Europa League clash carries more weight than Hammers own hopes


Europa League clash carries more weight than Hammers own hopes

West Ham‘s  Europa League clash against SC Freiburg on Thursday carries far more weight than just their own European hopes. The outcome of this match could significantly impact England’s chances of securing an extra Champions League spot for next season.

Europa League clash carries more weight than Hammers own hopes

David Moyes’ men face a daunting task. Trailing 1-0 on aggregate, they need a win at home to reach their third consecutive European quarter-final, an impressive feat for the club.

However, the stakes extend beyond West Ham‘s immediate goals.  Several Premier League teams, including Tottenham, Aston Villa, Brighton, Wolves, Newcastle, and Chelsea, are keeping a close eye on this match.

The reason? This game is crucial in determining which country gets an additional Champions League spot for the upcoming season. UEFA’s coefficient system, based on club performances in European competitions, decides how these coveted spots are allocated.

Next season’s Champions League format expands to 36 teams, with more opportunities for European glory.  However, this expansion creates a need for additional qualifying spots.

Currently, Italy sits comfortably at the top of the coefficient rankings, making them strong contenders for an extra Champions League slot.  But the battle between England and Germany is much closer.

England’s position is slightly precarious despite Arsenal’s recent win.  With several German teams already eliminated, West Ham’s victory over Freiburg would significantly boost England’s coefficient score.

A West Ham win mirrors Arsenal’s achievement, earning them valuable coefficient points.  Conversely, a Freiburg win would see them gain points, tightening the gap between England and Germany.

An extra Champions League spot wouldn’t just benefit the fortunate team. It would trigger a chain reaction throughout the Premier League.  The fifth-placed team, currently Tottenham, would automatically qualify for the Champions League.  This, in turn, frees up Europa League and Europa Conference League slots for other teams based on league position and FA Cup results.

West Ham’s Europa League encounter against Freiburg transcends the immediate competition. It’s a match with far-reaching consequences for England’s European standing and a potential boon for several Premier League teams hoping to secure European football next season.

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Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!"

Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon