Celtic receive potential seeding boost for Champions League qualifiers

A change to the leading places in the Russian Premier League over the weekend could have welcome implications for Celtic.

Celtic in action against Bayern Munich in October 2017,  the 2017-18 season the last time they competed in the Champions League . (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group).
Celtic in action against Bayern Munich in October 2017, the 2017-18 season the last time they competed in the Champions League . (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group).

Spartak Moscow’s win away to Dynamo Moscow, coupled with CSKA Moscow’s defeat by Arsenal Tula, resulted in Spartak replacing CSKA in second place of their country’s top flight, four points behind Zenit St Petersburg.

If Spartak, now a point better off than CSKA, remain in the runners-up slot across the remaining eight league games of their league championship, Celtic will be seeded for the third round of their Champions League qualifiers assuming they progress from the second round.

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Celtic’s seeding for that entry point of the non-champions pathway is assured. As it stands, they will face Rapid Vienna, Galatasaray or FC Midtjylland in ties scheduled for July 20/21 and July 27/28. It must be said that finishing positions in Austria, Turkey and Denmark remain fluid. Galatasaray are level on points with Fenerbahce, two points behind leaders Besiktas, who have a game in hand over the chasing pair.

If Celtic do win through to the Champions League third qualifying round they will be guaranteed European football till Christmas, at least in the newly-created Conference League. However, their hopes of claiming a place in the group stages of Europe’s most prized club tournament for the first time since 2017-18 have been assisted in the event of making it to the third round because of the switch in leading league placings in Russia.

Until the weekend, Celtic were set to be unseeded in the third round of the Champions League qualifiers because CSKA boast a higher coefficient. However, Spartak do not and if they are Russia’s second representatives in the tournament, Celtic - again on the basis of the situation at present - would avoid Shakhtar Dontesk, Lyon and Braga. Instead, seeding for this stage would place Spartak, PSV Eindhoven, Sparta Prague or Antwerp between them and the play-off round. These ties are set for August 3/4 and August 10.

On the basis of seedings and current domestic league standings, Celtic contesting the Champions League play-off round - which would be guarantee Europa League group stage football - would see them one of two unseeded teams and therefore opponents for expected seeds Donetsk or Lyon. The dates for these play-off ties are August 17/18 and August 24/25.

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