On the eve of FC Köln’s Europa Conference League play-off round tie against Féhérvar, let’s take a look at who will be representing the Bundesliga in Europe this season.
For the first time in a decade, a country will have eight teams representing them on the European stage in one season. England was the last one to benefit, courtesy of an old format.
Back then, UEFA permitted the three best countries in a fair play ranking from the previous season to send an extra team into Europe. This was a way of promoting good sportsmanship and respect on and off the field.
England was one of three countries that benefitted, with West Ham taking part in Europa League qualifying as a result. That was the last season in which these fair play spots were handed out.
Fast forward 10 years and now it is Germany who will be fortunate enough to have an extra European spot. This comes as a result of Eintracht Frankfurt winning last May’s Europa League final on penalties over Rangers.
Die Adler will enter at the Champions League group stage despite not qualifying for Europe via the Bundesliga nor DFB Pokal. It has been a quarter of a century the last time a team won a UEFA club competition but did not qualify for Europe via domestic performance.
Funny enough, it was another Bundesliga side, Schalke, who last achieved this feat. The Gelsenkirchen club went all the way in the UEFA Cup back in 1996/97 despite finishing 14th in the Bundesliga.
Joining Oliver Glasner’s Frankfurt in the Champions League groups are Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen, the top four finishers in last year’s Bundesliga. Germany is the third country to have five teams in the Champions League in one season, with England and Spain also enjoying such a privilege.
The Europa League will have Freiburg and Union Berlin, the latter participating in Europe for the second year running. Christian Streich’s Freiburg just missed out on the Champions League, having to make do with Europa League football.
Köln is Germany’s sole Europa Conference League side, having finished seventh in the Bundesliga. They face Féhérvar, the fourth place side of Hungary last campaign. Köln’s last European foray saw them finish third in their 2017/18 Europa League group, behind Arsenal and Crvena Zvezda, but ahead of BATE Borisov.