Moravcik67 outlines Celtic’s Champions League Challenge after 2nd Spot is Confirmed

Moravcik67 is highly regarded as being the Celtic fans go-to account for all things relating to the complexities of the European football competitions and he has now outlined in detail the extent of the challenge facing Celtic in qualifying for the Champions League qualifiers through the non-Champions route as a result of yesterday’s win over Livingston which guarantees Celtic second place in the Scottish Premiership.

Photo: Jeff Holmes

What he doesn’t mention is had Celtic played like they did yesterday throughout this most frustrating of all seasons then there would have been no need for him to have bothered with this explanation at all because Celtic would have won the league. John Kennedy made the point after the game yesterday that he still regards Celtic as the best team in the country as he challenges his side to go and prove it on Saturday (if the game goes ahead due to a funeral that is taking place in London). More on the increasingly impressive John Kennedy and the Big Bang Theory to follow…

In the meantime here is what Moravcik67 has been explaining about Celtic’s 2021 Champions League Challenge…

1. Yesterday’s win secures 2nd place in the league (yeh, I know) and a shot at Champions League qualifying.

UEFA have made big changes to the European competitions, starting next season. So here are some tweets to show what Celtic’s qualifying route will look like. Warning – could get messy.

2. What’s changed? The Europa League becomes more elite, with entry limited to

– the Cup Winners from the top 15 leagues
– the best non-Champions League qualifiers from the top 5 leagues
– teams knocked out of Champions League qualifying from QR2 onwards

The Europa League group stage will shrink from 48 to 32 teams.

3. UEFA have introduced a 3rd 32-team tournament – the Europa Conference League (ECL) for

– non-Champions & Cup Winners from non-top 15 nations
– the 2 lowest qualifiers from nations 6-15
– the lowest place qualifier from the top 5
– teams knocked out of Europa League qualifying

4. In terms of overall qualifying, it’s possible for a team to play in all 3 tournaments in the same season.

The full qualifying map can be found at Bert Kassies’ brilliant site – link below.

It’s a bit of a mess.

5. Attached is Celtic’s qualifying route.

We’ll start in Round 2 of the non-champion route of Champions League qualifying, along with

– the runners-up from Russia, Belgium, Ukraine, Netherlands, Turkey, Austria, Denmark & Czech Republic

– 3rd place from France & Portugal

6. Based on league standings, as of this morning, the other 10 teams in our route of qualifying would be

– PSV, Fenerbahce, Rapid Vienna, Brondby, Sparta Prague, Monaco, Benfica, Spartak Moscow, Antwerp & Shakhtar Donetsk.

This will likely change in the coming weeks.

7. To reach the Champions League we’d need to beat 3 of these teams.

We will likely be seeded in QR2, have a chance of being seeded in QR3, and be unseeded in the playoff.

But even this is complicated by the draw for each round being made before the previous round is played.

8. Our first tie, QR2, will be on 20/21 & 27/28 July.

Based on the teams above we would play either Sparta Prague, Rapid Vienna, or Brondby.

This first tie is vital. Win it and we’re guaranteed a place in the Europa League groups, at least. Lose, and we face 2 rounds of Europa League qualifying.

9. Based on the teams above, and assuming the seeds progress from QR2, we would be seeded for QR3 and play one of PSV, Fenerbahce, Spartak Moscow or Antwerp.

Lose here, and we’d skip the playoff and go straight to the Europa League groups.

10. Should the seeded teams all progress from QR3, we would play either Shakhtar Donetsk or Benfica in the playoff.

If either of those teams lose in QR3, we would play whoever beat them.

Again, lose at this point and we’d go straight into the Europa League group stage.

11. Just to reiterate, this is all based on current standings, and seeded teams progressing. It could be very different. We might be unseeded in all rounds (unlikely), or from QR3 onwards.

It’s just to give an idea of who we could end up having to play.

12. If we lose our first Champions League tie we drop into QR3 of Europa League qualifying. Here we would face either one of the other 2 Champions League QR2 losers from those teams listed above, or the Czech Cup Winner.

We would face either a top-15 cup winner, or a Champions League dropout in the Europa League playoff.

13. If we lose in the Europa League QR3 we drop to the European Conference League playoff. If we lose in the Europa League playoff we’d be guaranteed a place in the European Conference League group stage.

Yeh, I know. I lost you about 5 tweets ago. The qualifying process has become a nightmare to talk about now.

14. The short of it is that we only need to win 1 tie to guarantee group football of some kind.

– 3 Champions League wins = Champions League groups
– 1 Champions League win = Europa League groups
– 0 Champions League wins, 2 Europa League wins = Europa League groups
– 0 Champions League wins, 1 Europa League win = European Conference League groups
– 0 Champions League/Europa League wins, 1 European Conference League win = European Conference League groups
– 0 wins = laughing stock.

15. It’s worth noting that if this season’s Europa League winner also qualifies for next season’s Champions League group stage via their league then the 3rd place French team will skip qualifying and be given a Champions League group place.

This could have implications for which teams are seeded in Champions League QR3.

16. Using the same teams as above as an example, if Monaco don’t need to qualify it would mean that

– Benfica skip QR3
– PSV would move from being unseeded to seeded in QR.

It could be us gaining that advantage – not that it’s helped us much recently.

17. Given both our recent history in Champions League qualifying, and the expected turnover of staff and players this season, it can be fairly argued that

– reaching the Champions League is probably beyond us
– the league is more important than Europe altogether

Just to save you typing it.

18. Finally, important dates for the Champions League attached. The Champions League will continue to be played on Tuesday/Wednesday, the Europa League/European Conference League on Thursday.

Relevant Europa League & European Conference League dates are 1 day after the Champions League dates shown. But Europa League qualifying doesn’t start until QR3, and there’s not European Conference League prelim.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

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