- Premier League campaigners Manchester United returned to Champions League football this season after winning the Europa League last term
- United benefited from UEFA's new rule to go straight into the group stage of the championship after triumphing in the Europe's second tier tourney
- Meanwhile, their qualification ensured English teams had five teams in the tourney at the beginning of the UEFA elite's competition
Manchester United crashed out of the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League champions at the round of 16 through a 2-1 defeat to Spanish mid-table team, Sevilla in April.
But despite finishing outside of the traditional top four spots in the EPL last season, the Red Devils' triumph in the Europa League handed they progressed straight to the group stage of Europe's elite competition.
Their victory also made sure that Premier League teams had five campaigners in this year’s edition of the championship – three of which didn’t go past the second round of the tournament.
According to UEFA, this season is the fourth time the winners of the UEFA Europa League gained automatic entry into the Champions League.
Sevilla did it twice and Manchester United once. Sevilla took the berth in 2015/16 despite finishing fifth in the Liga in 2014/15, meaning Spain had a record five teams in the UEFA Champions’ League group stage.
Another UEFA Europa League triumph in Basel that season meant the Andalusian side, only seventh in the Liga, again took a group stage spot for 2016/17.
However, Manchester United's success as UEFA Europa League winners propelled them into the group stage of the UCL championship despite finishing outside the top four in the EPL.
A feat that gave England a chance to have five sides compete in this season's UCL group stage.
Meanwhile, not more than five teams from a particular league are guaranteed entry into European top league per season.
So, how did Manchester United qualify for this year’s Champions’ League group stage?
Manchester United qualified for this year’s UEFA Champions’ League group stage due to their triumph in last season’s Europa League tournament.
They defeated Ajax 2-1 in the final of UEFA's second tier competition to ensure England parade four teams at the European competition.
However, that would not have been made possible if Real Madrid’s, the defending champions had not finished up in the UCL spot on the Spanish League table.
Meaning that the Red Devils would have made it through, but at the expense of the team that finished fourth in the EPL last season, which would have dropped into Europa League spot.
In essence, the team that finished fourth – like Liverpool did last term, would have been sacrificed in the Europe’s top competition to accommodate the champions of the continent at both levels.
While Liverpool would have been pushed to play in the Europa League this season, but England had five representatives in this year’s edition due to the fact that Madrid won the title, but also finished in the Champions League spot on the LA Liga table last season.
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