Eintracht Frankfurt has qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage after winning the UEFA Europa League!
Frankfurt has never played in the Champions League, and their only season in the European Cup was in 1959/60, when they reached the final.
Were Europa League champions always guaranteed a spot in the Champions League?
The rule was first implemented in the 2014/15 season – for entry into the 2015/16 competition – though winners were initially only guaranteed a Champions League play-off spot, going straight into the group stage, if either they or the Champions League holders had already qualified through their domestic league.
This is exactly what happened during the three seasons when that regulation was in effect. It went to automatic entry for the 2018/19 season in 2017/18.
However, if the Europa League winners had already qualified for the group stage through their home league, the third-place team from the fifth-ranked association – currently France – would be entered.
Prior to last season, when Villarreal won the Spanish Liga, Europa League winners Atlético de Madrid, Chelsea, and Sevilla had already qualified through their local league, allowing France to secure another group stage ticket.
Who has benefited so far?
2014/15 and 2015/16: Winners Sevilla (finished 5th and 7th in Liga respectively for that season)
2016/17: Winners Manchester United (6th in Premier League)
2017/18 and 2018/19: Lyon
2020/21: Winners Villarreal (7th in Liga)
2021/22: Frankfurt (11th in Bundesliga)
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