Germany to take Champions League spot from Italy

BERLIN - Germany will gain a fourth place in the Champions League in 2012/13 at Italy's expense after climbing into third spot in the UEFA coefficient ranking, the German Football League (DFL) said on Friday.

From 2012 four Bundesliga teams, instead of three, will be eligible for the Champions League while the fifth and sixth-placed clubs will be entered for the Europa League.

"Italy are no longer able to take over third spot this season," the DFL said in a statement. "The new ranking gives Bundesliga teams three starting spots in the group stage and a fourth in the playoff games of the competition."

On the other hand, three Serie A teams, instead of four, will be eligible for the Champions League with the top two in the group stage and the third entering the qualifying phase. The fourth and fifth-placed clubs will enter the Europa League.

Germany currently stand behind England and Spain in the coefficient ranking with 68,103 points, having extended their lead over Italy (59,981) to 8,122 points, the DFL added.

DFL chief Reinhard Rauball said he was confident Germany could eventually move even higher in the rankings.

"With a little patience I am convinced we can overtake the (Spanish) Primera Division in the medium term," Rauball told reporters.

On Wednesday, European champions Inter Milan lost 1-0 at home to last season's runners-up Bayern Munich, while Italy's other two clubs in the last 16 of the Champions League, AC Milan and Roma, both lost their first-leg matches at home.

Sampdoria were knocked out in the qualifying stage.

On Thursday, Serie A's last representative in the Europa League, Napoli, went out after a 2-1 defeat by Villarreal, raising the real possibility that there will be no Italian interest in the next round of European competitions.

Among German clubs, along with Bayern's win, Schalke 04 drew at Valencia in the Champions League and, while VfB Stuttgart exited the Europa League after losing at home to Benfica, Bayer Leverkusen reached the last 16 by beating Metalist Kharkiv.

The success of Italian clubs in Europe has steadily declined. From 1990-1999 they won 13 European trophies - three European Cup/Champions Leagues, seven UEFA Cups and three Cup Winners' Cups. Since 2000 they have won three Champions Leagues.