Newcastle United’s fate remains firmly in their own hands when it comes to qualifying for the Champions League. The Magpies sit third in the table despite the home defeat to title challengers Arsenal in their last outing, and Eddie Howe’s side now know two victories from their final four matches would all but guarantee a top-four spot.
Liverpool have closed the gap with six straight victories, and now lie just three points adrift of Newcastle having played a game more. However, it is Manchester United who currently look most at risk of being leapfrogged by their rivals, with a dramatic midweek defeat at Brighton followed by another loss at West Ham on Sunday.
Manchester City and Arsenal’s place in next season’s competition has already been confirmed, and the former are in position to potentially land their first ever Champions League trophy. Pep Guardiola’s side earned a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid in their semi final first leg tie on Tuesday night, and know victory on home turf next week will book them a place in the final to face either AC Milan or Inter Milan.
But if City were to go on to lift the trophy on June 10 in Istanbul, how would it affect the Premier League’s other entrants into the competition? Guardiola’s side would automatically qualify for next season’s competition as winners, but unfortunately for Newcastle and their top-four rivals, this does not lead to the Premier League being awarded another qualifying spot.
In the event of City winning the Champions League, the spare qualification spot is actually transferred to the winners of the highest-ranked national league in the UEFA coefficient without an automatic group-stage qualifying spot. As it stands, Shakhtar Donetsk would be the beneficiaries as they lead the Ukrainian Premier League, and they would automatically earn a spot in the group stage.
A fifth-placed finish in the Premier League will remain a qualifying spot for the Europa League group stage. The Premier League can have five teams enter the Champions League, but this scenario requires the winners of the competition to finish outside of the top four.
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