Celtic's possible opponents in the Champions League qualifiers

Celtic will face an arduous task to qualify for the Champions League next season after their title loss confirmed they will be required to negotiate the non-champions pathway.

Action from Celtic's friendly against Lyon last summer - as it stands the French side will be the team to avoid for the Parkhead in the third round  of the Champions League qualifiers, should they progress, as seeds, from the second round stage. (SNS Group).
Action from Celtic's friendly against Lyon last summer - as it stands the French side will be the team to avoid for the Parkhead in the third round of the Champions League qualifiers, should they progress, as seeds, from the second round stage. (SNS Group).

Three rounds will stand between the Parkhead club and a first appearance in the tournament group stages since 2017-18. As it stands they will only be seeded for the first of these, the second qualifying round. In terms of current league standings, they could be drawn against Rapid Vienna, Galatasaray or Midtjylland, though the top placings are all tight in Austria, Turkey and Denmark.

If Celtic made it through this stage, their task would become altogether more difficult. In terms of those currently in line to take part in this round, they would not be seeded. That would mean they could face Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, CSKA Moscow or Braga. None of these clubs is nailed down for their current standings. If, for instance, Lyon succeeded in moving up from third to second, they would replace Paris-Saint Germain, leading to the moneyed Parisiens becoming a possible opponent at this phase for Celtic.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

However, should surprise French league leaders Lille prove unable to hold off PSG and Lyon, only three points currently separating the three teams, then Celtic would become seeds through boasting a higher coefficient than Lille. In that scenario, their Europa League opponents from this season - and against whom they claimed their only four points from a miserable group campaign - would become potential draws next season. If that happened, so too would the other current unseeded teams for this round - in the form of a Sparta Prague that humbled them in the Europa League with back-to-back 4-1 thumpings, PSV Eindhoven and a Royal Antwerp that Rangers scored a 9-5 aggregate win over recently.

Were Celtic to progress to the play-off stages, they would have little hope of being seeded under any permutation. At present, it is projected that this two-tie stage will be contested by seeds CSKA and Lyon, and non-seeds CSKA and Braga.

Failure at the second, third or Champions league play-off qualifying stages will put them down to third qualifiying round, play-offs or group stages of the Europa. Dropping from that competition would bring opportunities to reach the new Conference League.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers. If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.