The Race for Third Place in the UEFA Country Ranking

27 April 2010

With Bayern Munich’s 3-0 victory Tuesday at the Stade Gerland, the race for third place in the UEFA County Ranking standings, currently being battled out between Italy and Germany, picked up plenty of steam. It could also be the day the entire race swung in Germany’s favor. While this will mean nothing for the 2010-2011 UEFA competitions, it means everything starting with the 2011-2012 European club competitions.

For those wondering why this is a big deal, third place in these rankings guarantees 3 Champions League places with the opportunity for a fourth to qualify in the final non-champions qualification round. At worse, fourth place in those leagues will be playing in the group stage of the UEFA Europa League.  Finishing fourth in these standings means only first and second go into the Champions League, with third place fighting it out in the final non-champions qualifier for the Champions League. The difference between third and fourth is having a seventh team playing European football.

After today’s Bayern Munich victory, Germany leapfrogged Italy for the third ranking spot. It also means even if Inter Milan beat Barcelona on Wednesday (which would temporarily put Italy back into third place), Hamburg on Thursday could guarantee Germany finishing in third place by winning against Fulham.

This is about the easiest way to simplified all the scenarios.
* If Inter Milan loses Wednesday and goes out of the Champions League, Germany will lock third place.
* If Inter Milan loses Wednesday and advances to the Champions League final, the only chance Italy has of finishing in the third spot is by seeing Hamburg lose outright to Fulham on Thursday. Then, Inter Milan has to beat Bayern Munich in the final for Italy to clinch third place. A 120 minute draw or Bayern Munich winning sees Germany clinch the third spot.
* If Hamburg matches or does better than an Inter Milan draw, and Hamburg advance either through away goals or penalty kicks, or Hamburg wins, Germany locks third place regardless of the results in the respective finals.
* If both Inter Milan and Hamburg draw and Hamburg does not advance, then the winner of the Inter Milan/Bayern Munich game would clinch third place for their respective country. If after 120 minutes, the Inter Milan/Bayern Munich game ends in a draw, Germany locks third place.
* If Inter Milan draws and Hamburg loses outright, Inter Milan has to beat Bayern Munich outright in the Champions League final for Italy to keep their third spot. If it’s a 120 minute draw, then Italy will keep the third spot.
* If Inter Milan wins or Hamburg draws: If Hamburg advances, Germany locks third place. If Hamburg does not advance, then the winner of the Inter Milan/Bayern Munich game would clinch third place for their respective country. If after 120 minutes the Inter Milan/Bayern Munich game ends in a draw, Germany locks third place.
* If Inter Milan beats Barcelona and Hamburg loses outright to Fulham on Thursday, Italy can keep the third spot by either drawing or beating Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. If Bayern Munich wins, then Germany will take the third spot.

Again, let me remind you that this is not for next season, but for the 2011-2012 European Club season.  This is mostly to ensure that all clubs know going into the upcoming season what places will qualify you for what competition. As long as Germany doesn’t tank in next year’s European competitions, or Italy dominates both the Champions League and Europa League, it could be at least three years before Italy can overtake for the third UEFA Country Ranking spot.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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