Celtic's slim Champions League Pot 3 hope - and why Rangers are one of the teams they want eliminated

Celtic are set for a second season of Champions League group stage football after winning the Scottish Premiership title.

Ange Postecoglou’s men earned direct qualification for the lucrative group stages where they earned an estimated £25million despite failing to win any of their six matches against Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk and RB Leipzig. It is one area they will be looking to improve on in the coming season.

This past campaign was their first group stage qualification since the 2017/18 season and as such were a Pot 4 team due to their coefficient. For next season’s tournament the likelihood is they will once again be in Pot 4. However, as things stand, they could move up to Pot 3 but it is wholly dependent on the teams who progress from the qualifying rounds.

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Four teams are so far assured of being in Pot 3, Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg, Italian duo AC Milan and Lazio and Serbian title winners Red Star Belgrade. If Manchester City win the Champions League, Shakhtar Donetsk will also be in that pot. But should Inter Milan emerge victorious it will be Dutch champions Feyenoord. Therefore there are three Pot 3 spots up for grabs.

Rangers hope

La Liga’s fourth-placed side Real Sociedad have a slightly better coefficient than Celtic so they would take precedence over one spot if it became available, meaning the Scottish champions will be relying on a number of shocks in the qualification stages. Currently, there are eight teams with a higher coefficient than Celtic set to take part in the qualification process, including rivals Rangers. Should Michael Beale’s men progress through their third qualifying tie then the play-off round they will enter the group stage as a Pot 3 team. Their coefficient of 54.000 is the 31st highest in Europe, while Celtic’s 31.000 puts them 57th.

Rangers are one of the four seeded sides in the league path of the third qualifying round and Celtic will hope all are eliminated. The other sides in that section that fans should be hoping to be knocked out are Braga, Marseille and Dutch giants PSV. Should all four progress to the play-off round it means Celtic would not be able to jump into Pot 3.

Then there is the champions qualifying path. The teams Celtic should be hoping to be knocked out are Young Boys of Switzerland, Dinamo Zagreb, Copenhagen and Galatasaray, should they win the Turkish league. They could win the title this evening when they face Ankaragucu.

Celtic will enter the Champions League group stage for the second season running. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)Celtic will enter the Champions League group stage for the second season running. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic will enter the Champions League group stage for the second season running. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Celtic are one of 25 teams so far confirmed as group stage entrants with a 26th to be decided on Wednesday night when Roma take on Sevilla in the Europa League final. There are only two teams confirmed as certainties to be in Pot 4. Union Berlin who have qualified for the group stage for the first time in their history and French outfit Lens. If Celtic were to enter as a Pot 4 side, one of the more enticing draws currently would be Barcelona, Arsenal and AC Milan. On the flipside, Benfica, RB Leipzig and Red Star Belgrade are a possibility.



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