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9 clubs we can’t believe are in danger of failing to qualify for European football

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Several behemoths from around Europe look set to miss out on European football next season, even with the men’s game now boasting three tiers of European competition.

Have we said ‘Europe’ enough yet? No, we don’t think so either. For the sake of a cup run, the unforgettable away days for fans, players and staff alike, and of course the prize money that comes with it, a European campaign is a must for most top clubs these days.

But even with UEFA’s three huge competitions, some teams have to miss out. We’ve pulled together a list of nine surprising names on the brink of missing out altogether for the 2024-25 season.

Napoli

This time last year, the streets of Naples continued to be flooded in sky blue as its citizens celebrated Napoli’s triumph, winning Serie A for the first time since 1990.

Things couldn’t be any different one season on. And while fans wouldn’t swap last season for the world, they’d have hoped for a better title defence, with Gli Azzurri sitting eighth in the Serie A table with two games to play, an astounding 41 points behind 2023-24 champions Inter and 12 points adrift of fifth-placed Atalanta, who look set for Champions League football.

Napoli’s 2023-24 campaign has been a disaster and they could well miss out on European football altogether as a result. Their only hope of salvaging European football is by beating Fiorentina in gameweek 37 and leapfrogging them for the Europa Conference League qualifying spot. An almighty fall from the top.

Lyon

Lyon have recovered things after a truly awful first half of the 2023-24 season saw them genuinely threatened by relegation from Ligue 1, only really managing to claw themselves away from the danger of the drop following the turn of the new year.

They’ve done that now and do look much better for it, having lost just two Ligue 1 games since February, but their upturn in form – while enough to quieten the ultras for a while – hasn’t been enough to see them recover a place in Europe next season.

With one game to play, they’re in eighth and level on points with seventh-placed Lens who occupy the Europa Conference League qualifying spot and have a vastly superior goal difference. Lyon need to win their game and hope Lens slip up to mid-table Montpellier in order to snatch the spot.

Marseille

Sticking in France, Champions League winners Marseille have enjoyed a resurgence in form in recent years, finishing third last season and second the season before, but have fallen away again in 2023-24 and sit three points behind Lyon with one game to go.

It means that any hope of European football is as good as gone unless both teams above them slip up and they can sneak into the Europa Conference League on goal difference.

Jean-Louis Gasset’s side enjoyed a deep run in the Europa League and could’ve perhaps snagged a Champions League spot if they’d won the competition, but were knocked out in the semi-final by Atalanta and now look set for a 2024-25 campaign without any European football. Ouch.


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Union Berlin

After a 2022-23 season of dreams, it’s quickly turned into a nightmare for Union Berlin this season.

Having established themselves as the Bundesliga’s plucky underdogs punching above their weight, they went a step further last season and finished fourth, qualifying for this season’s Champions League.

However, that seems to have derailed their league campaign considerably, with long-term manager Urs Fischer leaving in November after a run of 15 games without a win and his replacement Nenad Bjelica being sacked with two games left to play and Union scrapping to stay in the top-flight.

They need a win against Freiburg and a slip-up from Mainz on the final day to try and sneak out of the relegation play-off.

West Ham

After three consecutive seasons of European football under David Moyes, including *that* night in Prague, West Ham are set to miss out on Europe altogether for next season.

Moyes has split opinion for as long as he’s been at West Ham for his second spell, but his pragmatic style of play suited the Hammers in Europe and after reaching the Europa League semi-final in 2021-22, they went all the way in the Conference League the following season, lifting the trophy by beating Fiorentina.

It’s not been quite so smooth sailing this season, however, with West Ham eight points adrift of Chelsea heading into the final gameweek of the Premier League season. Whoever succeeds Moyes next season will have plenty of time to focus on bringing them back up the league table once again.

Manchester United

Having perhaps slightly overachieved in his first season in securing a top-four finish, Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United have underachieved in their second season and European football very much hangs in the balance.

Before England’s underperformance in European competition lost them an extra Champions League spot, the Red Devils were – for some reason – slightly hopeful that they could sneak into the Champions League.

Failure to win a league game throughout April and most of May has decimated that hope, however, with United sat eighth heading into the final day of the season and hoping for a Newcastle slip-up to secure Conference League football, or a shock FA Cup final win against Manchester City to sneak into the Europa League. It’s looking bleak.

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Basel

Despite going as far as the semi-final in this season’s Europa Conference League and being a regular name in the Champions League for much of the 2010s, a poor domestic season leaves Basel without any European football next season.

The Swiss side have actually found themselves split off into the relegation group of the top-flight at the end of the season. And while it looks highly unlikely that they’ll actually be relegated from the position they’re in, Europe is off the cards for 2024-25. A shock upset.

Olympiacos

Even more astoundingly, Greek outfit Olympiacos are braced for the Europa Conference League final against Fiorentina this season, but are clinging on domestically in a bid to not lose their qualification spot for next season.

Sat on 73 points, Panathinaikos are hot on their tail just two points behind and host Olympiacos in the final round of the season, in what will be a straight shootout for European football next season.

If Olympiacos lose in the league, they’ll have to find a way past Fiorentina in the final, which would hotshot them into the 2024-25 Europa League.

Sevilla

If football had an intercontinental champion, Sevilla would be the benchmark for it. Kings of the mid-card title, they’ve won the Europa League a ridiculous seven times.

Yet despite that record in Europe’s second-tier competition, their league campaign in 2023-24 has been sub-par and sees them stranded in La Liga’s mid-table. They actually did the same last season, but were already in European competition and won the Europa League, which papered over the cracks.

But after finishing bottom of their Champions League group, their European campaign quickly came to an end and this time there’s no hiding from the disappointment of their domestic campaign.

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