Saturday, August 06, 2016

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: Playoff-Round Preview

Third-Round Review

Celtic secured advancement to the playoff round with a draw and a win. That's very good! It's just a hair off a perfect result, and it ensures them of continuing to the group stages of either the Europa League or the Champions League, depending on what happens in the playoff round. I guess it was a bit closer than you'd like, with everything tied until injury time.

Aberdeen got a draw out of the first leg, and looked to be going out on the away-goal tiebreaker until injury time of the second leg...when they conceded an own goal. So that's another 0.125 off the coefficient for the next 5 years, and Aberdeen bows out in the third round again. Still, the 3.5 they produced this year, is, when divided by 4, worth 0.875. If all of Scotland's non-Celtic teams could manage that, they'd be in good shape. Instead, the three non-Celtics totalled 7 points this year. I set 8 or 9 points as a target, so we're close, but not quite there. Looking ahead to next year, it'll be a crucial question of whether the Scottish Cup winner is a team who can produce more than the 1 point Hibs managed this year.

Playoff-Round Preview

Well, it's just Celtic now!

Celtic is facing Hapoel Beer Sheeva, the Israeli champions. I think that's a good draw for Celtic. While Hapoel have surprised recently, I think you'd rather face an upset winner than a team with a long track record.

It's pretty straightforward at this point. If Celtic advances to the Champions League group stage, they pick up a bonus of four points, which would be a good way towards achieving their "normal" contribution of 12. They can do that with anywhere from 1 to 2 points from wins or draws, so a win would put them at 7.5 to 8.5 and poised to pick up 2 points from each win and 1 point from each draw in the Champions League group stage.

If they fail to advance, it'll be because they pick up no more than 1 point. While the 2 points for a win may be easier to get in the Europa League group stage, the long term financial hit from missing out on the 12 million plus Euros they'd get from the Champions League is a bigger deal.

Where We Stand

So Scotland only has one team left -- but so do Norway and Poland, the two teams ahead of them. Further, the Norwegian champions have been bounced down to the Europa League, so they are not even guaranteed a group stage. Scotland could certainly catch them both, even theoretically by the end of the round. (Denmark is solidly in 20th with all four teams still alive and probably uncatchable.)

But look below! The four countries below all are doing better this year than Scotland, each has at least two teams left. Because of the four bonus points (equivalent to 1.0 in the coefficient) given for making the Champions League group stage, Israel is guaranteed to catch up with Scotland if Celtic loses to Hapoel -- even on two draws.

So there's a good chance Scotland will finally catch or be caught -- or both. Stay tuned.

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