Why Celtic and Rangers Europa League wins are good news for Champions League slots

Hatem Abd Elhamed celebrates Celtic's stunning win over Lazio in Rome. Picture: Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images
Hatem Abd Elhamed celebrates Celtic's stunning win over Lazio in Rome. Picture: Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images
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Celtic and Rangers are within touching distance of reclaiming a second Champions League qualifying slot for Scotland after their Europa League heroics on Thursday night.

The Old Firm duo’s memorable victories over Lazio and Porto have seen Scotland climb another two places to 16th in the provisional Uefa coefficient ranking table.

Joy for Alfredo Morelos after his goal for Rangers against Porto at Ibrox. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Joy for Alfredo Morelos after his goal for Rangers against Porto at Ibrox. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

If Scotland can finish the campaign in the top 15, then the top two clubs in the Premiership next season will both go into the Champions League qualifiers in the summer of 2021.

Scotland have not had two clubs in the Champions League since the 2012-13 season when Celtic reached the last 16 of the tournament and Motherwell were eliminated in the third qualifying round.

Moving back into the top 15 would also give Scotland a third representative in the Europa League.

The impressive results of the Old Firm this season have seen Scotland gather its highest Uefa coefficient points tally since 2007-08 when Celtic made it to the last 16 of the Champions League and Rangers reached the Uefa Cup Final.

So far in the current campaign alone, only European powerhouses England, Spain, Netherlands and Germany have a higher coefficient points total than Scotland.

That valued 15th place in the rankings is firmly in sight with Cyprus now just an eighth of a single coefficient point ahead of Scotland. Had APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus’s only remaining representatives this season, not scored an 88th minute winner in their Europa League match against Qarabag on Thursday, Scotland would already be in the top 15.

If Rangers can join Celtic in making it to the knockout stage of the Europa League, it is also feasible for Scotland to overhaul both Czech Republic and Denmark who are currently 13th and 14th respectively in the provisional rankings.

Like Cyprus, both of those nations also only have one club left in Europe this season. Czech side Slavia Prague are currently bottom of their Champions League group and are struggling to remain in Europe beyond Christmas, while Danish outfit FC Copenhagen are far from certain to progress from their Europa League group.