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Italy earns fifth Champions League spot for next season because of overall success in Europe

Jose Dos Santos Ederson Atalanta Jose Dos Santos Ederson - The Canadian Press

ROME (AP) — Italy is the first nation to benefit from UEFA’s move to award an extra Champions League qualifying spot based on countries’ overall records in European competitions.

With Roma and Atalanta qualifying for the Europa League semifinals and Fiorentina advancing to the last four in the Europa Conference League, the top five finishers in this season’s Serie A will qualify for next season’s expanded 36-team Champions League.

And the Italian league could even have a sixth team in the Champions League if Roma or Atalanta win the Europa League.

In UEFA’s European performance standings, Italy leads with 19.428 points, ahead of Germany (17.928), England (17.375), France (16.083) and Spain (15.312). The points total is averaged across all of each country’s teams that played in the three UEFA competitions this season and rewards their consistency.

The top two finishers in the standings earn an extra Champions League spot and UEFA confirmed on Friday that Italy can now finish no lower than second.

Roma is currently fifth in Serie A and stands to profit from Italy’s extra slot. Borussia Dortmund is fifth in the Bundesliga and is in position to get in if Germany confirms its position. Dortmund also can qualify for the next Champions League by winning this edition — it plays Paris Saint-Germain in the semifinals — which could give Germany a sixth entry

While no Italian clubs advanced to the last eight of this season’s Champions League, Serie A has done well in continental play recently with Italian teams finishing runner-up in all three European competitions last season: Inter Milan in the Champions League, Roma in the Europa League and Fiorentina in the Conference League.

Also, Roma won the Conference League two years ago.

On Thursday, Roma eliminated AC Milan on 3-1 aggregate, Atalanta beat Liverpool on 3-1 aggregate and Fiorentina defeated Viktoria Plzen on 2-0 aggregate.

“It’s a great result for the entire movement,” Italian soccer federation president Gabriele Gravina told the Adnkronos agency. “Having three semifinalists this season generates new opportunities to add value to the Italian soccer brand."

Roma next faces German champion Bayer Leverkusen, Atalanta meets Marseille and Fiorentina plays Club Brugge.


AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.


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