Last night’s scare for Liverpool gave a brief change to the CL seedings for next season, but Villarreal’s exit means it’s now official:
Scotland’s champions do indeed go to the group stage of the Champions League next season – no ifs, no buts, no maybes.
With the Russia ruling, things had changed in that favour already – by the Russian clubs being removed by UEFA, the seedings had all jolted up a place and Scotland went from 99% likely to have a CL slot as champions, to 99.5%.
What was missed by some was that the Villarreal factor still had to play its hand. In short, If Villarreal won the CL, they’d secure a place in it next season which affected Scotland because Villarreal, this season, are NOT in a CL slot in Spain.
Meaning there would be 5 Spanish sides next season rather than the usual 4.
If that happened, Scotland would LOSE a slot in the CL group stage because as the lowest seeded nation, Scotland was first in line for the chop with Villarreal having to be accommodated.
But then the Russia ruling confused it further, by itself having the SAME effect as Villarreal winning the UCL – it bumped Scotland up a place and seemingly guaranteed a group spot.
The ONLY thing that could reverse it was Villarreal winning – Villarreal winning would cancel out the impact of Russia clubs being banned. Neutralising it.
In effect, Celtic would lose Rangers’ hard-earned group spot and they too would be in the qualifiers.
But, of course, all this, is moot.
Liverpool put Villarreal out and Celtic, or Scotland’s champions, are now 100% guaranteed that group spot – the only further confusion would be if Russia got reinstated, but even then, the group spot had been guaranteed many months ago assuming no non-CL side won the tournament this season – that being Villarreal.
All you need to know is Rangers (league wise) are in the third round of qualifiers next season, and Celtic are sadly guaranteed a group spot as champions.
Assuming, that is, we don’t win the UEL and get that group slot anyway? Wouldn’t that be nice…