The UEFA Champions League has a new format for the 2024/25 season, with an expanded 36 participating teams in a “Swiss league” format. This allows for an additional place to be each allocated to two countries whose clubs collectively performed the best in UEFA competitions the season before.
This means we could see five Premier League teams qualify for next season’s Champions League. Let’s look at five teams who could benefit from the rule change, and secure a place in the tournament next season.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are strong candidates for the Premier League title, let alone a place in the top five. Their underwhelming fifth place finish last season consequently meant they qualified for the Europa League.
Their 1-1 draw with Manchester City at the weekend was a sign that Liverpool are no pushovers, with their one defeat in the league this season coming away at Tottenham where Klopp’s side were down to ten men. Liverpool’s squad is strong enough to go far in the Europa League, whilst still maintaining a title push, and at the very least, securing a place in the top five. It is tight at the top, and a couple of bad result could see Liverpool drop outside that Champions League places. For now, there is optimism that last season’s quarter finalists could return to the competition, after just one year away.
Ange Postecoglou took the Spurs job knowing that he had no European competition commitments. It felt like a fresh start, with Harry Kane gone and the canvas wiped on a forgettable previous campaign. Focus was solely on the Premier League and FA Cup, after a early exit from the Carabao Cup.
It was all going so well for Tottenham. Entertaining football, goals, impressive wins and an attitude that was refreshing for the Premier League. Spurs were on 26 points from ten games, and looked like outsiders for a possible title challenge, but one of the front runners for a return to the Champions League. Since then, Postecoglou’s side have lost three games in a row to Chelsea, Wolves and Aston Villa.
Although they sit fifth, which may be enough to qualify for the Champions League, the pressure is on for Spurs to get back into form, with Manchester United and Newcastle breathing down their necks. Tottenham face Manchester City, West Ham and Newcastle in their next three games. This may give us a better reading of their potential Champions League credentials. A crucial period for Ange Postecoglou.
This season’s surprise package is Aston Villa. Unai Emery took Villa from 22/23 relegation candidates, to UEFA Europa Conference League qualification. The momentum has not stopped their either. Riding the crest of a footballing wave, Villa find themselves fourth in the Premier League after 13 games.
A 2-1 away win at Tottenham leapfrogged Emery’s side into fourth overtaking their last opponents. With just three defeats and one draw, Aston Villa have won nine of their 13 league games, scoring an impressive 31 goals. Last season we saw Newcastle upset the traditional top six apple cart by qualifying for the Champions League, will we see the same with Villa this season? They have been brilliant, entertaining and fully deserving of their place in the top four. They sit only two points off first placed Arsenal, but face the Gunners and Manchester City in their next three games.
The Seagulls are more than entitled to be in this conversation. Despite juggling the pressures and demands of a Europa League campaign, Roberto De Zerbi’s side are currently only four points off fifth place. Brighton are unbeaten in six games in all competitions, having only suffered three Premier League defeats all season.
If Brighton want to shock the Premier League by qualifying for the Champions League next season, they will need to start turning their draws into wins. In three of their four draws in the league this season, they have taken the lead and failed to grab the three points. Perhaps if Brighton were to go far in the Europa League, it would derail their chances of Champions League qualification. Brighton fans are loving life in Europe at the moment, but the Champions League may just be one step too far.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men have a mountain of a task on their hands if they want to secure a place in the top five. Chelsea sit ten points off fifth, with many thinking their chances are already gone. However, there is plenty of football still to be played, with lots of points to play for. Chelsea have beaten Spurs and drawn with Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool this season, proving there are points to be won against their Premier League rivals.
The two time Champions League winners need to start finding form if they stand any chance of qualification in May. They have shown too much inconsistency so far which has hindered their odds of returning to the most elite club competition in the world. There is still plenty of work to be done.