several teams winning their UEL and UECL groups, it could create a crucial buffer.

Anything else?

Yes! The draw for the round of 16 of the UCL and the knockout playoff rounds of the UEL and UECL take place on Monday.

The draw will no doubt throw up some head-to-head ties among the top four nations which will prove key, and the strength of opponents will also be important going forward.

Champions League draw: Seedings, date, details

Who gets the extra place?

If we assume the extra spots will go to one of the top leagues, it means fifth place will enter the Champions League and it will have eight (rather than seven) places in Europe. Other European berths drop down a place.

If the Premier League gets it, the access will be:

Champions League: 1-5
Europa League: 6, FA Cup winners
Europa Conference League: Carabao Cup winners

If the cup winners finish in the top 6, the European places could drop to 7th and 8th in the table.

As Germany, Italy and Spain only have one cup competition, seventh would enter the UECL.

If a team wins the UEL but doesn’t qualify for the UCL domestically, that league could have six places in the UCL — the five places to the leagues plus the UEL titleholders as an additional.



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