Premier League clubs guaranteed best season in Champions League, Europa
The Premier League is guaranteed to have its best-ever collective season in European competition -- regardless of how Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City perform over the final rounds.
England's best display by all teams previously came in 2010-11, when Manchester United lost to Barcelona in the Champions League final. The UEFA coefficient score for that campaign was 18.357, and this season the Premier League is already on 18.214. With Liverpool and Manchester City meeting in the UCL, the final tally will be a minimum of 18.928 after the quarterfinal ties.
Despite that, English clubs' greatest season is quite rightly always spoken of as 2007-08, when it had four Champions League quarterfinalists, three semifinalists, and Manchester United beat Chelsea in the final.
But the overall performance that season -- the coefficient score was 17.875 -- was diluted by eight English teams being in Europe, after Blackburn Rovers came through the InterToto Cup and failed to make the group stage of the UEFA Cup. No English team made it past the round of 16 in the UEFA Cup too.
England currently has the best-performing league this season, but with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid still looking very strong in Europe it could be that Spain secures its place at the top of the performance list for a fifth consecutive season. Only the Bundesliga, by a fraction in 2012-13, has kept Spain off the top since 2011-12.
The Premier League at one stage looked in danger of dropping down to fourth in the UEFA coefficient table, which prior to the change in the rules would have cost it a UCL place, but now it is appears certain to climb back up to second, nearly 30 points behind Spain which is guaranteed to remain top for many seasons.
Germany, however, has suffered a terrible season and is enduring its worst performance in Europe since 2006-07. Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig could still rescue some pride, but the Bundesliga will drop from second to fourth and would definitely have lost a place in the UCL but for the switch to four places for the top four leagues. Luckily for Germany, the French and Russian leagues are some considerable way back and there is no chance it will lose a berth in the near future.
How the UEFA co-efficient works
A league's UEFA coefficient score is calculated by dividing points gained by the number of teams from each country. It's two coefficient points for a win, one for a draw while there is also a bonus points system.
With seven teams each, a win is worth 0.286 points to a nation, and with eight it's 0.250 -- and this differential adds up over the course of a season.
A look at total Champions League points gained highlights how having eight teams in Europe rather than seven affected the score in 2007-08:
2007-08: 97 points - worth 12.125 to the coefficient score
2010-11: 97 points - worth 13.857
2017-18: 92 points (minimum) - worth 13.142
So one extra team in Europe cost 1.732 against the coefficient score, and would actually have given England 20.089 in 2007-08. But that is still far way from Spain's recent performance, with La Liga clubs getting a collective score above that in each of the last four seasons, and in 2011-12 too. Spain's incredible 23.928 in 2015-16 remains the best-ever recorded by a league.
English clubs also won 43 games in competition proper in 2007-08, compared with 32 in 2010 and 31 so far this season. And the number of loses is fewer too, with 11 in 2007-08 and 13 in the later two seasons.
Dale Johnson has been an editor and journalist at ESPN for 18 years. You can follow him on Twitter @dalejohnsonESPN.