Greece’s clubs face major fight for Champions/Europa League places

Greece’s top clubs face major fight for Champions/Europa League places
 

The journey to reach the top table of European football is set to get even longer for the Superleague’s elite clubs after next season, as changes to the format of the UEFA Champions and Europa League from the 2018/19 season threaten to pose a major headache.
 
Let's take things from the top. This season’s 2016/17 Greek Superleague and Cup granted a total of five places to next year’s 2017/18 UEFA Champions League and Europa League. The champions (Olympiacos) and runner-ups (AEK) will enter the third qualifying round of the competition and will need to progress through two rounds to reach the group stages. 
 
The Cup winner (PAOK) and the third placed team from the Superleague (Panathinaikos) will enter the Europa League third qualifying round (need to progress through two rounds to reach the group stages) while the Superleague’s fifth placed team (Panionios), will begin in the Europa League second qualifying round and will need to progress through three rounds to qualify for the group stages. 
 
However things will change for the worse for Greek teams after UEFA announced some tweaks in terms of qualifying criteria which will come into effect from 2018-2021, which in effect heavily favour Europe’s big guns in both competitions. These changes will affect the European places from next year’s Greek Superleague and Cup.

AGONAsport.com will look at the changes implemented in both the UEFA Champions and Europa League and how it affects the Greek teams. 

 

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
 

In a nutshell, Europe's top four domestic leagues according to UEFA’s coefficient rankings are to be guaranteed four places each in the group stages of the Champions League from the 2018-19 season, that means Spain, Germany, England and Italy. This means that there will be fewer places available for the “lesser” domestic leagues, and things get quite bleak for those below 10th (and 11th) place in the coefficient rankings. 
 
With the new changes, the following 26 teams will receive an automatic place in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League based on next year’s 2017/18 domestic campaigns:

  • The top four teams from the top four associations (England, Spain. Germany, Italy) totaling 16 teams.
  • The top two teams from associations ranked 5-6 (France, Portugal) totaling 4 teams
  • The champions from associations ranked 7-10 (Russia, Ukraine, Belgium, Holland) totaling 4 teams
  • The 2018 UEFA Champions League champion (if the 2018 UCL champions have already secured a place in the Champions League group stages from their domestic performance, then the champion from the 11th ranked association will earn a place in the 2018/19 Champions League group stages)
  • The 2018 UEFA Europa League champion  (if the 2018 UEL champions has already secured a place in the Champions League group stages from their domestic performance, then the third placed team from the 5th ranked association will qualify for the 2018/19 Champions League group stages)

So how does this affect the Greek teams? Greece ended this season in 14th place in UEFA’s coefficient ranking and according to their current ranking, next season’s SuperLeague champions will not get an automatic ticket into the group stages. 
 
Greece’s 2017/18 champions will have to get through two qualifying rounds - starting in the third qualifying round, then the playoffs, which if they are successful will then join the group stage. UEFA’s changes for the 2018-19 season DO NOT affect the Superleague’s champion as even this season, Olympiacos will go through two qualifying rounds.
 
However, for next season’s 2017/18 SuperLeague runner-up, the task of making the group stages in the 2018/19 season will be even tougher, as they will have to get through three rounds of qualifying, starting in the second qualifying round. A reminder that this year’s Superleague runner up, AEK, will only have to go through two qualifying rounds to reach the Champions League group stages.

In simple terms...

  • 2017/18 Superleague Champion: Will begin in the UCL third qualifying round
  • 2017/18 Superleague runner-up: Will begin in the UCL second qualifying round

One thing to note is that Greece - who have 26,900 points in the coefficient rankings - may also lose their second Champions League berth if they drop just two places to 16th, currently occupied by Croatia on 25,250 points, during the next few seasons. However, if Greece were to climb to 10th or even 11th in the rankings, the Superleague champion could re-earn their automatic place in the Champions League group stages. More on that below...


UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE
 

As for the Europa League places are concerned, things do not look promising in this competition either. With Greece having finished 14th in the coefficient rankings at the end of this season, next year’s 2017/18 Superleague and Cup will be granted three places in the 2018/19 Europa League (the same as now). However, where the Greek teams will begin in the competition will change.

The 2018 Cup winner will be granted the best position as they will begin in the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round (the same as now) while BOTH the third and fourth placed teams from the 2018 Super League will begin in the 2018/19 Europa League second qualifying round, meaning three rounds before reaching the group stages. If the Cup winner has already secured a place in UEFA’s competition via their domestic finish then the Superleague’s 5th placed team will be granted a spot in the Europa League (similar to Panionios’ situation this year).

In simple terms...

  • 2017/18 Cup Champion: Will begin in the UEL third qualifying round
  • 2017/18 Superleague third place: Will begin in the UEL second qualifying round
  • 2017/18 Superleague fourth place: Will begin in the UEL second qualifying round

If Greece manage to reach 12th place in the associations ranking next season then the Cup winner will automatically qualify for the Europa League group stages, the Superleague’s third placed team will begin in the third qualifying round and the Superleague’s fourth placed team will begin in the second qualifying round.
 
On the flip side, if Greece fall to 16th, then one representative will be lost (4th placed Superleague team) and the Superleague’s third placed team will begin in the Europa League first qualifying round, meaning FOUR rounds of qualifying before reaching the group stages.
 


WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? THE OUTLOOK...
 

Although we already know where next year’s 2017/18 Superleague teams will end up in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions and Europa League, based on the Greek teams’ performances in this year’s 2017/18 UEFA season things could change for the future of Greek football. Wherever Greece ends up in the coefficient rankings at the end of this 2017/18 UEFA season will affect the 2018/19 Superleague places for the 2019/2020 UEFA Champions/Europa League.

So what is Greece’s goal in the association rankings for the upcoming UEFA season? 
 

  • 12th place: SL champion (UCL playoff qualifying round), SL runner-up (UCL second qualifying round), Cup champion (UEL group stages), SL third place (UEL third qualifying round), SL fourth place (UEL second qualifying round)

What place does Greece want to avoid in the association rankings for the upcoming UEFA season? 

  • 16th/17th place: SL champion (UCL second qualifying round), Cup champion (UEL third qualifying round), SL runner-up (UEL second qualifying round), SL third place (UEL first qualifying round)
  • 15th place: SL champion (UCL second qualifying round), SL runner-up (UCL second qualifying round), Cup champion (UEL third qualifying round), SL third place (UEL second qualifying round), SL fourth place (UEL secod qualifying round)

If Greece remain 14th in UEFA's association rankings or move to 13th place then Greece's representation remains the same: 

  • SL champion (UCL third qualifying round), SL runner-up (UCL second qualifying round), Cup champion (UEL third qualifying round), SL third place (UEL second qualifying round), SL fourth place (UEL second qualifying round)
     

The message is clear for the likes of this seasons representatives Olympiacos, Panionios, PAOK, AEK and Panathinaikos to progress as far as possible in European competitions in order to maintain or climb in the association rankings. 

Confused yet? If so, please feel to ask us any questions at agoansport@gmail.com or message us directly on Facebook at AGONAsport Online.

 

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