Celtic have received their first set of fixture dates to prepare for ahead of the new season with UEFA confirming the calendar of Champions League qualifying, in a statement today.
As champions of Scotland, Neil Lennon’s team will enter the first qualifying of the competition, with matches due to take place on Tuesday 18th and Wednesday 19th August.
While we will still be seeded the major twist this year, compared to others in the past, is that this will be a one-off encounter rather than a two-legged tie.
Home advantage will be determined by the draw itself, with no co-efficient preference when it comes to the venue.
This single match format will continue through the second and third qualifying rounds before the two-leg method returns for the play-off to enter the group stages.
It’s a radical change but necessary for UEFA to fit qualifying into the calendar around the conclusion of 2019/20 season and international matches.
The full qualifying fixture schedule is as follows:
- First qualifying round: Ties played 18th/19th August
- Second qualifying round: Ties played 25th/26th August
- Third qualifying round: Ties played 15th/16th September
- Play-offs: Ties played 22nd/23rd and 29th/30th September
The draw dates have yet to be determined.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said: “I am delighted that we are able to resume almost all of our competitions. I am confident that we will not have to endure the fans’ absence for long and that they will be allowed into stadiums sooner rather than later.
“UEFA took a bold decision when it decided to postpone EURO 2020. But in doing so, we created the space which has allowed domestic club competitions across the continent to resume, where possible, and play to a conclusion. While the game has suffered huge difficulties as a result of the pandemic, those blows would have landed much harder if we had not shown leadership in those early days.
“The football community has worked together and shown tremendous unity during this unprecedented crisis. I would like to thank FIFA, our sister confederations, national associations, clubs, leagues, players and the relevant authorities for their continuous support and commitment and I am convinced that we come out of this crisis stronger and with closer links than ever before.”
Celtic potentially not having the advantage of a home fixture when it comes to these matches means it could be an immensely difficult challenge for Lennon’s team to navigate over the coming months.
As we know, the quality of teams ramps up quite quickly even before the play-off round so the prospect of a dodgy away trip in the second or third round isn’t exactly comforting.
However, Celtic will again be one of the biggest and richest teams in this part of the competition so we should look ahead with confidence and believe we can reach the group stages.