Now we’ve qualified for the Europa League, we’ve been reading up on the format changes that will come into play as we head into the next few months.
The draw will take place on Friday afternoon and there will only be 32 teams involved at this stage instead of the usual 48. There will be NO last 32 of the competition this year – it will go straight to the last 16. Clubs who finish first will go straight into the last 16 draw, but then it gets more complicated.
Second placed finishes will now go into a separate knockout round with the third placed finished teams from the Champions League. The winners of those ties will join the other 8 clubs in the last 16 of the competition.
Do you follow?
Third and fourth placed finishes in the Europa League used to mean lights out for European competition – not this year. Third placed finishes will go into a knockout phase with the second placed finished sides in the UEFA Conference League. Like the Europa League, the first placed finishes in the groups go straight to the last 16 while second place will have to deal with the extra tie.
The bottom line, if Celtic can manage to avoid fourth place in their group, they will have European football beyond Christmas.
In the last two years we’ve finished top and bottom of our Europa groups.