Confused about who qualifies for Europe this season? Read on...

Alan Pardew's final words as he summed up the breathless antagonism of the derby clash with Sunderland hinted at the mission ahead for Newcastle.

"We have a great chance of European football. It is 11 games to go. The most important of every season," he said. "I am glad this is out the way and we can concentrate and get the wins we need."

But what exactly are Newcastle's chances of qualifying for Europe?

And what are the chances of a Europa League place being passed down to sixth or even seventh place?

The FA clarified the rules to MirrorFootball today.

Obviously, the top four go into the Champions League. The team in fifth gets a Europa League place, as do the FA Cup and Carling Cup winner. Liverpool have already guaranteed one by beating Cardiff a fortnight ago.

Sixth place will only be good enough if the FA Cup winners AND runners-up have already secured a European spot.

Newcastle therefore have to support remaining FA Cup hopefuls Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool, and hope two of the three get to Wembley.

Seventh place might even be good enough under those principles, with a few other provisos like Arsenal (and Chelsea and Spurs if they don't reach the FA Cup final) finishing in the top five, and Liverpool finishing sixth.

Complicated? Just a bit.

Geordies just have to pray that arch-rivals Sunderland don't get to the FA Cup final.

Martin O'Neill's men are two wins from reaching English football's showpiece occasion, starting with Everton in the quarter finals.

If Sunderland end up playing a team already qualified for Europe - likely to be Spurs, Chelsea or Liverpool - at Wembley, then the Mackems will be guaranteed a Euro League place even if they lost the final.

Well, all that has heightened tensions even more between Tyneside and Wearside.

The stakes are high. As Newcastle fans love to chant, they've "never seen a Mackem in Milan!"

But the reality is that Sunderland are, as it stands, closer to Newcastle to achieving that dream this season.

Newcastle, as Pardew says need, to get their points total up near or past the 60 mark to finish in the top six, over 11 games.

Sunderland simply have to beat Everton, and their semi-final opponents, and that could well be good enough for a continental adventure.

So what is Newcastle's points target?

Over the last five years fifth place has been claimed with points totals of 62 (2011), 67, 63, 65, and 60. An average of 63.4 points.

Sixth place has been clinched with 58 (2011), 64, 62, 60, and 58. An average of 60.4.

So that task is becoming clearer. Newcastle currently have 44 points. To top the average for fifth spot they need 20 points out of the 33 available. Six wins and two draws.

To top the average total for 6th, they need 17 points. Five wins and two draws.

It will be a tough task.

The run in includes away games at Arsenal (next Monday), in-form West Brom, Swansea,Chelsea, Wigan and Everton.

At home Newcastle face Norwich, Liverpool, Bolton, Stoke and Manchester City.

The foundation has been built to achieve their dreams this season.

Now Pardew and his men need the sort of character and bravery they showed to come back against Sunderland to finish the job.

***

Read Simon Bird's Newcastle column exclusively on MirrorFootball.co.uk every Tuesday and follow @simonbirdmirror on Twitter

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