UEFA Coefficient Battles 2024/25: The EPS Spots

The UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Conference League all get underway next week with the first qualifying round. More than 80 teams will embark on a new continental journey in what is the first season under a completely new format in September.

Following last month’s country coefficient preview series, Extratime Talk opens up another coefficient preview series, this one much shorter. We will take a look at the battles in UEFA’s five-year country coefficient ranking over the next season. While not everyone is familiar with coefficients and its significance, it plays a role in how many spots a country gets in Europe, the competitions, and the starting points for all clubs involved.

Unlike the previous series, not all countries will be mentioned in depth. The majority of them, however, will be, as those national associations are expected to be involved.

This last article of the six-part series encompasses the most dynamic battle of them all: the race for the European Performance Spots. While any of the 54 countries involved in the European club competitions in 2024/25 can win it, this piece will focus on the five main contestants: the ‘Big 5’ leagues.

Battle For the European Performance Spots: The Situation

This battle is completely contrasting from the other battles in this series. The other ones focus on UEFA’s five-year country coefficient ranking. In contrast, this race focuses solely on the 2024/25 seasonal coefficient. This results in this battle being a lot more unique, more fascinating, as anyone can win, although it is very likely that the ‘Big 5’ leagues will benefit.

Some might be wondering: “what are the European Performance Spots?” The European Performance Spots, known as the EPS, are two places in the new UEFA Champions League, awarded to the two best-performing nations from the previous season. These two countries earn an extra automatic Champions League place, awarded to the highest ranked club from that domestic league season not to have initially qualified for the UCL league phase.

The remaining European places – any potential UCL qualifying round places, Europa League, and Conference League spots – are maintained, and are passed down the ranking. It must be noted that cup winners are ineligible for an EPS unless that team actually finishes as the highest ranked non-automatic UCL team domestically.

Below are the five countries most likely to claim these two EPSs.

Country2023/24 Season Coefficient2023/24 5-Year Coefficient
England17.375 (3rd)89.160 (1st)
Italy21.000 (1st)79.106 (2nd)
Spain16.062 (5th)73.989 (3rd)
Germany19.357 (2nd)71.660 (4th)
France16.250 (4th)57.736 (5th)

Some countries will look to build on an impressive 2023/24 campaign, while others have serious work to do in order to considerably improve from a substandard year. Regardless of where these countries fall, we can be certain of an intriguing race going into the 2024/25 season.

Battle For the European Performance Spots: The Countries Involved

The Main Cast

Among the ‘Big 5’ leagues, there are 37 clubs from the five countries partaking in Europe next term. Out of the 37, there will be 21-22 clubs in the UCL proper, 10-11 in the UEL league phase, and the remaining five in the UECL playoff round.

Manchester City (UCL LP)Atalanta (UCL LP)Real Madrid (UCL LP)Bayer Leverkusen (UCL LP)Paris Saint-Germain (UCL LP)
Arsenal (UCL LP)Internazionale (UCL LP)Barcelona (UCL LP)Stuttgart (UCL LP)AS Monaco (UCL LP)
Liverpool (UCL LP)AC Milan (UCL LP)Girona (UCL LP)Bayern Munich (UCL LP)Stade Brestois (UCL LP)
Aston Villa (UCL LP)Juventus (UCL LP)Atlético Madrid (UCL LP)RB Leipzig (UCL LP)LOSC Lille (UCL Q3)
Manchester United (UEL LP)Bologna (UCL LP)Athletic Club (UEL LP)Borussia Dortmund (UCL LP)OGC NIce (UEL LP)
Tottenham Hotspur (UEL LP)AS Roma (UEL LP)Real Sociedad (UEL LP)Eintracht Frankfurt (UEL LP)Olympique Lyonnais (UEL LP)
Chelsea (UECL PO)Lazio (UEL LP)Real Betis (UECL PO)Hoffenheim (UEL LP)RC Lens (UECL PO)
Fiorentina (UECL PO)Heidenheim (UECL PO)

England was perhaps the biggest surprise of the previous season, losing out on a EPS after a complete collapse at the quarterfinal stage. Entering the round with five teams left – the most of any country – four of the sides lost at that stage, which ultimately cost them. This season’s crew of clubs include the ‘Big 6’ alongside Aston Villa, who was the only English side to get past the quarterfinals last term. This could be a record-breaking year for England in Europe, given the teams representing them.

Italy has collected the most coefficient points over the last two seasons, eclipsing 20.000 points both times. After finishing atop the 2023/24 seasonal ranking, they benefited from an EPS for this term. For the first time since days of the UEFA Cup, Italy has eight teams in Europe. That could be a wonderful thing, or a blessing in disguise. Italy is also second in UEFA’s five-year country ranking, having passed Spain in the spring.

Speaking of Spain, they failed to finish in the top two of the seasonal ranking for the third year in a row in 2023/24. This is despite Real Madrid going all the way in the Champions League. Unfortunately for the country, Los Blancos were the only Spanish side left when the semifinals rolled around. It will take a team effort from the seven Spanish representatives to end up with an EPS at season’s end.

Germany managed to do the unthinkable in 2023/24, winning the second EPS at the expense of England, Spain, and France, among others. A very strong year from the Bundesliga cast – capped off with two European finalists and a semifinalist – proved to be pivotal as they finished in the top two of the seasonal ranking for the first time since 2019/20. Repeating that showing will be a tall order though, as they will have eight European representatives, just as they did two years ago.

Finally, France had a solid 2023/24 campaign, with two teams reaching the semifinals. As they have a stranglehold on fifth place in the five-year ranking, France benefited from the new format, as they now have an additional European spot, in the Champions League proper. Thus, for the first time since 2008/09, France will have seven European representatives overall. This could be a great thing, or a massive hindrance. Time will tell as to which of the two it will be.

Potential Surprises in This Race

Before moving on, we will discuss five countries who could also have a say in this race. The likelihood of any of them winning an EPS is rather low, but it would be ill-advised to ignore them.

We have to start by mentioning Netherlands. After all, they were the last country from outside the ‘Big 5’ leagues to finish in the top two in a season, doing so in 2021/22. They do have six teams in Europe this term, after passing Portugal in the five-year ranking at the conclusion of the 2022/23 season. This is a first for Dutch football in a decade, and could see them struggle to have the same showing as they did in 2021/22 and 2022/23.

Two other nations to mention here are Portugal and Belgium. The former had a rather disappointing 2023/24 season, with only Benfica making it past the round of 16. This has to be seen as a chance though, as Portugal returns to having just five teams in Europe this time around. That could be advantageous.

As for Belgium, they have been the best of the rest over the last two seasons, earning the most coefficient points of all the countries outside of the top five leagues. The nation has broken their seasonal coefficient record in consecutive seasons. If they break their record for the third year in a row, they could become a serious dark horse in this battle.

Rounding out the other two potential surprises in this race are Turkey and Greece. Outside of the other countries mentioned in this article, the pair are the most likely to have all of their European representatives in a league phase in the fall. Both Turkey and Greece impressed in 2023/24, giving us more than enough reason to keep an eye on the two countries.

The Decisive Factors in the Battle For the European Performance Spots

Like the other battles in this series, there are a few things that will be important to these countries in order to win a coveted EPS. Expect a seasonal coefficient north of 20.000 points to be required for an EPS.

The first requirement will be to have all of their teams in the league phases. Spain learned this painful lesson the hard way last time out, as Osasuna fell in the Conference League playoff round. Lose a team at the end of the summer, and suddenly things become a lot more difficult.

Beyond that, the countries should avoid losing multiple teams at the end of the league phase. The more sides in the knockout rounds, the better. Also keep in mind, the more teams entering the round of 16 directly, the more coefficient points are awarded. So, that becomes pivotal as well. Finally, having at least three teams in the quarterfinals, and multiple in the semifinals, is pivotal.

Finally, the significance of winning direct clashes – which we will see a plethora of these in 2024/25 – cannot be understated. This is what ultimately sealed England’s faith last term. Winning matches between clubs from competing nations in this battle will be where the EPSs are won and lost.

Prediction: Who Will Claim the European Performance Spots?

We end this article (and series) by looking at who will come out on top in this battle. Looking solely at the top five leagues, here is how we expect things to turn out in this battle:

  1. England
  2. Italy

  3. Spain
  4. France
  5. Germany

As was the case in last year’s preview, the expectation is for England and Italy to win the EPSs. England has, on paper, possibly their strongest group of clubs in Europe. This can seldom be ignored, and should result in a very, very good year in continental play for them. Similarly, Italy has a healthy contingent of European regulars, who should be able to follow up on the last two seasons in Europe.

Spain has seen a decline in recent years, and, unless they can do damage in the Europa League again, it is hard to see them finishing with an EPS. Real Madrid did the hard work last year, and that partially saved them from utter embarrassment. That cannot continue in 2024/25.

For Germany, there were a lot of things that went right for them in 2023/24 that is hard to see continuing this time around. That will likely cost the in this race, and should see them struggle. Add to the fact that this season’s European contingent is weaker than last year’s, and Germany is in trouble.

Finally, France showed some signs of promise in recent years, but it will be a tough ask for them to earn at least 20.000 points. We should still expect a good year from them, but it just will not be enough for them to win an EPS.

With this being the first season under the new formats in the European club competitions, it will be a fascinating watch to see who wins the EPSs. Expect some drama in this battle, with a lot expected to happen. When the dust settles, two countries will enjoy an extra European place in 2025/26. Who it will be, we will find out over the next 11 months.

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