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Will fifth in EPL qualify for Champions League? How Liverpool could help Man Utd

  /  autty

The Champions League will be revamped for next season with 36 clubs taking part - four more than usual - and that could increase English participation.

Of the additional four, two of those places will go to the leagues who have performed the best across all three European competitions this season. It all comes down to coefficient points - effectively UEFA's way of determining which leagues are doing the best across all their tournaments.

Points are handed out for wins and draws, effectively pitting the leagues against each other, and the picture will change again this week with the knockout stages in the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League all beginning. The more teams your country has doesn't necessarily increase your ranking though, as it is determined on averages.

For example, the Czech Republic, whilst their clubs aren't perhaps considered the most competitive, have an average of 12 points and sit fifth in this season's coefficient - above the likes of France. The Czech clubs only have 48 points, but that is split between four teams. Ligue 1 clubs might have racked up 69.5 points, but that's split between six teams, giving them an average of 11.5 points.

This year England began with eight teams in European football - four in the Champions League, three in the Europa League and one in the Europa Conference League. That is now down to six with Newcastle United and Manchester United getting dumped out of the top tier competition.

However, as explained previously, English teams have actually amassed more points that their rivals from Italy and Germany. (England 109, Italy 98, Germany 95.5). However there were only seven teams from Italy and Germany competing, so once you do the average per team they sit higher than the English.

England have six teams in the knockout round, Italy have six and Germany seven. Each nation will fancy themselves to rack up sufficient coefficient points to put them in the top two spots required to land an extra team in the Champions League

The curve ball

One issue is that some teams - albeit not the English ones - will play the knockout playoff round in the Europa League and the Europa Conference League this week and next. It means points can be added to the national association score, but not every club gets that chance.

So while you gain more bonus points for winning a group - something Liverpool, West Ham and Brighton did in the Europa League, and Aston Villa did in the Conference League - rather than finishing second, the runners-up are capable of adding greater points because they will feature in the knockout playoff round, whilst all group winners go straight into the last 16.

To make it real, Europa League group winners get four bonus points, and the runners-up get two bonus points. But the runners-up play in the knockout playoff round with an additional four points available through the results of each leg, if they win both matches.

Ties to watch out for

English teams, especially in the Champions League, will be chuffed with their ties. Not least because they've avoided their rivals. Arsenal take on Porto with defending European champions City facing Danish side Copenhagen.

Italy, Germany and Spain - who are the three main threats to the England teams - have found themselves facing each other, which could see them taking coefficient points off each other. Inter Milan take on Atletico Madrid, Napoli face Barcelona, RB Leipzig will be against Real Madrid and Lazio have been drawn against Bayern Munich.

French teams could also make some major inroads over the next fortnight or so, largely because they have four of their six teams in the knockout playoff round. Lens, Marseille, Rennes and Toulouse are all in action with PSG and Lille already into the last 16 of their respective tournaments.

England's hopes

The Premier League table currently looks to be three into one for the top four. City, Liverpool and Arsenal look to have separated themselves from the chasing pack. It leaves Tottenham, who sit in fourth, looking to hold off Manchester United and Aston Villa.

But it is the fifth spot that could prove crucial. Champions League is crucial for United whilst it would be massive for Villa's development. Work still needs to be done by the English teams in Europe if they are to jump up a spot in the coefficient rankings.

City will be fancied to go far and potentially defend their title. But it is in the other two tournaments that the Premier League sides could really make inroads. With the bookies City, Liverpool and Villa are the favourites to win their respective competitions, which would mean an English clean sweep. If that happens, a fifth team from England will almost certainly be in the Champions League.