Why Manchester United are now guaranteed a Champions League group stage place after winning Europa League

United saw off Ajax in Stockholm to finally get their hands on the only European trophy not in their bulging trophy cabinet and a place back at football's top table to boot

Ben Burrows@benburrows_
Wednesday 24 May 2017 21:41
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United qualify straight into the Champions League group stages
United qualify straight into the Champions League group stages

Manchester United's victory over Ajax in the Europa League final has earned them a place in next season's Champions League - and what's more, they won't even have to qualify for it.

United saw off Ajax in Stockholm to finally get their hands on the only European trophy not in their bulging trophy cabinet and a place back at football's top table to boot.

And thanks to Real Madrid they will go straight into the group stage proper.

If Atlético had beaten Real Madrid to a place in the Champions League final the winners of the Europa League would have been demoted to a place in the Champions League’s notoriously fiendish qualification stage.

Teams such as Shakhtar Donetsk, Fenerbahçe and eventual semi-finalist Monaco all played in the third qualifying round of this season’s competition, so United will be pleased at being able to avoid it next year.

But what are the rules on teams entering the Champions League?

How do Europa League winners qualify for the Champions League?

As per Uefa's website, the winners of the Champions League are automatically granted a place in the competition’s group stages the following season as a reward.

The winners of the Europa League are also rewarded with a place in the competition, being entered into the playoff round at a minimum.

The Europa League winners enter in the group stages if the Champions League winners qualify directly for the competition anyway through their own domestic league position.

Pogba got United on their way in Stockholm 

For example, if a Spanish club won the Champions League and finished from first to third in La Liga, then the Europa League winners would enter the following season’s Champions League at the group stages.

The Europa League winners only end up having to play a qualifier if the Champions League winners do not qualify automatically for the competition’s group stages via their domestic league, (i.e., in the La Liga example above, the Champions League winners would have to finish fourth or lower).

Mkhitaryan doubled United's lead

So, what are the possibilities for United?

How can United qualify for the Champions League?

Because Real Madrid and Juventus have qualified for the final of the Champions League, and because both of those teams were already guaranteed entry into next year's competition because of their league position, the winners of the Europa League will be directly entered into the 2017/18 Champions League group stage.

With in and outside the top four, will a top-four team miss out?

Uefa regulations mean that a maximum of five teams from the same league can qualify for the Champions League, meaning with United winning the Europa League, the side which has finished fourth in the Premier League, Liverpool, will not miss out on a Champions League place.

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