Cologne - With eight games of the season still to play, as many as eight clubs - not including Bundesliga leaders FC Bayern München and second-placed VfL Wolfsburg - are battling tooth and nail for a place in Europe.

Usually a top-six finish does the trick, but there is every chance that the team that finishes seventh in 2014/15 will find a way into continental competition next term, as explains...

Rule change

Starting with the basics, the top three qualify automatically for the UEFA Champions League group stages, with fourth place only enough for the Champions League third-round qualifiers. Fifth place, meanwhile, guarantees UEFA Europa League football and sixth ensures a shot at the self-same competition via the qualifying rounds.

Until last season, the beaten DFB Cup finalist would also be rewarded with a place in the Europa League qualifiers if the cup winner had already secured a European spot via the Bundesliga. That proved the case when champions FC Bayern München edged out 12th-in-the-table VfB Stuttgart in the 2013 final, but European football's governing body, UEFA, have since ruled that is no longer a possibility.

Six, seven, eight

Yet there is hope. Should one of the Bundesliga's present-day top four - FC Bayern, Wolfsburg, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer 04 Leverkusen - win this season's cup, their place in the Europa League qualifying rounds would then be handed down to the side that finishes seventh in the league (currently TSG 1899 Hoffenheim).

There's even an outside possibility that eight clubs from the Bundesliga could make it into European competition next season, after UEFA recently confirmed that the Europa League winner will be entered into the 2015/16 Champions League. That team could be Wolfsburg, but the Wolves would also have to finish outside the top six domestically for another German representative to benefit and earn an unlikely place in Europe.