Celtic Survive Astana Scare To Reach Champions League Group Stage

Celtic fans are seen prior to the UEFA Champions League Qualifying Play Offs Round First Leg match between Celtic FC and FK Astana at Celtic Park

Celtic Survive Astana Scare To Reach Champions League Group Stage

The Reds will avoid fellow Premier League teams Chelsea and Liverpool (Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur are also in Pot two) as a result of the UEFA rule that two teams from the same country can not be drawn against each other at this stage of the competition.

The seeding is based on Uefa's coefficient rankings, and the 32 teams will be divided into eight groups of four. It will be followed by the UEFA Player Awards. Pot one will actually contain the current holders Real Madrid, and the champions of Europe's other top eight leagues.

"They deserve to qualify and we look forward to the draw".

Manchester United are back after winning the Europa League under Jose Mourinho, a Champions League victor in 2004 with Porto and 2010 with Inter Milan.

The group stage kicks off on September 13, and the final is played on May 26 in Kiev, at the Olympic Stadium which hosted the 2012 European Championship final.

Pot 1: Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Juventus, Benfica, Monaco, Spartak Moscow, Shakhtar Donetsk.

United and City are in pot two, along with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

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The Blues, the 2012 winners, return after a season's absence after winning the English title under Antonio Conte.

However, if Liverpool are humbled by Hoffenheim at Anfield, Celtic will be placed among the third set of seeds and will avoid potential clashes against Tottenham, Napoli and Roma.

There could be some intriguing ties.

Celtic - losing a competitive fixture for the first time since they were beaten by Barcelona in November - will now take their place in Thursday's draw for the group phase, leaving Rodgers to analyse an evening of contrasting feelings.

The first Champions League group matches take place on September 12 and September 13.

All will be revealed on Thursday, at which point the five Premier League clubs and Brendan Rodgers' Scottish Premiership champions will learn the scope of the challenge in front of them.

Celtic beat Hapoel Be'er Sheva of Israel 5-2 at home in the first leg of the play-offs a year ago and then wobbled in the return, losing 2-0 to scrape through.

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