What latest UEFA coefficient rankings mean for Manchester United Champions League hopes

Man United Champions League draw ball
Man United are hoping for a return to the Champions League -Credit:Valerio Pennicino

The Premier League's hopes of securing an extra spot in the Champions League next season took another huge dent on Tuesday night, leaving Manchester United with a massive challenge for the run-in.

Next season, the Champions League format will change with four extra places becoming available. Two of those will be handed to countries with the highest UEFA coefficient ranking based on results from teams' results in Europe during the 2023/24 campaign.

Nations are awarded points for how far each club goes in a UEFA competition, with an average being sought for each country when the scores are divided by the number of their clubs taking part in the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League. More points for round-by-round progression are awarded in the Champions League, with these being scaled down through the tiers of competition, albeit the amount of points for a win (two) remains the same across all three tournaments.

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Heading into the first-leg of the three competitions, England held second place in front of Germany and stood a strong chance of retaining that position - and that would have seen the team that finished fifth in the Premier League this season qualify for the Champions League.

United retain ambitions of a top-five finish, though Erik ten Hag's side are seventh in the table after a poor run of form, ten points off fifth-placed Spurs with six games remaining. However, a far from perfect set of European results has left the Premier League's hopes of an extra spot in the balance.

Arsenal and Manchester City both lost their respective Champions League quarter-finals against Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. West Ham and Liverpool are also in danger of exiting the Europa League on Thursday night to Bayer Leverkusen and Atalanta respectively after losing their first legs, with only Aston Villa retaining a first-leg advantage against Lille in the Conference League.

Arsenal's exit to Bayern was especially damaging for England given it was a defeat to a direct coefficient rival in Germany, while Borussia Dortmund also progressed to the Champions League semi-finals at the expense of Atletico Madrid. Should Leverkusen follow Bayern's example and knock out a London club in West Ham, Germany would be in an exceedingly strong position in the UEFA rankings.

Following the results on Wednesday, ESPN reports that Italy are all but assured of an extra Champions League spot for next season - which will currently be awarded to AS Roma - with a coefficient ranking of 18.428.

Germany's coefficient ranking improved to 17.642, with England's now 16.875. It now means that England have to hope Liverpool, West Ham and Villa all progress on Thursday night to have any hopes of a fifth Champions League spot for next season.

What it means for United is that Ten Hag's side will likely need a top-four finish to qualify for the Champions League next term, and that is easier said than done. United trail fourth-placed Villa by 13 points with a game in hand, so would need Villa to drop at least ten points from their remaining five games - and win every game themselves to stand a chance. With United's goal difference sitting at -1 compared to Villa's +19, United would effectively need an 11-point swing to make up for that gap as well.