Celtic on high alert as Rangers defeat leaves Scotland needing UEFA coefficient favour

Scotland's guaranteed Champions League place is at risk with the Czech Republic just one result away claiming the coveted top-10 spot.

Scotland's top 10 place in UEFA coefficient standings is hanging by a thread after Rangers' narrow Europa League defeat to Benfica at Ibrox last night - putting Glasgow rivals Celtic on alert.

The winners of the Scottish Premiership have been guaranteed direct qualification in to the Champions League group stage for the past two seasons due to the country's relatively high coefficient - but that spot is now at risk.

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Celtic have automatically featured in the group stage draw of the competition as a result of winning back-to-back league titles, ensuring they swerved any involvement in qualification rounds. The runners up have been forced to go through qualifying rounds. But that could all change from the start of 2025/26 season.

Scotland fate now rests entirely in the hands of Czech outfit Viktoria Plzen who need just one draw from the two legs of their Europa Conference League quarter-final after edging past a Servette side, who beat Rangers in Champion League qualifying on penalties following a 0-0 aggregate stalemate over two games.

Scotland require Plzen to lose both matches to retain the all-important top-10 position or they would be overtaken in the coefficient standings. The Czech Republic had as many as three teams in European knockout stage action compared to the Scots' one, but Rangers crashed out at home to the Portuguese champions on Thursday, while Slavia Prague and city rivals Sparta both lost and were eliminated from the Europa League.

That leaves Plzen as the last Czech club standing and they will discover their last eight opponents when the draw is made on Friday. Dropping out of the top 10 would be a major blow to Celtic in particular as they would have to enter the play-off round to try and qualify for the Champions League proper if they were to win the league next season.

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However, if Rangers are crowned champions then their impressive club coefficient (currently 25th in Europe) could be enough to save them from feeling the brunt of Scotland's country coefficient slipping down the rankings, thanks to their previous performance in European competition.

UEFA's coefficient ranks each association's performances in the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League over the past five seasons - including the current campaign.

Rangers were left to fly the flag for Scotland this season after finishing top of their their Europa League group ahead of Sparta Prague, with Celtic securing just one victory as they were knocked out of the Champions League. Aberdeen were eliminated from the Europa Conference League despite a gritty group stage showing, while Edinburgh duo Hearts and Hibs lost out in their respective qualifiers.

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