What Man United, Ajax winning Europa means for Champions League places
The winners of the Europa League qualify, by right, for the Champions League playoff round.
However, as the winners of the Champions League -- which will be Juventus or Real Madrid -- have already qualified for the group stage via their league position, the spot for the holders is free. And this means the team that lifts the Europa League will be elevated directly into the Champions League group stage.
Depending on who wins the Europa League, this could be good news for Nice.
They have finish second in the Eredivisie, which puts them into the third qualifying round of the Champions League.
If Ajax win Europa League:
- odd number of teams left in Champions League third qualifying round (9)
- Nice (finished third in Ligue 1) promoted from third qualifying round to final qualifying round to produce even numbers in third qualifying round
- 8 teams in third qualifying round, the four winners joining six teams who enter in final qualifying round
- The Netherlands has two teams in the UCL, Feyenoord and Ajax, both in the group stage
Manchester United winning the Europa League will change little to Champions League access.
If Man United win Europa League:
- United go to Champions League group stage.
- There is no change to the usual allocation of top three to group stage and fourth to final qualifying round from the Premier League, so England will have 5 teams in the competition
- Unlike in past seasons, Manchester United winning the UCL would not rob fourth place of their UCL berth
- England has just two teams in the Europa League - fifth or sixth (to the group stage), plus Everton
- Everton are guaranteed to be in the third qualifying round. Man United moving up to the Champions League would not elevate them to the Europa League group stage
Dale Johnson has been an editor and journalist at ESPN for 18 years. You can follow him on Twitter @dalejohnsonESPN.