Everything Celtic fans need to know about the Champions League - dates, draw, opponents

Callum McGregor causes problems for the Lincoln Red Imps defence during a Champions League qualifier in July 2016
Callum McGregor causes problems for the Lincoln Red Imps defence during a Champions League qualifier in July 2016
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Celtic's eighth consecutive title sees the Hoops once again enter the UEFA Champions League, albeit with some way to go until the lucrative group stages.


Celtic enter the competition at the First Qualifying Round stage, and will need to navigate a Second and Third Qualifying Round as well as a Play-Off Round to have any hope of reaching the group stages.

We take a look at what the club and the supporters need to know:

When is the draw?

The draw for the First Qualifying Round takes place on June 18, but teams will also find out prospective opponents for the Second Qualifying Round on the same date.

Third Qualifying Round: July 22

Play-off: August 5

Group stages: August 29

When is the first game?

Celtic fans should keep July 9 and 10 free as well as July 16 and 17 - these dates are when the Hoops will play their first match.

First round: 9/10 July and 16/17 July

Second round: 23/24 July and 30/31 July

Third round: 6/7 August and 13 August 2019

Play-off round: 20/21 August and 27/28 August 2019

Are they seeded?

Celtic are the top seeds in the First Qualifying Round thanks to the club's UEFA co-efficient of 31.000 which places them ahead of Belarusian side BATE Borisov, Kazakhstan's Astana and Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad.

The Hoops will also be seeded for the Second Qualifying Round should they progress. If they fall at the first hurdle, their conquerors will assume the seeded position for the second round.

Possible opponents in the first round?

The draw tends to be regionalised to some extent, meaning Celtic could be paired with Linfield of Northern Ireland or Faroese outfit Havnar Bóltfelag (HB).

Other unseeded teams already confirmed are Lithuanian side Suduva; Valletta of Malta; one of Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar, Andorran side Santa Coloma, Tre Penne of San Marino or Kosovan outfit Feronikeli who will battle it out in the preliminary round; Sarajevo of Bosnia & Herzegovina; Polish champions Piast Gliwice; Romania's CFR Cluj; Ferencvaros of Hungary; Estonian side Nomme Kalju; Montenegrin champions Sutjeska Niksic; Partizani of Albania; Icelandic side Valur; Riga of Latvia; the Armenian Premier League champions and Georgian representatives Saburtalo Tbilisi.

Celtic will avoid Qarabag, Astana, Rosenborg, HJK Helsinki or Maccabi Tel Aviv - in the first round, at least. BATE Borisov, APOEL of Cyprus, Red Star Belgrade and Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova are also seeded.

Any notable names in the first round?

Quite a few - although none on Celtic's radar due to the seeding arrangement. BATE Borisov have won the Belarusian Premier League 15 times and have former Barcelona and Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb in their squad.

Hibs and Rangers have both faced Slovenian side NK Maribor in the last few years while Celtic fans will need no introduction to Qarabag of Azerbaijan, having faced the Horsemen in the 2015/16 competition.

Kazakhstan side Astana are also on the seeded side of the draw - Celtic defeated them 3-2 on aggregate in 2016/17 and recorded an 8-4 aggregate win in the 2017/18 play-off round.

Rosenborg, HJK Helsinki and Red Star Belgrade are also involved on Celtic's side of the draw.

What about the second round?

Should Celtic get through the first qualifying round they will be seeded in the second round which will see them avoid the likes of Swiss side Basel or Olympiacos of Greece, as well as Denmark's Copenhagen and Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia.

However, they could come up against Israeli outfit Maccabi Tel Aviv, Rosenborg, HJK Helsinki or Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova, while Dutch side PSV Eindhoven and Viktoria Plzen of the Czech Republic are on the unseeded side of the draw in the second round.

Macedonian side Shkendija, Luxembourg's F91 Dudelange, Irish side Dundalk, The New Saints of Wales, Slovan Bratislava of Slovakia and Swedish side AIK are also unseeded provided they get through their first round ties.

How about the third round?

Some big teams will enter at the Third Qualifying Round stage, including Ajax, who narrowly lost to Tottenham in the Champions League semi-finals earlier this month, while Portuguese side Porto, who beat Celtic to win the UEFA Cup in 2003, also enter at this stage. Dynamo Kyiv of Ukraine will join them but both sides will be seeded so will not come up against Celtic.

Unseeded entrants at the third round stage include Club Brugge of Belgium, Russian side Krasnodar, Turkish Super Lig team Istanbul Basaksehir and Austrians LASK Linz.

And the play-off round?

On the seeded side of the draw, the winners of the match involving Ajax will be on the seeded side along with the winners of the matches involving Porto and Dynamo Kyiv.

Young Boys of Switzerland and Czech side Slavia Prague could also be seeded, while five winners in the third qualifying round will also be seeded.

Two winners of the third qualifying round will be unseeded for the play-off stage.

If they reach the group stage?

Celtic are likely to be placed in Pot 3 for the group stage draw if they make it that far.

Pot 1 contains the Europa League champions from the previous season (i.e. Chelsea) as well as the Champions League winner (i.e. Liverpool or Tottenham). The champions of the top six associations (based on 2018 UEFA country coefficient) are also included in Pot 1.

Confirmed in Pot 1 are Chelsea, Barcelona, Manchester City, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Zenit St Petersburg.

Pots 2-4 contain the rest of the teams based on their 2019 UEFA club coefficient.

Confirmed for Pot 2 are Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Pot 3, which is likely to contain Celtic, will have Bayer Leverkusen, Red Bull Salzburg, Valencia, Inter Milan and either Benfica or Lyon (with the other joining Pot 2).

Pot 4 only has two confirmed teams in Atalanta and Lille, but could contain Lokomotiv Moscow, Genk, Galatasaray and RB Leipzig (although any of the four teams could end up in Pot 3 with Celtic).

Celtic could end up with a "group of death" - but there are slightly less daunting opponents possible.

• READ MORE - Revealed: The mouthwatering Champions League group waiting for Celtic