Why do Arsenal have Atletico Madrid's fate in their hands?

Atletico Madrid's future Champions League prospects are tied to Arsenal's.

Atletico Madrid's superb season which saw them finish third in La Liga quite rightly earned them an automatic Champions League place for next season.

Over in England, Arsenal who finished fourth still need to go through qualifying, and the success or failure of that is said to have direct implications for Atletico.

The Spaniards are back in the Champions League for the first time in three seasons, and are expected to strengthen boldly with the £50 million fee received from selling Falcao.

Unlike Manchester City's troubled experiences in Europe, where they struggled after being placed as fourth seeds, Atletico are already earmarked to go into the second pot.

This is due to a strong European ranking based on recent performances, namely their 2012 Europa League win.

But it could get even better for Atletico, for there is a chance they will sneak into the first pot as one of the competition's top seeds.

Now this is a big if, but should Arsenal fall in the qualifying rounds and fail to make the group stages, then Atletico are next in line to take their place as a top seed.

It would be significant for it would allow them to avoid the likes of Bayern Munich, Manchester United or Chelsea, and hand themselves an easier passage, on paper, out of the group.

Arsenal saw in 2011 when they faced Udinese that qualification is no given, pushed all the way by the Italians, and with potential opponents like Spain's Real Sociedad or Fenerbahce, Atletico may just have their fingers crossed.

If they do make it through as expected, Arsenal will take their place as top seeds, and who knows, could even end up facing Atletico Madrid themselves at the group stage.

Would Atletico deserve a top seeding if Arsenal went out?  

image: © azuaje

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