Celtic fans are likely to be looking forward to the Europa League round of 32 draw more than in previous years. Unlike our last three attempts, when we’ve drawn Inter Milan, Zenit and Valencia, we will be seeded this time around.
Not only does that mean a home second leg, it also gives us a more realistic chance of progression in terms of who we face. In theory, topping our group should mean that we avoid any of the big hitters dropping down from the Champions League.
However, there is still a scenario in one CL group that the Celtic support should be tuned into.
The Champions League Group F scenario
As a seed, we will avoid the four top Champions League dropouts. UEFA works those out by the amount of points they’ve gained over their respective group campaigns. Quite simple, we’ll be able to face the four third placed Champions League teams with the lowest points.
At the moment those sides are Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge, Dinamo Zagreb and Crvena Zvezda. While none of those clubs are guaranteed to finish third in their groups, they’re also not certain to be in the lowest four third placed teams. Enter Group F.
The Champions League’s undoubted ‘group of death’ featured Barcelona, Inter Milan, Borussia Dortmund and Slavia Prague. The Catalan side have already assured top spot and Slavia are guaranteed bottom – meaning that it’s a straight fight between Inter and Dortmund for who finishes second, and who finishes third.
Both sides currently sit on 7 points but Dortmund are seen to hold a slight advantage due to their final game being against Slavia Prague. Inter’s is against Barcelona.
If the Italians lose to Barca then there’s a real fair chance that they’ll finish as one of the lowest four third placed sides – making them potential opponents for us. The same goes for Dortmund if they manage to lose at home to Slavia on matchday six.
The above scenario is still a little unlikely but it wouldn’t take a manic set of circumstances for it to come to fruition. It’s just a neat reminder that we may still not have things totally all our way despite being seeded in the draw. There’s still the potential for a nightmare draw. But it’s a hell of a lot better than this time last year.