As expected, Celtic progressed to round 2 of the Champions League qualifiers with a 6:0 victory against Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur. As it transpired almost all of the ties went with the UEFA seeding. One of the exceptions was the match which produced our opponents in Q2, Ferencvaros of Budapest. The Hungarians knocked out Djurgårdens of Sweden with a 2:0 win at home.
What to make of that? In actual fact Ferencvaros have a higher coefficient (8.500) than Djurgårdens (3.600) and are some 300 places above them in the ranking table so it wasn’t a complete shock.
The only other tie to go against the seeding was that involving our old foes Astana. The Kazakhs were blown away by Dynamo Brest in Belarussia, losing 6:3 – and that’s on the night, not on aggregate.
Another of our old opponents, Suduva, had to survive a penalty shoot-out following their 1:1 draw against Flora in the Battle of the Baltics (that’s enough tabloid cliches – Ed). The Slovenian ref came to their rescue with three minutes to go when he awarded them a penalty and they won 4;2 on spot kicks. The other extra time victory went to Omonia Nicosia who beat Ararat 1:0 in Armenia.
Closest game on the night was in Warsaw where it took Legia until the 87th minute to score the only goal against Linfield. oh dear, how sad, never mind.
Celtic’s was the highest scoring result with 5:0 wins going to Molde (goodbye Mr KuPS) and Red Star Belgrade (v White Flag Europa of Gibraltar).
The one tie that has yet to be settled is the game between Klaksvik of the Faroe Islands and Slovan Bratislava. That was postponed from Wednesday until Friday due to a physio who tested positive for COVID-19 after he travelled with the team to the Faroes. One player from the Bratislava squad tested positive before, however he stayed quarantined in Slovakia. (Vladimir Weiss would you believe!)
Bratislava met the UEFA protocols (all players that travelled to the Faroe Islands tested negatively twice in a row), but due to local laws all players must stay in quarantine. Slovan will now fly over other A-team players (tested negatively) together with players from the reserve team, so they’ll be able to have minimum of 13 players ready to play on Friday. The team is also trying to test again all players currently in Faroe Islands and try to get some sort of exception for them. In effect their line-up will be made from a few players who are from main squad but didn’t travel and others from reserve squad, currently bottom of the second division in Slovakia.
If Slovan win the second round looks like this (if they don’t then Klaksvik take their place):
Of the losers from the Champions Path, 8 will enter the Europa League Qualifying Round 3 in the Champions half of the draw. two (to be determined by draw) will enter the Play-Off round of the Europa League (Champions Path). The losers of the League Path will enter the main path of Europa League Qualifying Round 3.
The draw for round 3 will be made after the Q2 matches are played. If we manage to beat Ferencvaros and the ties all gom according to seeding (they won’t) then Celtic will be seeded in the champions half along with Zagreb, Ludogorets, Young Boys and Red Star Belgrade.
Potential opponents are most likely to be either Qarabag, Legia, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Molde or the winners of the Klaksvik v Slovan tie.