We use numbers from the Opta supercomputer’s projections to work out whether the Premier League will be granted a fifth place in next season’s UEFA Champions League.


From the start of the 2024-25 season, the Champions League takes on a new format. At this stage you don’t really need to know the ins and outs of that new format, but there is one fairly major implication for the teams battling at the top end of the Premier League.

The number of teams competing in the Champions League will increase from the traditional 32 to 36, meaning four extra spots are up for grabs across Europe. Two of those are given to the associations with the best collective performance in European competition this season.

So, the two countries whose clubs fare best in Europe in 2023-24 will earn an extra spot in the Champions League in 2024-25 – this is calculated via a points system, where points are earned for each association by their clubs progressing through European competitions. (Have a look here for a more detailed look at UEFA coefficients, what they mean for next season’s Champions League, and how the other two extra slots are awarded.)

What that means is, for the first time, the team that finishes fifth in the Premier League could qualify for the Champions League.

Of course, this won’t be decided for certain until the end of the season. Until that time comes, we can use the Opta supercomputer‘s season projections for each European competition to work out the chances of the Premier League’s contingent earning that extra spot. We use these projections to find an expected points (xPts) total for each association in the UEFA coefficients ranking, which then tells us how likely each nation is to earn an extra spot in next season’s Champions League.

So, which two leagues will win the race? Is it time for Manchester United fans to start supporting Manchester City in European fixtures? And for Tottenham fans to start following Arsenal’s campaign on the continent?

This page will be updated on a regular basis – after European fixtures have taken place as the results will affect the chances of each team winning each competition – to chart each nation’s likelihood of finishing 2023-24 as one of the two best-performing associations.

12 April

The first leg of the quarter-finals in Europe’s three competitions came and went in a frenzied blur this week. So much happened that it’s hard to know where to start, but the headline story is this: it was a very bad week for England in their battle to hold onto one of the two bonus Champions League tickets.

And that’s because Liverpool – strong favourites for the Europa League with both the bookmakers and the Opta supercomputer – suffered a shock 3-0 home defeat against Atalanta. We’ve seen Liverpool do it before in Europe, but they’ll need a minor miracle to avoid being knocked out of the Europa League in Bergamo next week.

In the same competition, West Ham lost 2-0 away at Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen, and they too will need a massive performance to turn things around in London. Those results mean England will likely lose two of its remaining five teams from European competition this term.

Arsenal also didn’t do England much good with a 2-2 home draw against Bayern Munich. The Gunners were favoured by most to progress from that tie, but were uncharacteristically open at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night and are now slight underdogs to progress.

Those results mean that England’s chances of earning an extra Champions League place have crashed from 82.5% to 57.8%, a drop of almost 25%.

Champions League Bonus Ticket - UEFA Coefficients

Italy strengthened their hold on earning one of those bonus spots. With two of Atalanta, Milan and Roma almost guaranteed to make the Europa League semi-finals, and Fiorentina likely to do the same in the Europa Conference League, Italy now have a 99.8% chance of locking in one of those bonus UCL spots.

Germany were the biggest winners from the quarter-final first legs, though. Their odds of landing an extra Champions League place rose dramatically from 19.2% to 41.8%. Germany now sit level with England on the total number of coefficient points won. As well as Leverkusen doing the business against West Ham, both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich are still very much in their ties in the Champions League.

Bayern and Arsenal’s second leg is a huge contest for many reasons, but perhaps the most understated one is that it could be the difference between fifth place in the Premier League counting as an extra Champions League spot, or fifth place in the Bundesliga.

15 March

We are down to the last eight in each of Europe’s three competitions, and after Friday’s draws were completed, we now know exactly how difficult each team’s potential route to glory is.

The identity of the final 24 teams has affected the chances of each association earning an extra spot in next season’s Champions League, but so have the draws. And in quite a significant way.

Before the draw was made on Friday morning, a positive week had seen England’s chances of earning an extra Champions League place shoot up to 82.5% from 64.9% last week.

Germany’s chances had dropped from 29.5% to 19.2% after Freiburg were knocked out of the Europa League by West Ham, while Italy’s chances had dropped slightly from 96.7% last week to 94.9% after Napoli and last season’s finalists, Inter, crashed out of the Champions League.

Then came a tough draw for the Premier League contingent, and England’s hopes of gaining a fifth Champions League spot took a real hit.

With Arsenal drawn against heavyweights Bayern Munich and Manchester City to face European juggernauts Real Madrid, both will need to be at their best to make it through to the semis. Another blow for England’s coefficient hopes is the fact that the winners of those two ties will face each other, so only one of England’s two remaining competitors can make it to the Champions League final.

Liverpool and West Ham were kept apart in the Europa League draw and could in theory meet in the final. However, while Liverpool may be pleased to have been drawn against Atalanta, West Ham face a real test as they were handed a tie with Bayer Leverkusen. Xabi Alonso’s side are, incredibly, still unbeaten across all competitions this season.

Aston Villa were also given a potentially tricky Europa Conference League draw, as they’ll face Lille and then the winners of Olympiacos vs Fenerbahce.

It all means that England’s chances of getting an extra spot in next season’s Champions League dropped to 70.6% after the draw.

battle for Champions League bonus ticket

Italy’s chances crept back up to 96.9% with one of Milan and Roma now guaranteed to be in the semi-final of the Europa League and Fiorentina given a favourable draw in the Conference League. They face Viktoria Plzen in their quarter-final and then could play Club Brugge or PAOK in the semis. For them, avoiding Aston Villa was a big bonus.

Germany’s chances shot back up to 29.1%, with Leverkusen likely to fancy their chances against West Ham, and Borussia Dortmund in with a decent shot of making the Champions League final as they are on the opposite side of the draw to the majority of the big sides. They face Atlético Madrid in the quarters and then potentially the winner of PSG vs Barcelona in the semis.

PSG are now deemed to be the second-likeliest team to win the Champions League after the draw they were given, with France now at 3.5% in terms of chances of earning a fifth spot in next season’s competition.

Spain still have an almost negligible chance according to our model, despite boasting three teams still in the Champions League.

The reason they have such a low chance is that five of their eight competing teams have all been knocked out. Osasuna crashed out of the Conference League in the play-off round, while Sevilla and Real Betis didn’t make it through their respective group-stage campaigns, and Real Sociedad and Villarreal failed to make it through the first knockout round. The average performance of their eight participants has been very poor indeed, and they ‘only’ have teams left in one competition. They need a winner, but winning the Champions League is much easier said than done. Even that is very, very unlikely to be enough.

8 March

This week brought half a round of Champions League football as well as the return of the Europa League and Europa Conference League in full. The headline when it comes to rounding up the race for an extra Champions League spot is simple: it was a bad week for England.

Using our projections for each competition, England’s chances of gaining an extra place plummeted from 81.9% after the last round of fixtures to 64.9% on Friday 8 March.

battle for Champions League bonus ticket

Brighton were as good as eliminated from the Europa League by Roma on Thursday, and that will have played a part in England’s chances dropping so much. After the first leg of their round-of-16 tie ended in a 4-0 defeat in Rome, Brighton need a miracle if they are to progress.

roma 4-0 brighton stats

But there was a 1-0 defeat for West Ham at Freiburg that will have also damaged England’s chances, while Aston Villa’s goalless draw at Ajax leaves that tie in the balance. Meanwhile, positive results for Manchester City, who progressed past FC Copenhagen, and Liverpool, who thrashed Sparta Prague, won’t have been enough to counteract the impact of any poor results for English teams, largely because the supercomputer expected them to win those ties comfortably.

But England’s chances haven’t dropped only because Premier League teams had what was overall a disappointing week in Europe. Italian teams also won four and drew one of their six European ties with Lazio, who fell to defeat to Bayern Munich and crashed out of the Champions League, the only exception.

Italy’s chances of earning a fifth Champions League spot jumped from 91% to 96.7%. The supercomputer essentially thinks it would take a complete capitulation in Europe for Italian teams to fail to get another spot in Europe’s biggest competition next season.

The Bayern and Freiburg results meant it was two wins and a draw (for Bayer Leverkusen) from three European games for German teams. Germany’s chances of getting another Champions League berth therefore rose from 22.1% to 29.5%. With Borussia Dortmund backed to edge past PSV Eindhoven in next week’s Champions League round-of-16 tie, it could be four from four for German teams making it through to the next round of their respective competitions.

It was even a good week for French teams. PSG saw off Real Sociedad in the Champions League, while Marseille (4-0 victors over Villarreal in the Europa League) and Lille (3-0 winners at Sturm Graz in the Europa Conference League) built up what should be unassailable first-leg leads. France went from a 3.1% chance of getting a fifth Champions League place before this week’s fixtures to an 8.8% chance.

The Premier League teams battling it out for fifth place this season will need their English counterparts to improve next week.

23 February

Following the completion of the first legs of the Champions League round of 16 and the draws for the first knockout round in the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League (full draw at the bottom of this page), Italy are in pole position to earn an extra spot.

With seven teams still competing in Europe, Italy is in with a chance of a clean sweep across the three continental competitions. Positive results in the Champions League for Lazio (1-0 victors over Bayern Munich), Inter Milan (who beat Atlético Madrid 1-0) and Napoli (who came from behind to draw 1-1 with Barcelona) will have aided the Italian cause.

Meanwhile, Milan will fancy their chances of seeing off Slavia Prague in the Europa League last 16. Roma, Atalanta and Fiorentina were all given tougher draws, but have every chance of progressing. Italy are given a 91% probability of finishing in the top two and earning an extra Champions League spot for next season.

uefa coefficients race for champions league extra places

Fear not, Premier League fans! England aren’t far behind at all. The Premier League has an 81.9% chance of being one of the two best-performing European nations according to the Opta supercomputer’s projections – even after some disappointment in the Champions League this week.

Manchester City put one foot in the quarter-finals with a 3-1 win at FC Copenhagen, but they had largely been expected to do so, meaning that victory won’t have changed their chances of winning the competition much. Arsenal’s defeat at Porto, however, was rather less foreseen, and England will need them to overturn that deficit in the return leg to keep their position in the standings. With Man Utd and Newcastle already having crashed out in the group stage, there is more pressure on Arsenal to perform.

UEFA Champions League predictions

That said, England boast the favourite to win each of Europe’s three continental competitions in Man City (33.6% chance of winning the Champions League), Liverpool (32.3%, Europa League) and Aston Villa (29.2%, Europa Conference League). As long as those three remain in their respective competitions, England should have a decent chance of earning an extra spot in next season’s Champions League. Villa’s potential banana skin of a draw against Ajax in the Conference League could be one to watch, though.

Germany‘s chances took a big hit with none of their three Champions League hopefuls winning their first leg – including Bayern’s shock defeat to Lazio – while Freiburg got a tough Europa Conference League draw against West Ham. Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen may carry their biggest European hope, with Xabi Alonso’s impressive side having been drawn against Qarabag in the Europa League last 16. Germany have just a 22.1% chance of earning an extra Champions League spot as things stand.

France (3.1%) are next in the standings, followed by surprise entrants Czechia (1.1%), who still have three teams battling in Europe, Spain (0.6%), for whom Real Madrid appear to be the only hope of success, and Belgium (0.1%).

UEFA Europa League Last-16 Draw

  • Sparta Prague vs Liverpool
  • Marseille vs Villarreal
  • Roma vs Brighton
  • Benfica vs Rangers
  • Freiburg vs West Ham
  • Sporting CP vs Atalanta
  • AC Milan vs Slavia Prague
  • Qarabag vs Bayer Leverkusen
UEFA Europa League predictions

UEFA Europa Conference League Last-16 Draw

  • Servette vs Viktoria Plzen
  • Ajax vs Aston Villa
  • Molde vs Club Brugge
  • Union SG vs Fenerbahçe
  • Dinamo Zagreb vs PAOK
  • Sturm Graz vs LOSC Lille
  • Maccabi Haifa vs Fiorentina
  • Olympiacos vs Maccabi Tel Aviv
UEFA Europa conference league predictions

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