Potential Champions League debutants for the 2020-21 season
Europe's big leagues are entering the business end of the season and there are a number of unfashionable teams challenging for a place in the Champions League.
With four Champions League places up for grabs in England, Spain, Italy and Germany there is always the possibility for someone to gatecrash Europe’s premier club competition, but a number of teams could end up making their debut at that level next season.
The Blades only earned promotion to the Premier League last season after a 12-year absence but they have taken to life in the top-flight like a duck to water and currently find themselves eighth in the standings, but with a game in hand on all the sides directly above them.
Indeed, win that game against relegation-threatened Aston Villa and Chris Wilder’s side will be up to fifth, just two points behind fourth-place Chelsea.
Fifth-place could even be enough to seal United a place in the Champions League due to Manchester City’s potential European ban, while that would also see them play in Europe for the first time in their history.
Wolves are perhaps 12 months ahead of Sheff United in their development, as they earned promotion to the Premier League in 2018 before finishing seventh last season and qualifying for the Europa League.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are still going strong in Europe’s secondary competition, as they will face Olympiakos for a place in the quarter-finals later this month and they know winning that tournament would see them qualify for the Champions League.
However, Wolves can also achieve that feat via their Premier League finish, as Sunday’s 3-2 victory at Tottenham has moved them up to sixth, just three points off the top four.
Wolves did play in the European Cup during the 1950s and 60s, reaching the quarter-finals once, but they have never come close to qualifying for the competition in its current form.
Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have dominated the Champions League positions in La Liga for a number of years, with Sevilla and Valencia having seemingly rotated the fourth spot on an annual basis, but that looks set to change this season.
Getafe are one of the sides threatening to challenge the established elite in Spain, as they currently sit fourth in the standings, above Atleti, while they are proving that last season’s fifth-place finish was not just a flash in the pan.
Like Wolves, Jose Bordalas’ side are also still going strong in the Europa League and they have a considerably better defensive record than Barcelona in La Liga this season.
It would certainly be an incredible achievement if the sixth most populated municipality in Madrid were to be hosting Champions League football next season.
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) March 1, 2020
There may only be three Champions League spots available to clubs in France, with Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille set to fill the first two, but third-place remains very much up for grabs.
European regulars Lyon and Lille are in the mix to secure that position, but the current occupiers are Rennes, who have quietly moved into the reckoning.
It should not be too much of a surprise to see Julien Stephan’s side flying high, as they reached the last 16 of the Europa League last season, whilst also winning the Coupe de France.
However, they have never played in the Champions League before and, if they do qualify, then they will have to improve on their record in Europe from this term, as they finished bottom of their Europa League group, picking up just four points from their six games.