From Juventus’ Serie A winning streak coming to an end to Liverpool falling flat in the Premier League, 2020/21 has been a season full of surprises.
Bayern Munich and Inter Milan are the only two teams in Europe’s top five leagues to be crowned champions so far, with the former lifting the league title on a record ninth successive occasion while the latter clinching their first Scudetto in over a decade.
Of course, Manchester City – unless they somehow severely underperform in their last three games – are expected to get the top-flight crown, but the title race is mathematically still open.
Those are the success stories, and there are stories of struggles by top clubs as well this season. The likes of Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Lazio have severely underperformed this term and therefore risk an atypical outside of top-four finish in their respective leagues.
Here are the top five players who could miss out on Champions League football next season:
The thought of Cristiano Ronaldo not playing in the Champions League and him playing in the Europa League is equally astounding – he’s ‘Mr. Champions League’ after all. He has numerous records to his name in the competition including most goals, most goals in a season, most assists, most hat-tricks, and most free-kicks.
Ronaldo has participated in every edition of Europe’s most prestigious club competition ever since bursting onto the scene with Manchester United in 2003/04.
However, he could be forced to play in the Europa League next season as Juventus are down at fifth place in Serie A standings with three matches left to play.
Champions League might be a relatively new stage for Erling Haaland but early signs show he enjoys it as much as Ronaldo.
The Norwegian hitman is the youngest player to hit 20 goals in the competition at 20 years & 231 days, the quickest to reach the 20-goal landmark in just 14 appearances, and holds the record for scoring most goals (19) before turning 21.
Haaland, however, might not get to break more CL records next season. While Borussia Dortmund currently occupy fourth place in the league table, a top-four Bundesliga finish is not yet guaranteed with Eintracht Frankfurt breathing down their necks.
In the running to clinch his third Premier League Golden Boot with a tally of 20 goals from 33 appearances so far, Mohamed Salah is enjoying a productive season – but his productivity hasn’t done Liverpool much good.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were expected to successfully defend their league crown. Not only have they failed to do so, but they also risk finishing the campaign with the lowest place in the table since 2015/16. The Reds currently sit sixth in the Premier League standings, six points away from a top-four place with four games left to play.
Harry Kane’s future at Tottenham is in doubt as it is and the club’s failure to secure European qualification could further diminish the chances of the striker staying put.
Tottenham risk missing out on Champions League as well as Europa League football next season as they are down at seventh in the league table, having amassed 56 points from 35 games so far.
Lazio have a game in hand over Juventus, who sit just above them in Serie A standings in fifth place. However, even a win would be of no help for Biancocelesti for overtaking the Bianconeri as a five-point gap exists between the two teams.
Lazio can only aim to not drop points anymore and hope for a team above them to slip up. If not, Ciro Immobile, who won the European Golden Boot last season, will be playing in the Europa League in 2020/21.