UEFA coefficient rankings show Liverpool’s rise, fall and rise again

Thirteen years on from the Reds becoming the No.1 side in the European governing body’s rankings, James Noble reviews the club’s changing trajectory in recent times.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009 saw Rafael Benítez’s team climb to the top of UEFA’s continental coefficient rankings – a considerable achievement, even if it’s not the kind that comes with a trophy.

This felt well-timed, in many ways.

It came six days after the Merseysiders had beaten Real Madrid 1-0 at the Bernabéu in their Champions League round of 16 first-leg encounter.

It also came seven days prior to Los Blancos being defeated 4-0 in the Anfield return leg and 11 days ahead of that memorable 4-1 Premier League victory over title rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.

This was a team who, at that moment, felt like one of the very best in Europe – even though Chelsea would knock them out in the Champions League quarter-finals in April and the following season would see the club begin to somewhat spiral both on and off the pitch.

A group stage CL exit – but an exciting subsequent run to the Europa League semi-finals – and seventh-placed Premier League finish followed in 2009/10, the latest of Benítez’s six years at the helm.

The coefficient system, which sees points awarded to clubs based on their performance in continental tournaments, is seen as a notable measure of teams’ strength and impacts seeding in group stage draws, for instance.

Coefficient points totals are generally calculated by adding together those gained by a club over the previous five seasons.

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‘A club’s five-season coefficient is the cumulative total of the previous five seasons’ coefficients, or 20% of its association’s five-season association coefficient, whichever is higher,’ according to UEFA.com.

Such a ranking was a mark of years of good work in Europe’s premier club competition.

2004/05 – Benítez’s debut Anfield season – had brought the breathtaking victory in Istanbul, of course.

2005/06 had seen them pip Chelsea to top spot in the group stage but then exit in the round of 16 at the hands of Benfica.

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2006/07 produced another trip to the final, although this time AC Milan were victorious in Athens.

And 2007/08 produced a run to the semi-finals, where Chelsea edged a thrilling tie 4-3 on aggregate.

The conclusion of the noughties and start of the 2010s brought a notable dip, of course.

Roy Hodgson’s brief stint in charge following Benítez’s exit ran from the summer of 2010 to January 2011 before Kenny Dalglish took the reins until the conclusion of the 2011/12 season, when Brendan Rodgers took over.

Liverpool reached the Europa League round of 16 in 2010/11, 2012/13 and 2014/15 – being knocked out by Braga, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Beşiktaş respectively – and had seasons without European football in 2011/12 and 2013/14.

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That 2014/15 campaign had begun with the Reds in the Champions League for the first time in six years but finishing third in the group stage saw them drop into the Europa League.

The following season, arguably, was where the Merseysiders began to regain continental momentum.

Their first two Europa League fixtures of 2015/16 came in the final weeks of Rodgers’ time at the club, before Jürgen Klopp arrived in early October.

An enthralling run to the final followed and, while the season ended with a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Sevilla in that Basel showpiece, the experiences gained continue to feel valuable.

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22.00 coefficient points were gained that year, having gained a total of 31.00 from 2010/11 to 2014/15.

No more would be added in ‘16/17, with the Reds again absent from continental competition but, crucially, that season saw them secure a fourth-placed finish – and a place in the Champions League play-offs – on the final day of the campaign.

‘17/18, with its run to the 3-1 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in Kyiv, and ‘18/19, with its 2-0 Champions League final victory over Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid, earned 30.00 and 29.00 points respectively.

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18.00 followed in ‘19/20 as Klopp’s side exited at the round of 16 stage to Atlético Madrid, and 24.00 in ‘20/21 as their city rivals Real Madrid knocked the Merseysiders out in the quarter-finals.

Thus far, Liverpool have earned 23.00 in ‘21/22.

These recent years have seen the Reds work their way back up to third place. On 124.00 points, they trail Manchester City – on 126.00 – and Bayern Munich – on 134.00.

It feels a marker of several things. Liverpool’s headway in recent years. Their superbly consistent high performance levels on the continent. And their highly promising current context.

A context they will hope to enhance further in the coming weeks and months. Starting in the Champions League round of 16 second leg against Internazionale at Anfield on Tuesday.


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James Noble

Contributor. 20-year-old uni student studying sports journalism. Southern Red.

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