The Champions League play-off round should hold few fears for Manchester United, with the Premier League in a class of it’s own in terms of securing qualification.
Since 2009/10, when it came into being, not one of Europe’s other top-five top flights can match English sides’ 100% record at the final stage of qualifying.
United are just 9/100 to advance to the group stage at 21/4 outsiders Club Brugge’s expense and the exploits of the Premier League’s play-off winners suggest their progress is unlikely to end there.
Once safely into the mini leagues, Bundesliga outfits take over the mantle of the competition’s most sure-fire progressors, with 85% of their representatives reaching the knockout rounds.
Premier League sides, by contrast, drop to fourth best in terms of group-stage graduation.
However, when strictly the teams from Europe’s top-five leagues that competed in the play-off round are considered, there is further cause for Old Trafford optimism.
As the second-half of the bwinfographic below illustrates, Premier League teams who had to qualify for the group stage have never failed to then kick on into the knockout rounds, with Arsenal doubling up on the golden tickets on four occasions.
The only other nation’s play-off representatives to average a knockout-stage berth over the last five years, besides England, were those of Germany.
Yet FC Bayern Munchen’s sortie from qualifiers to finalists in 2011/12 bumps up the Bundesliga mean substantially.
Here an honourable mention must go to the play-off representatives of Portugal’s Primeira Liga, the only other one of the continent’s elite divisions, besides the English top flight to see two qualifiers progress as far as the quarter finals over the last six renewals.
Over the last six seasons the latter has proven a tall order, both for sides who had to qualify for the Champions League and for English teams in general.
FC Bayern remain the only team to reach the showpiece after joining the party before the groups since the play-off stage’s inception.
Meanwhile, despite being experts at the pre-competition-proper knockout round and proficient group-stage qualifiers, the Premier League’s clubs have mustered half as many finalists as either the Bundesliga or Spain’s Primera Division since 2009/10.