Thomas Tuchel has guided Chelsea into the top-four, but he may need to ensure his side claim a top-three finish in the Premier League this season.
Competition for one of England’s four Champions League places tougher than ever before, with eight points separating second-placed Manchester United to Liverpool in seventh.
Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa may feel that their games in hand mean they are still in contention for a top-four finish.
As for Chelsea, they have two routes to make sure they qualify for next season’s Champions League – with one being to win the competition this year and they already have one foot in the quarter-final after beating Atletico Madrid in the round of 16 first-leg clash last month.
But should the Blues fall short, the Premier League will then become their only hope of qualification for Europe’s elite competition in 2021/22.
Currently occupying the final top-four by a single point after a 1-0 win over Liverpool on Thursday night, Tuchel‘s side are firmly in the driver’s seat and are just four points behind Man United.
With that said, Chelsea fans know all too well how a fourth-placed finish doesn’t always guarantee you a place in the Champions League with a repeat of the 2011/12 season potentially on the cards if results go against them in Europe.
Just ask Spurs fans…
Although, five teams from one country are now allowed in the Champions League. So Liverpool, for example, could win the trophy, finish outside the top-four, and still be able defend their crown next season.
This is because the winners of the Champions League are guaranteed a place in the tournament the following season regardless of their final league position.
As a result, this provides a nightmare scenario for how Chelsea could finish fourth and still miss out on the Champions League next season.
The nightmare scenario is if Liverpool win the Champions League AND either Arsenal or Tottenham win the Europa League – and neither finish in the top four – then only the top three in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League.
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Due to a change in UEFA regulations back in 2013, no more than five teams from the same league can compete in Europe’s elite competition.
And Chelsea, who could suffer the same fate they inflicted on Tottenham in 2012, would be in danger of missing out if they don’t climb up the Premier League table in their remaining 11 games.
To put it kindly, unless Chelsea finish third then their participation in the competition next season isn’t guaranteed – unless they win it for a second time – as they’ll be praying for Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham to be knocked out of Europe altogether sooner rather than later.