What would the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League group stage look like if Europe’s major domestic leagues ended now? This is how things are shaping up.*
ESP: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid
GER:Bayern München, RB Leipzig, Hoffenheim
ENG: Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool
ITA: Juventus, Roma
POR: Benfica, Porto
FRA: Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain
RUS: Spartak Moskva
UKR: Shakhtar Donetsk
BOLD=will definitely qualify
While ten group stage berths will be decided via qualifying in the summer – and the winners of this season’s competition and the UEFA Europa League will also have an impact – these 21 teams would, as it stands, be assured of a UEFA Champions League place next term.
At the time of writing, only Bayern are absolutely guaranteed a group berth. Last weekend’s 4-1 win against Dortmund lifted them 18 points clear of their fourth-placed opponents with six games left. Since Dortmund still have to play Hoffenheim, who are a point ahead in third, it is impossible for both to overtake Bayern.
Behind, Bayern, Leipzig and Hoffenheim are on course for debuts in Europe’s premier club competition, beginning in the group stage. In fact, there would be a total of eight qualified sides who were not involved in this season’s group phase: Leipzig, Hoffenheim, Chelsea, Liverpool, Roma, Shakhtar, Anderlecht and Feyenoord.
Meanwhile, among the teams looking to get through the play-offs would be Sevilla, Manchester City, Dortmund, Napoli, Sporting CP, Nice and Ajax. Leicester City alone, of the current eight UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists, are not well set for a return to European competition – unless they lift the trophy in June.
*All based on provisional standings as of 13 April 2017 with the access list decided by the UEFA association club coefficient rankings as of the end of 2015/16. Line-up for next season’s UEFA Champions League will be subject to final confirmation by UEFA in the summer.
A new system of qualification for the club competition will begin for the 2018/19 season with the top four nations (Spain, Germany, England and Italy) each receiving four automatic UEFA Champions League group places.