IT wasn’t the end to the Champions League campaign that Celtic had hoped for, but Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to Anderlecht was enough to safely book the Hoops a place in the Europa League last 32.
A 3-0 win for Brendan Rodgers’ side in Belgium proved to be crucial as it kept the Scottish champions in third place on goal difference and saw them parachute into European football’s secondary club competition.
A dozen spots are yet to be claimed, but Celtic fans can already begin to get an idea of the glamour ties they could encounter when they are unseeded for next week’s draw.
When is the draw?
It will take place in Nyon next Monday, 11 December, at 12pm. It will immediately follow the Champions League last 16 draw.
How does it work?
Thirty-two clubs go into the hat, with the 12 Europa League group winners and four best-placed teams who finished third in their Champions League groups being seeded.
Celtic are therefore guaranteed NOT to be seeded, as they picked up just three points in Group B. The only third-placed team to collect fewer is Borussia Dortmund with two points, but the Germans have one more game to play away to Real Madrid tonight.
Teams from the same Europa League group can’t be drawn together, nor can sides from the same national association, but neither of these rules will affect the Hoops.
Who could Celtic face?
Twenty sides have already booked a place in the draw, with another 12 to be decided over the next couple of days.
These are the qualified teams as it stands:
Arsenal, Atalanta, Atlético Madrid, Braga, Celtic, CSKA Moskva, Dynamo Kyiv, Steaua Bucharest, Lazio, Lyon, AC Milan, Nice, Östersund, Partizan, Plzeň, Real Sociedad, Salzburg, Sporting, Villarreal, Zenit
Celtic are guaranteed not to be seeded for the draw. Therefore, the sides they could face as it stands are Arsenal, Lazio, Salzburg, AC Milan, Villarreal and CSKA Moscow.
The only other club guaranteed not to be in the seeded pot so far is Nice, who the Bhoys will therefore avoid.
Who else could drop down from the Champions League?
Spartak Moscow, Napoli, RB Leipzig and Dortmund currently occupy the remaining third-place spots, but that could well have changed by the time the full-time whistles are blown across Europe this evening.
When are the ties?
The last 32 fixtures will take place on 15 and 22 February 2018, with a kick-off time of either 6pm or 8.05pm.
Seeded teams will be at home in the second leg, meaning Celtic’s Parkhead date will be on Thursday 15th.