Aston Villa qualify for Champions League: Unai Emery leads side into competition for first time since 1983 | Football News | Sky Sports

by alejandro1812

Aston Villa will play in the Champions League for the first time since 1983 after Tottenham were beaten 2-0 by Manchester City on Tuesday.

Unai Emery has enjoyed an impressive first full season at Villa Park, guiding his side to the Europa Conference League semi-finals and now confirming a top-four Premier League spot for the first time since 1996.

Tottenham are now unable to catch Villa ahead of their final game of the season at Sheffield United on Sunday, losing 2-0 to Erling Haaland’s double on Tuesday night.

Spurs have lost five of their last six games, meaning they’ll have to settle for Europa League football next season.

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Villa’s qualification marks just the seventh time a non ‘big-six’ side have qualified for the Champions League in the Premier League era, following Blackburn, Newcastle (x3), Leeds and Leicester – with the Foxes qualifying eight years ago.

Villa have been in the top five since September and have spent more than 150 days in the top-four spots – their most in a Premier League season since 1998/99, when they ultimately finished sixth under John Gregory.

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Highlights from the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool

Neville: Amazing achievement

Sky Sports’ Gary Neville paid tribute to Emery’s Villa on his podcast, saying: “It’s an amazing achievement for Unai Emery to get into fourth place.

“They had all those other clubs that spent all that money, not just in the last 12 to 18 months, two years. Those clubs have been amassing and accumulating players for billions, a lot of them over the last five, six years.

“For Aston Villa, to be where they are, where in their recent history they’ve been relegated; they’ve found themselves in relegation scraps in the Premier League in the last four or five years.

“It’s an amazing achievement and well done to them. It’s a great club and they deserve what they’ve got this season.”

How does the new Champions League format work?

Villa will now enter the group stage of the revamped Champions League in September. For the first time, the competition will include one 36-team group, with each side taking on eight others, either home or away.

Teams who finish in the top eight of the group will automatically qualify for the last 16, with those ninth to 24th going into a two-legged play-off stage.

After that, the competition will continue in its existing knockout format, leading up to the 2024/25 final at Munich’s Allianz Arena on May 31.

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