Shropshire Star

Aston Villa may need to cheer rivals in race for Champions League

Villa fans may need to cheers on the claret and blue of West Ham in the hope of realising their Champions League dreams.


England currently find themselves third in the race to earn an extra spot in next season’s revamped Champions League, which is being expanded to a 36-team single-league tournament from 2024/25, with the group stage being ditched.

Two of the extra four places will be awarded to countries whose teams perform best in European competitions this season.

Manchester United and Newcastle both exited the Champions League in the group stages, leaving England third in the best-performing table behind Italy and Germany.

Italy leads the way with a European coefficient score of 14.714, with Germany second on 13.928 and England third on 13.875.

The score is worked out by the total number of club coefficient points obtained by each club from an association divided by the number of clubs from that association.

It means that Villa – curently fourth in the Premier League, ahead of Tottenham and Manchester United – could find themselves cheering on Arsenal and Manchester City in the Champions League, as well as West Ham, Brighton and Liverpool in the Europa League.

Unai Emery’s side could also strengthen their chances of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time if they finish fifth with a deep run of their own in the Europa Conference League.

The draw for the round of 16 takes place on Friday 23 February at the Uefa headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

There are still eight knockout round play-off games to play, with Villa lining up against one of the winners in the last 16.

Potential opponents include European giants Ajax, 2022 Europa League winners Frankfurt and Manuel Pellegrini’s Real Betis.