Celtic and the UEFA Champions League's new format; full details
As you’ll probably be aware, the UEFA Champions League is changing from the season after next, and Celtic will be affected.
The Hoops made their return to the Champions League this season, for the first time since 2017.
It was a largely disappointing campaign, with some impressive displays only resulting in two draws and four defeats from six matches.
We were placed in a group with Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk – but from 2024/25 we’ll have as many as eight different opponents should be make it in to the competition proper.
As we told you earlier this month, the Scottish Premiership winners will qualify for the Champions League for at least the next two seasons, due to Scotland’s impressive co-efficient.
But, should we come out on top domestically next season, what will the script be for the 2024/25 season?
European football will look very different for Celtic in 2024. Let’s take a look.
UEFA confirmed details for the revamped competition last May, and the plans are pretty exciting.
While certain aspects of their announcement have proved controversial in some circles, from a Celtic point of view the news seems positive.
The 32-team group stage that we’ve grown to love will be gone for good, replaced by a single-league of 36 teams.
But this won’t work in the way a traditional round-robin league does with every team playing each other.
Instead, each team will play eight matches against a selection of teams of differing abilities. Four at home and four away.
As per ESPN, UEFA is expected to make split the 36 teams in to four equal pots. Each side will then play two teams from each pot, one at home and one away.
So based on this year’s teams, Celtic’s fixtures could look something like: Bayern Munich (home), Manchester City (away), Atletico Madrid (home), Juventus (away), Shakhtar Donetsk (home), Sporting Lisbon (away), Marseille (home), Viktoria Plzen (away).
The top eight teams in the 36-team table will qualify for the last 16 of the competitions, with places 9 to 24 playing off to join them. Positions 25 to 36 will be eliminated from Europe with no drop-out to the Europa League.
The Europa League will adopt an identical format, while the Conference League will have 36-teams but each side will play just six times.
Most importantly, Celtic will go from playing six matches against three different teams to playing eight all against different opposition.
That should bring added excitement to Celtic Park with more big Euro games to get our teeth into.
This is not happening in four or five years either. Next season is the final year of the Champions League as we know it.
Let’s hope we’re invited to the party. It’s looking good as things stand.