West Ham save French football’s blushes with victory over AZ Alkmaar

West Ham United’s 2-1 victory over AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA Europa Conference League has ensured that France will finish fifth in the UEFA index, thus ensuring that Ligue 1 will gain another Champions League spot when the format of the competition changes for the 2024/25 season. 

Paris Saint-Germain were knocked out by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, whilst FC Nantes, Stade Rennais and AS Monaco slumped to disappointing defeats in the opening knockout round of the UEFA Europa League. That left OGC Nice as France’s last man standing, but they were knocked out in the quarter-final of the UEFA Europa Conference League by FC Basel. 

That result took France’s destiny out of their own hands and meant that they were reliant upon other teams to knock out the remaining Eredivisie sides. Alkmaar are the only Dutch side that remain, but regardless of whether they overturn their 2-1 deficit, or not, it will be insufficient to help the Dutch league climb above the French league, according to L’ÉquipeAlkmaar needed to win both legs against West Ham, as well as the final to secure the fifth spot in the UEFA index rankings. 

As a result, from the 2024/25 season, three Ligue 1 clubs will qualify directly for the Champions League, whilst another will pass through the playoffs. Two clubs will directly qualify for the Europa League and one for the UEFA Conference League. 

West Ham were trailing at the London Stadium, but goals from Saïd Benrahma and Michail Antonio in the second half overturned the deficit, much to the relief of French football fans. 

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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