0652 GMT March 20, 2019
United won 1-0 at Celta Vigo in the first leg of its Europa League semifinal on Thursday to put itself in a strong position in the tie, skysports.com reported.
With a top-four finish in the Premier League in the balance, winning the Europa League appears to be United's best chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season.
Since 2014/15 the winner of the competition has been guaranteed a Champions League place, but not necessarily a group-stage place. That depends on who wins the Champions League.
If the Champions League winner would also qualify for the tournament the following season through its domestic league finish, then the Europa League winner goes into the group stage.
But if the team that wins the Champions League does not also qualify via its league finish, then the Europa League winner faces a playoff to qualify for the Champions League.
That appears to be good news for United this season, unless Atletico Madrid wins the Champions League.
That's because the three other semifinalists – Juventus, Real Madrid and Monaco – are all going to qualify for next year's competition through their league finish.
But Atletico could still finish fourth, which would mean it would not qualify directly into the group stage. There is still a small chance Atletico could miss out on the top four altogether and finish fifth.
So if last year’s runner-up won the Champions League and United won the Europa League then the Premier League side would need to navigate a playoff.
That appears unlikely, though, as Atletico lost the first leg of its semifinal 3-0 to Real Madrid.
If United wins the Europa League and finishes in the top four in the Premier League, then the top-four sides will all qualify for the Champions League group stage.
Again, that would only change if Atletico won the Champions League and did not finish in the top three in La Liga.
If United does finish fourth and wins the Europa League then fifth place in the Premier League will not qualify for the Champions League.
But Manchester United’s place in the Europa League third qualifying round from winning the EFL Cup would go to the next-highest ranked team in the Premier League that has not qualified for Europe.