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Serie A Closes In On A Fourth Champions League Place

updated-champions-league-trophyA successful night of Europa League action has allowed Italy’s Serie A to eat into the deficit on the English Premier League in UEFA’s coefficient rankings.

HHaving already relinquished second spot to Germany’s Bundesliga at the start of the season, the Premier League is in danger of losing a Champions League berth to Serie A for the 2017-18 season.

That will happen if Italian clubs get consistently good results and the Premier League continues to disappoint in Europe — and Thursday’s Europa League results have boosted Italy’s hopes.

Napoli, Lazio and Fiorentina all won their Europa League matches on Thursday night while Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur were held to draws.

England had actually stretched its lead in the early weeks of the season due to four teams reaching the Champions League group stage, and the points picked up by Manchester United, Southampton and West Ham United in qualifying, as Sampdoria failed to make it past the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

With Juventus winning at home to Sevilla, Roma were the only Italian club not to be victorious in Europe this week as they were beaten 3-2 at BATE Borisov. But only Manchester City and Manchester United won of England’s participants.

England has six clubs still competing in Europe while Italy only has five, yet that has not prevented the gap for the current season from being more than halved in the past three days. Italy now trails England by 0.375 points and needs to make up another 3.47 points to draw level.

Spain is way out in front in first place, with Germany — which actually suffered a slightly worse week than the Premier League — just ahead of England and not safe itself.

The main difference continues to be seen in the Europa League with Italy’s three representatives all taking the competition seriously on Thursday, as they did last season with both Napoli and Fiorentina reaching the semifinals.

Napoli lead their group with six points while Lazio top Group G with four. Fiorentina are also on course for qualification out of Group I having recovered from defeat by Basel to thrash Belenenses 4-0.

Liverpool’s draw at home to Sion leaves them behind the Swiss in Group B with just two points, although Spurs — one Premier League club to have shown commitment to the Europa League in recent years with a quarterfinal appearance in 2012-13 — are top of Group J.

Spurs head to Anderlecht in a fortnight’s time, when Liverpool host Rubin Kazan. In the Champions League, Arsenal face arguably their two most difficult group fixtures — having already lost twice — against Bayern Munich, Chelsea have Dynamo Kiev, Manchester United meet CSKA Moscow and Manchester City look to rescue their Champions League future with home and away ties with Sevilla.

Roma and Juventus both have German opponents in their Champions League double-headers, against Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach respectively.

In the Europea League, Fiorentina meet Lech Poznan, Lazio face Rosenborg and Napoli take on FC Midtjylland.

The Premier League will be hoping to consolidate their advantage over Serie A in those matches, aware that the Italians are breathing ever more menacingly down their necks for that fourth Champions League berth in 2017-18, which will affect qualification places in the league in 2016-17.

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