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Liverpool could face Champions League play-off against Sevilla, Napoli or Dortmund

May 17, 2017 2:08 PM
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Liverpool could face Champions League play-off against Sevilla, Napoli or Dortmund

Liverpool could face the likes of Sevilla, Napoli or Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League play-off round if they finish fourth in the Premier League.

The Reds are in fourth place going into their final-day fixture at home to Middlesbrough, live on Sky Sports, but could overtake third-place Manchester City, who go to Watford, also live on Sky Sports.

Liverpool are two points behind City and with an inferior goal difference (+33 to +36), but overtaking them could be vitally important if they wish to reach the group stage of the 2017/18 Champions League.

Due to their strong UEFA club coefficient rankings, Manchester City and Arsenal would be guaranteed a seeded place in the 10-team play-off round draw if either finished fourth, though Liverpool's ranking is considerably weaker.

Even if Liverpool are seeded, the likes of Roma, Hoffenheim, Besiktas and Sporting Lisbon could be waiting for them, meaning Sunday's games take on even more importance.

Confused? You're forgiven. It's complicated. Here we explain what it all means...

The Champions League play-off round draw is split between five seeded teams and five unseeded teams, ranked on their coefficient score, which takes into account performances in Europe over the last five seasons. The five winners go into the Champions League group stage, and the losers go into the Europa League.

Five of the 10 teams in this round are made up of: clubs that finish fourth in Spain (Sevilla guaranteed), Germany and England, plus the clubs that finish third in Italy and Portugal (Sporting Lisbon guaranteed).

The remaining five are teams that have come through the previous Third Qualifying Round League Route, which is made up of five games between: third-place club in France and second-place clubs in Russia, Ukraine, Belgium, Netherlands, Turkey, Czech Republic, Romania, Greece and Switzerland.

So far, only Sevilla and Sporting Lisbon are guaranteed a spot in the Champions League play-off round. In Germany, Dortmund and Hoffenheim are battling it out for third spot with a game remaining. In Italy, where the top three places are awarded Champions League football compared to the Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga's four, Napoli and Roma are fighting for second.

*If Ajax win the Europa League final against Man Utd, they will qualify for the Champions League Group Stage, and despite reports elsewhere, PSV will not move into Ajax's place. UEFA say the access list will be adjusted and priority will be given to winners of domestic championships as per the 2017/18 access list. This will be announced at a later date by UEFA, but in any case, the team is highly unlikely to have a higher coefficient than Liverpool.

As you can see, Liverpool are currently ninth in the list of possible play-off participants and need to come top five. You can wipe Arsenal and Manchester City off that list if Liverpool finish fourth in the Premier League, moving them up to seventh in the coefficient rank.

Well, there's still a tough task ahead, and Jurgen Klopp wouldn't underestimate it. It's worth noting, nor would Manchester City and Arsenal, who of course would be seeded if they finished fourth.

If seeded, the fourth-place Premier League side could face the likes of CSKA, Besiktas, Sporting Lisbon, Hoffenheim or Roma in the play-off round. No easy task, whatever happens.

One thing is for sure, you won't be seeing this article again in 12 months. From next season, the top four in the Premier League will go directly to the Champions League group stage. Hooray!


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