Celtic fans may be interested to know that the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League is underway.
On the other hand, you may not care about the first qualifying rounds anymore.
Yes, just 18 days after Manchester City’s thrilling final victory over Inter Milan, next year’s tournament has begun.
It all started last night in the less glamorous area of Iceland’s Kópavogur.
It was the semi-final of what UEFA calls the preliminary round. Victories were achieved by the Montenegrin champion Buducnost and the Icelandic Breidablik. The duo will meet in the final on Friday evening for a place in the actual qualification.
Of course, even in our worst days, Celtic didn’t have to take part in the preliminary round. However, we were often seen in action in the first qualifying round.
Seven consecutive seasons we played our first European game in July. The dates seemed to get earlier and earlier as the years went by, with the low point being the July 9 trip to FK Sarajevo in 2019.
For context, that date is only 11 days from now.
Today, however, we know that our first Champions League outing of the season will take place in mid-September (19 or 20). It takes place in the group stage of UEFA’s premier club competition.
It is a heavenly sight for Celtic supporters to see all these qualifications happen, when we already have our place in the league in order.
The automatic place is secured thanks to Scotland’s performance on the continent and our status as champions.
This year’s Premiership winners will also be assured of Champions League qualification next season, albeit in the competitions’ new format.
So sit back and look forward to seeing some pretty big clubs battle it out this summer to join us in the group stages.
The draw for this will take place on August 31.
In other news: Kyogo Furuhashi and Yuki Kobayashi train in Japan with their former team Vissel Kobe
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