Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs – Scotland’s five European qualifiers

Saturday’s Scottish Cup final ironed out the European qualifiers and plans for next season.

Celtic’s win over Inverness denied Caley Thistle a place in Europe and ensured Hibernian qualified through their fifth-placed finish in the cinch Premiership.

The result guaranteed group-stage football for Aberdeen and also gave Hearts a later start.

Here the PA new agency looks at Scotland’s five European qualifiers.


Celtic v Real Madrid
Celtic could face Real Madrid again (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Entry: Champions League group stage
Draw date: August 31
First game: September 19-20

Possible opponents: Celtic will be in pot four, meaning they cannot draw Newcastle for example. Although the seeds have not been finalised, a worst-case draw could see the Hoops facing Manchester City, Real Madrid and Milan. A kinder draw could see them come up against Benfica, RB Leipzig and Red Star Belgrade.

Prospects: Celtic will need to finish in the top three of their group to extend their European run beyond Christmas. A top-two finish would see them enter the Champions League knockout stages while third secures entry to the Europa League.


Rangers v Liverpool
Rangers will be hoping for another, less painful Champions League experience (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Entry: Champions League third-qualifying round
Draw date: July 24
First game: August 8-9

Possible first opponents: Michael Beale’s side have four possible opponents in the non-champions path, including Sturm Graz and Serbians TSC Backa Topola. Other potential opponents could be Servette, Panathinaikos or Belgian or Ukrainian sides.

Prospects: Rangers will be looking to make the Champions League group stages again and will need to win two ties to do so. Defeat at either stage would see them drop into the Europa League. They are guaranteed group-stage football whatever happens with two qualifying defeats sending them into the Europa Conference League.


Entry: Europa League play-offs
Draw date: August 7
First game: August 24

Possible first opponents: There are a host of variables before the Dons enter the fray but Swiss side Lugano will definitely be among their six possible opponents, while Slavia Prague and Olympiacos might also be on the list.

Prospects: The Dons will reach the Europa League group stage if they win their play-off and drop into the Conference groups if not.


Entry: Europa Conference League third-qualifying round
Draw date: July 24
First game: August 10

Prospects: Hearts will need to win two ties to secure a second consecutive season in the Conference League group stages.

Possible first opponents: Hearts will be unseeded and earlier rounds will determine the list of seeds but AZ Alkmaar, Dinamo Kyiv, Partizan Belgrade and Rapid Vienna will be among them.


Entry: Europa Conference League second-qualifying round
Draw date: June 20-21
First game: July 27

Prospects: Hibs need to win three ties to make the group stages.

Possible first opponents: Hibs will be seeded and a list of 45 unseeded clubs will be split into groups nearer the draw date. UEFA normally uses a regional basis when formulating the groups so potential opponents could be Swedish sides Hammarby or Kalmar plus, depending on earlier results, Crusaders or Connah’s Quay.