Analysing Champions League qualification scenarios in Europe's top 5 leagues
Some are almost there; some are already there...some risk missing out.
We're now into the final month of the 2017/18 season in Europe's club football. Leagues in Germany and England draw to a close this weekend, while that in Spain, France, and Italy in the next.
Barring the Serie A, the rest of the top five leagues have produced a winner already. The relegation scenario is heating up too, while the fight for Europe across the leagues is edgier.
Some big boys stare at the ignominy of missing out on Europe's holy grail, while there are minnows that are on the cusp of a Champions League qualification against all the odds. But the margins, everywhere, admittedly remain thin. The race is set to go down right to the wire.
So let's analyze where things stand right now in the fight for Champions League places in Europe's top 5 leagues:
#5 Ligue 1
Already Qualified: PSG (champions)
In the reckoning: Lyon, Monaco, Marseille
PSG successfully wrestled back the supremacy of the league from AS Monaco, who have receded significantly this season. Currently, they lie third in the standings with 74 points, just one adrift of Lyon, who are aiming to return to Europe after a year-long absence.
Olympique Marseille, Europa League finalists this year, are further down on fourth with 73 points.
The thing is, only one of these can secure a direct qualification into the group stages of Champions League next season. Lyon need just 5 more points from the remaining 2 games to secure a runners-up finish, as they boast a vastly superior goal-difference to that of Monaco.
The Leonardo Jardim-led side have a tough fixture against 6th-placed St.Etienne at home this Sunday, and anything but a win would open the door for Marseille to sneak in.
Les Olympiens might win both their remaining games, and still not qualify, for they need either of these two sides to drop points as their prospects otherwise appear quite bleak.
However, one lifeline here is the Europa League final - win and participate in the Champions League next season. But, standing in their way are the mighty Atletico Madrid, who are heavy favorites to nick it.
Even if all three teams somehow do end up with the same points tally, then goal-difference comes into the picture, in which case, Lyon are likely to go through for vastly superior goal-difference compared to Monaco and Marseille.