Manchester United are in a similar situation to this stage last season but this time their fortunes are slightly more favourable as they struggle to clinch a top four finish again.
A year ago, United were competing with City to finish fourth but Liverpool had reached the Europa League final in Basel where they were due to face Sevilla.
In an attempt to give clubs an added incentive to win the Europa League, Uefa has decided to award the winners a Champions League qualifying spot for the following campaign and Jurgen Klopp’s side would have hosted European football had they beaten Sevilla. Instead, they were battered 3-1.
So would a United Europa League success mean scupper City’s chances of Champions League football if they finished fourth? And do they need a play-off?
Had Leicester topped their remarkable Premier League triumph last season and won the Champions League then City’s place in the competition next term would have been in serious jeopardy.
Countries are permitted a maximum of five teams in the competition, and a Leicester and United European double would have kicked City into the Europa League even if they finished fourth.
Now City are out of Europe, the scenario is simpler. A fourth-place finish for Pep Guardiola’s side will ensure they play in a Champions League qualifier in August.
Should United beat Celta Vigo and then Ajax or Lyon in the Europa League final, then five English clubs will enter the Champions League in 2017-18.
Top two teams Chelsea and Tottenham seem guaranteed an automatic qualifying berth and City could yet avoid a summer qualifier if they finish above Liverpool in third.
“The UEFA Europa League winners enter in the UEFA Champions League (at a minimum level of the play-offs).
“The UEFA Europa League winners enter in the group stage if the UEFA Champions League winners qualify directly for the UEFA Champions League group stage via their domestic league programme. This is what happened the past two seasons after success for Barcelona and Real Madrid. The Europa League winners in both campaigns were Sevilla.”