What's still at stake in Europe's top leagues
As all of Europe's top leagues head into the final matchdays of the season, there is still much to play for. Let's take a look at where things stand ahead of the last games of the current campaign.
Champions: Manchester City — Pep Guardiola's men made it three straight league titles last week by virtue of Arsenal's 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest. City remains on course to become only the second team to win a treble after Manchester United in 1999, but there is still work to be done. To do that, City will have to defeat United in the FA Cup Final at Wembley on June 4 before heading to Istanbul to take on Inter in the Champions League Final on June 10.
Champions League: Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle United — Arsenal will rue their late-season collapse that saw the Gunners blow an eight-point lead atop the table and capitulate to City, but they will still finish as runners-up for their highest finish in seven years and return to the Champions League for the first time since 2017. Manchester United still has much work to do to overcome the rot that set in over the last decade since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, but the first since under Erik ten Hag can be seen as a success with a League Cup title, a top-four finish and the chance to win the FA Cup next weekend. Newcastle United is set to return to Europe's top club competition for the first time since 2003 after a transformative season under Eddie Howe.
Europa League: Liverpool and Brighton — Despite a strong finish to the season that saw them win seven of their final eight games leading into the final matchday, Liverpool will play in Europa League next season for the first time since 2016 after their late surge couldn't make up for dropped points in winnable matches earlier in the season. Brighton heads to Europe for the first time ever in their 121-year history, a remarkable feat for a team that saw Graham Potter depart in October for Chelsea with Roberto De Zerbi arriving and quickly establishing himself as one of the best young managers in Europe by steadying the ship and helping the Seagulls thrive. West Ham can also join Liverpool and Brighton in Europa next season should they win the Europa Conference League Final on June 7 against Fiorentina. It's the Hammers' first European final since 1976.
Europa Conference League: There's one last European spot to play for on Sunday and it's this one. Aston Villa, transformed under Unai Emery, currently sits in seventh and the final European place, a single point ahead of Tottenham Hotspur. A victory over Brighton at Villa Park will guarantee Villa's return to Europe after a 12-year absence. Spurs will need help from Brighton as they take on Leeds — more on them later — at Elland Road. A Spurs win, coupled with a Villa loss or draw, will hand them a 14th straight season in European competition. But Brentford is still alive, as well. A Bees win over Manchester City coupled with a Villa loss or draw and a Spurs loss or draw would see Brentford head to Europe for the first time ever. The Bees hold a far superior goal differential (+11) to Villa and Spurs (both at +4).
Relegation: Southampton has already been relegated and will return to the Championship after an 11-year Premier League run. Who goes down with them remains to be seen, but we know it will be two of Leeds, Leicester City and Everton. Everton (-24) sits in 17th on 33 points with Leicester (-18) and Leeds (-27) in 18th and 19th, respectively, both on 31 points. Let's take a closer look at how this final matchday can play out for each team:
— Everton: Everton is the only team in complete control of its own destiny. If Sean Dyche's men defeat Bournemouth on Sunday, they will be safe and ensure they remain alongside Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur as the only original Premier League teams to never have been relegated. Everton will also survive should both of Leeds and Leicester lose. Any other result and things get dicey. If Everton were to lose and one of Leicester or Leeds wins, the Toffees would go down. Obviously, the same would be true if both Leicester and Leeds won. A Toffees draw coupled with a Leicester win would result in the Toffees' relegation. Should Everton draw, Leeds would need to win by three or more to overtake them to safety.
— Leicester City: Leicester is on the verge of becoming only the second ever Premier League champions to get relegated following Blackburn Rovers going down in 1999. In order to stay up, Leicester must defeat West Ham at home. That is the bare minimum. With a European final set for June 7, the Hammers are unlikely to take any risks in what is an absolutely meaningless game for them and will quite probably field a less-than-first-choice squad. Anything less than a win and the Foxes will head back to the Championship for the first time since 2014. But even with a victory, Leicester needs an Everton loss or draw against the Cherries.
— Leeds: The Whites' survival is dependent on the other two games. First and foremost, they must beat Spurs. While Everton and Leicester are both playing teams with nothing to play for, Tottenham still wants to get into Europe and will be fielding a first-choice XI. For Leeds to stay up, their win needs to be coupled with a Foxes loss and an Everton loss. Leeds can still survive with an Everton draw should they win by three or more goals.
Champions: Burnley — Burnley returns to the Premier League in the quickest possible fashion by winning the Championship in a 101-point season under new manager Vincent Kompany. The Manchester City icon has quickly become one of the hottest coaching commodities in Europe and the Clarets could have competition for his services in the summer.
Runners-up: Sheffield United — The Blades are also headed back to the Premier League after a two-year absence by comfortably finishing as runners-up under Paul Heckingbottom in his first full season at the helm of the club.
Playoff final: Coventry City meets Luton Town at Wembley on Saturday for the final promotion spot. After a fifth-place finish, the Sky Blues defeated Middlesbrough 1-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals. They are looking to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2001 in what would be a remarkable rise for a team that was in League Two in 2018. Luton Town has never played in the Premier League and hasn't competed in the English top flight since 1960. Rob Edwards' side finished third this season and defeated Sunderland 3-2 on aggregate to advance to the final.
Champions: Barcelona — For the first time in four years, Barca are once again the champions of Spain for a 27th time. Next up for Xavi Hernandez's side will be a tricky summer transfer window in which they will hope for the return of club talisman Lionel Messi, but FIFA Fair Play regulations will have a huge bearing on any deals.
Champions League: Real Madrid and Atletico — With two league matches left to play, Madrid rivals Real and Atletico will join Barca in the Champions League next season. The record 14-time champions, Real will be looking to avenge this season's exit from the competition at the semi-finals stage at the hands of Manchester City, who thoroughly routed Los Blancos 4-0 in the second leg. Who will join Barca and the two Madrid sides is yet to be determined, but Real Sociedad is in the driver's seat. Currently in fourth and with a five-point lead over Villarreal, a single point from their last two matches, away to Atleti and home to Sevilla, would effectively clinch the final spot. Quique Setien's side would have to win both of its final matches, against Rayo Vallecano and Atleti, and hope Sociedad dropped both of theirs to reach Champions League. Sevilla could make it five Spanish sides in Champions League next season should they defeat Roma on Wednesday in the Europa League Final.
Europa League: Whichever of Sociedad or Villarreal finishes fifth will claim the first spot. Real Betis is on course for the second. Currently in sixth place with a six-point cushion over both Osasuna and Athletic Bilbao, a single point from their two remaining matches against Girona and Valencia will do the trick. Osasuna, who plays Getafe and Girona, and Bilbao, who still has Elche and Real Madrid remaining, would need to win out and hope that Betis loses their two remaining fixtures. Should goal differential come into play, Betis is at +4, while Osasuna sits at -5 and Bilbao is +5.
Europa Conference League: Things could get kind of messy here and there might not be any Spanish team in Conference League next season. UEFA maxes out a country's teams in European competition at eight. Sevilla is currently in 10th place and can still mathematically finish in seventh. Should Sevilla win Europa League next week and finish in seventh, there would be no Spanish team in Conference League. Should they win and finish outside of seventh, they would be Spain's eighth team in Europe next season and play in the Champions League. So if we remove Sevilla from the equation, Osasuna and Betis, currently level on 50 points, lead the race for seventh. Girona (ninth on 49) , Mallorca (11th on 47) and Rayo Vallecano (12th on 46) can also still mathematically finish in seventh.
Relegation: Elche — Dead last in the table on 21 points, Elche's survival hopes died quite some time ago and they were confirmed to go down very early in May. The team returns to Segunda Division for the first time in four seasons. Who will join them remains to be seen. Mathematically, anybody from 13th down is still in danger:
— Valencia: It would be truly shocking to see one of the crown jewels of Spanish football get relegated for the first time in 35 years. Valencia still has work to do to ensure safety. Currently two clear of the drop on 40 points, they take on relegation-threatened Espanyol at home and finish away to Betis. Valladolid can max out at 44 points, meaning that Valencia needs a win and a draw from their final two matches to ensure safety, but with four teams between them and the drop zone, it could effectively take less than that.
— Celta Vigo: Celta is in virtually the same position as Valencia, level on 40 points. They finish away to fellow strugglers Cadiz and then at home to Barca. Like Valencia, four points from their final two will ensure safety.
— Almeria: On 39 points, Almeria finishes up against two teams directly below them and whatever happens in their remaining fixtures will have significant bearing on how relegation plays out. Almeria hosts Valladolid on Sunday before finishing their season away to Espanyol. Their one-point cushion over Valladolid means that they still control their own destiny.
— Getafe: Getafe is only outside of the drop zone on goal difference, level on points with both Cadiz and Valladolid on 38. With a -12 differential, they are significantly clear of Cadiz (-24) and Valladolid (-30), leaving them also in control of their own destinies. Getafe hosts Osasuna, in a match with bearing for both Europe and relegation, on Sunday before concluding their season with a potentially monumental match away to Valladolid.
— Cadiz: On 38 points, equalling or bettering Valladolid is all Cadiz must do to remain in La Liga. They host Celta on Sunday before finishing up next week against the already relegated Elche.
— Valladolid: Of significant interest in Canada due to Cyle Larin's arrival in January, Valladolid is currently in 18th. Brampton, Ont.'s Larin is doing all he can to keep his new side in La Liga, including a goal-plus-assist performance in Tuesday's 3-1 win over Barca. Larin has eight goals in 17 league appearances since coming aboard on loan from Club Brugge. What could be a killer for Valladolid is their -30 goal differential, which is largely due to the team scoring one goal or fewer in 29 of their 36 matches. They finish away to Almeria and then at home to Getafe in matches against teams directly in front of them.
— Espanyol: Espanyol was relegated after 26 years in La Liga in 2019, but immediately returned to the top flight by finishing atop Segunda Division the following season. Their return to La Liga looks poised to end after only two seasons and that could be confirmed as early as Sunday. Anything less than a victory against Valencia will seal their fates. Should they pull out the three points, a final fixture with Almeria is still to come, but even if they were to claim all six points on offer, they would still need help from elsewhere. Simply put, it's an uphill battle.
Champions: For the first time since 2012, we might have a Bundesliga champion other than Bayern Munich. A tumultuous season at the Allianz Arena has seen Bayern's domestic supremacy falter with Thomas Tuchel's team trailing Borussia Dortmund by two points heading into the season's final matches on Saturday. A win over ninth-place Mainz at home will hand BVB its first German championship since 2012 and ninth overall. For Bayern to make it 11 straight titles, they will need to defeat 10th-place Koln away and hope that Dortmund drops points. Bayern's superior goal difference means they will claim the title should they finish level on points with Dortmund. A Bayern loss or draw will also see BVB crowned champions.
Champions League: Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig — Joining BVB and Bayern in Europe's top club competition next season will be RB Leipzig, whose 3-1 win over Bayern last weekend handed the initiative in the title race to Dortmund. It will be a fifth appearance in the Champions League for Leipzig, who reached the semi-finals in 2020. This means there is one final spot on offer. Union Berlin and Freiburg are level on 59 points, but Union has a +4 goal differential on their rivals. Union needs to match or better Freiburg on Saturday to reach the Champions League for a second consecutive season. They are at home to 12th-place Werder. Freiburg's fate is not in their own hands. They need to better Union's result on Saturday, which isn't possible with a Union win. Freiburg visits Eintracht as they look for a first ever Champions League appearance.
Europa League: The team that finishes in fifth between Union and Freiburg will take the first available Europa League place. The second spot will go to the victor in June 3's DFB-Pokal Final, but there's a bit of a complication here. The final will be contested between Eintracht and Leipzig, who have already qualified for the Champions League. Should Eintracht win, they will claim the Europa spot, but if Leipzig were to win, the spot would go to the sixth-place team in Bundesliga. Right now, that team is Bayer Leverkusen on 50 points. A victory over Bochum on Saturday would ensure a sixth-place finish. But Wolfsburg is still alive on 49 points and would cinch sixth with a win over relegated Hertha and a Leverkusen loss or draw. Things get dicey with a Bayer loss and a Wolfsburg draw. Right now, Leverkusen has a +1 goal differential over Wolfsburg, so a one-goal loss and a Wolfsburg draw would result in both teams on equal goal differential and 50 points. The next tiebreaker is goals for and right now Leverkusen has 57 to Wolfsburg's 56. Should we go on to a further tiebreaker, it's head-to-head points and, wouldn't you know, both matches between the two teams finished in draws this season. Wolfsburg would get the nod on the fifth tiebreaker by virtue of better head-to-head away goals, thanks to their 2-2 draw at Leverkusen in October.
Europa Conference League: Right now, the sixth-place finisher will head to Conference League, but that would become seventh-place should Leipzig win the DFB-Pokal. In that case, it would be Leverkusen, Wolfsburg or Eintracht themselves even if they lose the Cup final. Eintracht would finish seventh if they were to defeat Freiburg and Wolfsburg falls to Hertha.
Relegation: Hertha — Hertha was condemned to the drop thanks to Keven Schlotterbeck's stoppage-time equalizer last Saturday as Bochum earned a point in a 1-1 draw. Hertha will now play in 2.Bundesliga for the first time since 2013 after a decade-long run in the top flight. The other automatic relegation spot will be decided this weekend:
— Schalke: Currently in 17th on 31 points and a -34 goal differential, Schalke effectively must defeat Leipzig on Saturday to avoid the automatic drop. What could work in their favour is the fact that Leipzig is locked into third place and has the DFB-Pokal Final next weekend, meaning that Marco Rose might not field a first-choice team. Schalke was relegated after 29 years in the Bundesliga in 2021, but came right back up by winning the 2.Bundesliga title last season. Should Stuttgart and Bochum win, Schalke would be condemned to relegation.
— Bochum: In 16th as it stands, Bochum would face a playoff with the third place team in 2.Bundesliga — either Heidenheim or Hamburg — to remain in the top flight. They can still finish as high as 14th with a victory over Leverkusen, but a loss and a Schalke win would condemn them to automatic relegation.
— Stuttgart: At home to Hoffenheim, a victory would ensure Stuttgart, currently in 15th on 32 points and level with Bochum, remains in the Bundesliga. A loss or draw still leaves them open to the possibility of automatic relegation.
— Augsburg: Augsburg has a +15 goal differential on Schalke, which means they effectively can't be automatically relegated no matter what happens on Saturday. They could still find themselves in the playoff, however. A win at Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday would make that an impossibility.
Champions: While not officially locked up, Paris Saint-Germain is comfortably on course for a record 11th league title and ninth in 11 years with two matches remaining on their schedule. Six points clear of second-place Lens, the title belongs to Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and the rest of Christophe Galtier's star-studded side with a single point in their final two matches against Strasbourg and Clermont. PSG would also win the title if Lens drops any points in their final two contests against Ajaccio or Auxerre. And even if PSG were to drop their final two matches and Lens would win theirs, Lens would still have to overturn PSG's +16 differential. The title race is effectively over.
Champions League: Paris Saint-Germain, Lens and Marseille — Ligue 1 is allocated two group-stage spots for the Champions League and the third-place team enters in the third qualifying round. PSG has already earned a group-stage spot and Lens and Marseille will make at least the qualifying round. A single point from their final two matches will effectively be enough for Lens to reach the group stage. Marseille must win their final two matches, against Brest and Ajaccio, and hope that Lens loses out in order to avoid the play-in round.
Europa League: Toulouse — Toulouse is heading back to Europe for the first time since 2008, thanks to their 5-1 Coupe de France triumph over Nantes at the end of April. With Toulouse currently 13th in the table, that means fourth-place in Ligue 1 earns a Europa League place. Three teams can still finish fourth. Monaco currently holds fourth on 65 points (+15), with Lille in fifth on 63 (+20) and Rennes in sixth on 62 (+27). The race for the final Europa League spot will likely go down to the final matchday of the season next weekend, but Saturday's match between Rennes and Monaco will go a long way into deciding things. A loss by Rennes would rule them out of fourth place. Monaco finishes their season away to Toulouse, while Rennes will end their season away to Brest. Jonathan David and Lille finish up with relegation-threatened Nantes and fellow Canada international Ike Ugbo's already relegated Troyes. Two wins and a draw in the Rennes-Monaco match would give LOSC fourth.
Europa Conference League: The same three teams looking to reach Europa League are vying for the consolation prize of Conference League and whichever of Monaco, Lille or Rennes finishes fifth will head to UEFA's tertiary competition. The sixth-place side will miss out on Europe altogether.
Relegation: Angers, Ajaccio and Troyes — For 2023-2024, Ligue 1 is moving from 20 teams to 18 teams, meaning that four teams instead of the normal three are being relegated this year. Angers, Ajaccio and Troyes have already been doomed to the drop. They will be joined by one of two other teams:
— Auxerre: Auxerre currently occupies the final safe spot in 16th on 34 points, one clear of Nantes. They also hold a +8 goal difference on their rivals. Auxerre finishes their season against a Toulouse side with nothing to play for away before finishing at home to Lens. The Lens match might also end up not having any meaning for Auxerre's opposition as Lens's title contention will likely end on Saturday. Should PSG slip up, however, the Lens match might become high-stakes.
— Nantes: Because of goal difference, Auxerre's one-point lead over Nantes is effectively two. Nantes's latest decade-long run in Ligue 1 will come to an end if they can't find a way to overtake Auxerre in their final two matchdays. Nantes finishes their season away to LOSC and then at home to already relegated Angers.
Champions: Napoli — Luciano Spalletti's side celebrated their first Scudetto victory in 33 years when first place was clinched on May 4 in a 1-1 draw with Udinese, making their lead atop the table unassailable. But things could change in a hurry for the new champions with Spalletti seemingly set to leave the club after a falling out with management and a host of big clubs coming for stars like Nigeria forward Victor Osimhen and South Korea defender Kim Min-jae in the summer transfer window. The Napoli team that takes the field to start next season could look very different in a number of regards.
Champions League: Lazio — Currently in second on 68 points with two matches remaining, Maurizio Sarri's Lazio can't be caught by fifth-place Atalanta and have locked up Champions League football for next season. This year's Champions League finalist Inter looks likely to join Napoli and Lazio. One point from their remaining two matches, against Atalanta and Torino, will do the trick. Of course, Inter can also qualify for next season's Champions League regardless of where they finish in the table with a win over Manchester City on June 10 in Istanbul. Milan, who Inter defeated to reach the Champions League Final, is also a good bet to return to Europe's top competition next season. Four points from their final two matches against Juventus and Verona will be enough to ensure Champions League football. Atalanta's path is trickier. Winning out against Inter and Monza would go a long way to help their cause, but they would still need help. Roma, currently in sixth, is also still alive on 60 points and they finish their season away to Fiorentina and at home to Spezia. But they have a much easier way to reach the Champions League than finishing top four. A win over Sevilla in the Europa League Final on Wednesday would put Jose Mourinho's side back in the Champions League for the first time in four years. Getting docked 10 points for past transfer dealings has effectively ended Juventus's Champions League hopes. Currently in seventh, Juve will be eliminated from Champions League contention by Milan earning one more point.
Europa League: Inter can't finish any lower than fifth, so they are guaranteed at least a Europa League spot. The sixth place team will also earn a Europa League spot and that will be one of the teams above that miss out on Champions League. Fiorentina can also reach Europa League next season should they defeat West Ham in June 7's Europa Conference League Final.
Europa Conference League: The one Conference League place will go to the seventh-place finisher and that will be one of the team's mentioned above.
Relegation: Sampdoria and Cremonese — Sampdoria and Cremonese will both be playing in Serie B next season with Samp's relegation confirmed on May 8 with a 2-0 loss to Udinese that ends their run in the top flight at just over a decade and Cremonese's drop ensured last weekend when Spezia and Lecce drew. The final team to go down is yet to be determined:
— Lecce: In 16th on 33 points, Lecce is guaranteed to survive with one win in their final two matches against Monza and Bologna. Any loss by Verona would also keep them safe.
— Spezia: In the final safe spot and one point clear of Verona, Spezia finishes their season at home to Torino and away to Roma. They must stay ahead of Verona to maintain their Serie A status.
— Verona: Currently in the final relegation spot, Verona has work to do. They must overtake one of Lecce or Spezia in their final two matches, a home date with Empoli and a visit to the San Siro and a date with Milan. Should they finish level on points with Spezia or Lecce, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head points.