Champions League 2021/22: Which European clubs qualified for the competition?

(Image credit: PA)

No Ronaldo? No Sancho? No Salah? The Champions League was starting to shape up to be a very strange competition a few weeks ago.

We're used to seeing a couple of big guns slip out of the conversation for the Champions League in England - it comes with the territory of having a Big Six. But over the last few months, it's looked at one point or another like Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur could qualify for the Europa League and face heavyweights of Europe.

Juventus have been lagging all season, as Inter Milan stormed to the title in Italy. Bayern Munich, likewise, were head and shoulders above the rest of the Bundesliga this season - but Borussia Dortmund's torrid term meant that they too might drop into Europe's secondary competition. 

And then there's the shock title winners of the continent - Lille, Sporting and Atletico Madrid - what will European competition look like next season? Surely most of the best teams will be in Pot 2 - and so many great sides won't be there at all?

Who's qualified for the Champions League 2021/21?

The Champions League winners and the Europa League winners go into Pot 1 as the first two teams. That's one of Manchester City and Chelsea, plus one of Manchester United and Villarreal. Villarreal will only qualify for the Champions League if they beat United on Wednesday - since they finished 7th in La Liga. OK - easy so far.

After that, the champions of Spain, England, Germany, Italy, France and Portugal join them. So that's Atletico, City, Bayern, Inter, Lille and Sporting - a little different to usual, right? Zenit Saint Petersburg won the Russian Premier League: they'll take the last spot in Pot 1 if City win the Champions League - if not, it's Chelsea's.

Pot 2 is where things really get interesting, as you've got loads more big teams, who didn't win the title this season like they usually do. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Sevilla are all in Pot 2, having qualified, while Borussia Dortmund, Porto, Ajax and RB Leipzig could be in Pot 2 or 3.

The other teams who have definitely qualified for the group stage are Atalanta, Besiktas, Dynamo Kiev, Club Brugge, AC Milan and Wolfsburg. So as a group of death, you could have... Manchester City, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and AC Milan. Or what about Chelsea, PSG, RB Leipzig and Atalanta? Tasty!

Who could still qualify for the Champions League 2021/22?

Steven Gerrard

(Image credit: PA)

Unfortunately, not all countries' champions get an automatic pass into the group stage - despite the competition's name. There's a preliminary qualification round, three qualifying rounds and a play-off round. Different countries' clubs get access into the qualification period at different points, depending on coefficient.

In the preliminary round, champions of tiny nations - clubs like Folgore of San Marino (Gary Neville's a big fan of them) - enter. Win that and they get into the first qualification round, where we meet Ferencvaros, Cluj, Shamrock Rovers, Ludogorets, Malmo and Dinamo Zagreb among others. All of these teams have the opportunity to get into the Champions League - but they have to win three games to get to the group stage. 

In the next round, Olympiacos, Young Boys, Red Star Belgrade and Omonia join; in the round after that, Rangers and Slavia Prague enter and in the last qualification round, Red Bull Salzburg play. You get the idea: clubs from bigger leagues have fewer qualification games to get in.

All of these teams are champions of their respective nations. They're supplemented by other teams who finished high up in these smaller leagues too: Monaco, Genk, Benfica, Shakhtar Donetsk, Spartak Moscow, Celtic, PSV Eindhoven, Sparta Prague, Rapid Vienna and Galatasaray are also in with a shot of qualifying for the Champions League group stage. 

Who's qualified for the Europa League 2021/22?

Jamie Vardy

(Image credit: PA)

Leicester City fans can take some comfort out of the fact that they're perhaps the best side in the Europa League next season. West Ham United will be in the newly-streamlined competition with the Foxes from England - only two teams from the Premier League this time around, at least until Champions League third-placed sides drop down. 

From Europe, there's Reals Betis and Sociedad from Spain, Napoli and Lazio from Italy, Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen from Germany, and Olympiques Lyonnais and Marseille from France. Braga and Lokomotiv Moscow make up the rest of the group stage so far. 

Antwerp, Zorya Luhansk, AZ Alkmaar, Fenerbahce and Sturm Graz all finished third in their respective divisions: they'll all be in a play-off round to get into the Europa League along with some of the teams who drop out from the Champions League qualification rounds. 

As Scottish Cup winners, St Johnstone will be in the Third Qualifying Round for the competition. They'll have to win that game, then face another team in a play-off - win both and they'll be playing Europa League football next season.

Who's qualified for the Europa Conference League 2021/22?

Son Heung-min

(Image credit: Getty)

For the group stage? Well... no one yet. There's a play-off round to get in - the teams who have made that are Tottenham Hotspur, Roma, Union Berlin, Rennes and Villarreal (assuming they don't win the Europa League final against Man United).

Pacos de Ferreira, Rubin Kazan, Anderlecht, Kolos Kovalivka, Vitesse, Trabzonspor and LASK are all in the third qualifying round for the competition. One of the Champions League first qualifying round losers will drop into this stage of the Conference League qualification process. 

In the Second Qualifying Round, you've got the likes of Feyenoord, Hibernian, Aberdeen, AEK Athens, Basel, Rosenborg, BATE and Qarabag. Below that in the First Qualifying Round, you've got Maribor, Dundalk, Bohemians, Sligo Rovers and The New Saints. 

As is with the other competitions, losing in the qualification of the Europa League means you can drop into the Conference League. 

And who didn't make Europe at all?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

(Image credit: PA)

It's been a topsy-turvy season but most notably, Arsenal will not be in Europe, for the first time in a generation. 

They're not the only ones, though. In Germany, Borussia Monchengladbach will be without continental football next season after falling behind Union Berlin. Lens looked good for Europe in France but fell away and Granada won't have another European after this season's adventures in the Europa. Istanbul Basaksehir played PSG, Leipzig and Man United this season but finished 12th - so they haven't earned a second campaign in Europe. 

Never mind, lads. At least you won't get jetlag, right? 


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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.