The Celtic roadmap to UEFA Europa League progression

By Euan Davidson

October 20, 2021

After just three games – for Celtic at least – in the Europa League group stage, it’d be somewhat strange if there wasn’t a way every team could progress, all being well.

However, until about 3.30pm yesterday, most Celtic fans probably would’ve ruled it out. Hopeful of some European performances to be proud of, certainly, but progression?

Nah. Call it a free hit of a year, if you will.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

An emphatic win over Ferencvaros followed, and now everyone has their calculators out. Could Celtic still do it? Should Celtic still do it?

With Celtic playing two days ahead of everyone else, the current composition of Europa League has us third in Group G [UEFA] after three matches. What permutations can see the Bhoys get past Betis into the next round of the Europa League, which from this year onwards, is a play-off?

At the risk of sounding like Alan Partridge going through his Soccer Meter on The Day Today [YouTube], let’s have a look.

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How can Celtic progress past Europa League group?

Leverkusen have a double header against Betis, knowing that a win and a draw would see them through. The first is in Andalusia on Thursday, and then on the 4th of November, it’s back to the BayArena.

If Celtic win against Ferencvaros in the next round of fixtures, and Leverkusen beat Betis, it would put us equal on points with Betis. That would be the desired outcome as we head to Germany on the 25th of November.

That said, a draw between Betis and Leverkusen also suits us.

Then, Leverkusen have RB Leipzig away from home three days after Celtic arrive in North Rhine-Westphalia. If we draw (you never know), then it would leave us on 7 points, provided Betis beat Ferencvaros. But if the Hungarians win, it would help us out massively.

So, Betis win against Ferencvaros, though, it would leave them on 10 points in this scenario. Celtic would need to concede no more than two goals in a win against Betis to topple them on a head-to-head basis.

Essentially: Celtic need to win against Ferencvaros and Betis (keeping it tight at the back, and hope for a draw or better with Leverkusen.

Is it convoluted? Undoubtedly. Is it fun to think about? Absolutely.

At the very least, Celtic can make a dent in the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference

Luckily, provided this equation doesn’t work out, there’s a safety net. The UEFA Europa Conference began this season, and there would be opportunity for Celtic if we finish third.

“Pub league!”, I hear you say. “My Nan could score in the UEFA Europa Conference!”. Well, your Nan would have to be class.

There are some quality teams in there, from Partizan Belgrade to Roma, Tottenham Hotspur to Feyenoord. Some old friends like Jablonec, Copenhagen, Rennes, Vitesse, Qarabag and AZ Alkmaar are also in contention.

So, there’s definite fun to be had there. Unless, that is, we lose all of our remaining games, or Ferencvaros ending up winning against Bayer Leverkusen and Real Betis. That would ruin things a bit.

Fine, maybe it’s not an exact science. This, I mean, not maths in general. But there are certainly ways for Celtic to compete in Europe beyond Christmas.

Something to look forward to!

Read more: Ange Postecoglou explains what he told his Celtic players at half-time yesterday

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