Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Chelsea passed huge Champions League boost as Graham Potter learns top four advantage

Chelsea passed huge Champions League boost as Graham Potter learns top four advantage

Graham Potter’s top four demands at Chelsea may be temporary, as the criteria for qualifying for Europe’s elite club competition change in the coming seasons.

Currently, finishing in the top four of the league every season secures Champions League qualification, while winning the tournament outright or the Europa League also secures a team’s progression to the group stages.

Manchester City and Liverpool have won the last five league titles between them, comfortably ahead of a chasing pack that didn’t put up much of a fight for the top two spots.

This has left a group of teams vying for the coveted final two spots. 

Chelsea has finished just ahead of Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester United in each of the last four years, only missing out on qualification in 2018.

However, in the long run, the battle for these positions may not be as important as it appears. With a new tournament structure set to take effect in 2024/25, immediate qualification will be based not only on the table in 2023/24, but also on results from this season.

Due to the elimination of UEFA’s club coefficient ranking, which awarded points based on European results over five seasons, and the substitution of country coefficients, two of the extra four spots in the competition, increasing the total number of teams from 32 to 36, would go to nations whose clubs performed best.

Using last season’s results as an example, England and the Netherlands would have received an extra spot. Chelsea had already qualified, but adding a fifth spot is a significant change.

How does all of this help Chelsea? It allows them to qualify without putting too much pressure on finishing in the top four.

Although that is still the goal, especially with Graham Potter in charge, it is a way out if things go wrong, and it may well act as a saving grace in a season that could have been a failure previously, depending on how important individuals rank qualification alongside league competition.

Chelsea currently sits fourth in the UEFA club coefficient, behind Manchester City, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich, while fellow top four contenders Tottenham and Arsenal are 18th and 23rd, respectively. Manchester United is tenth.

Due to English teams’ dominance, with five finalists in five years and two champions, there is almost a certainty that an extra spot will be available in 2024/25.

 Furthermore, the current rankings provide an easier path to the group stages – though this is more of a benefit for lower-ranked teams because the top three teams in England go straight into the groups – and have an impact on prize money.

Chelsea passed huge Champions League boost as Graham Potter learns top four advantage