Spain has five teams in Champions League group stage….

Alvaro Negredo

Spain became the first nation to have five teams qualify for the Champions League group stages as Valencia beat Monaco in a qualifying play-off. The 2001 runners-up join Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. Sevilla are also in the draw after qualifying via their triumph in last season’s Europa League. The draw for the group stages will be made on Thursday. Valencia secured their place via a 4-3 aggregate victory, despite a 2-1 defeat in France. Former Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo scored the visitors’ crucial away goal. This was the first season that is was possible for one nation to have five team in the 32-team group stages, with UEFA introducing a Champions League place as a prize for the Europa League winners in 2014-15. Spanish teams have won four of the last seven Champions League, with Barcelona defeating Juventus in May’s final. Spain lead UEFA’s the club coefficient rankings  – the system used to decide which leagues get most qualifying spots for its competitions – by a considerable margin.

Liverpool F.C. qualified for the 2005–06 UEFA Champions League by a special dispensation from UEFA. The Premier League was allocated four places in the 2005-06 Champions League season as of right. UEFA allowed Liverpool to compete as champions of the 2004–05 UEFA Champions League, but would not allocate an extra place. The selection of the four clubs to enter the Champions League was the decision of the  English Football Association (FA). The FA’s rule was that the first four in the final English Premier League table would enter the Champions League. The FA were firm on this ruling, awarding the fourth and final English place in the competition to Liverpool’s local rivals Everton F.C., since Everton finished fourth in the 2004–05 FA Premier League. Liverpool had finished fifth in the table. The public reaction to this decision prompted UEFA to make a one-off exception for Liverpool to enter the tournament, as the winners of the Champions League had traditionally entered the tournament the next season to defend the title, while also keeping Everton’s spot which gave English teams five places for the 2005-06 Champions League. UEFA amended the qualification criteria for the Champions League winner to enter the subsequent tournament to prevent a recurrence. Everton, then featuring Nigeria’s Joseph Yobo and Victor Anichebe, however did not make it to the group stages after being eliminated in the qualifying round by Villarreal. When Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in 2001-12 season, it was not only their first Champions League Cup, but it also guaranteed them a spot in the 2012-13 Champions League. And with the new UEFA rule, that win knocked Tottenham Hotspur out of the tournament after the White Hart Lane team had finished fourth on the English Premiership table.

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