Celtic and Rangers in Europe: Why the Champions League and Europa League winner matters, how Rangers success could benefit Celtic

Celtic and Rangers will take a keen interest in the winner of both the Champions League and Europa League.

Rangers have earned well in the Europa League.  (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Rangers have earned well in the Europa League. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The Ibrox side will hope to progress to the Europa League quarter-final with the first leg of their round of 16 tie against Red Star Belgrade this evening.

It would be the first time they have reached the stage since 2008 when they went all the way to the UEFA Cup final.

Interestingly, if Celtic were to lose out to Rangers in the cinch Premiership title race they could benefit from their rivals also winning the Europa League.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men are outsiders to do so with the likes of Barcelona, Sevilla, RB Leipzig and Atalanta still in the competition.

The reason Celtic could benefit is due to the nature of qualification for next season’s Champions League.

A group place is on offer for the winners of both the Champions League and Europa League.

As things stands, the team who finishes second in the Premiership will enter the second qualifying round.

However, they would enter at the third qualifying stage if the Europa League winners had already qualified for the Champions League group stages through their league.

Of the teams in the Europa League round of 16 currently in a position where they would earn direct entry to the group stages of the Champions League it is Porto, Bayer Leverkusen, Sevilla and Barcelona. Meanwhile, Real Betis, West Ham United, Atalanta and RB Leipzig are all in the running for the top four in their respective leagues.

The winner of the Champions League is more important to the team who wins the cinch Premiership.

Because the winner of this year’s edition earns a place in the group stage, Celtic and Rangers will be hoping the successful team has already qualified through their league position.

It would mean Scotland's league winner would earn a group stage place rather than have to navigate the treacherous play-off round.

All four of the teams already in the quarter-final are highly likely to have qualified through their league position. Of the round of 16 ties still to be completed the teams the Old Firm should be wanting to progress are: Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Ajax.

A big caveat is required, Russia's invasion of Ukraine could alter the entrant process.

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