Celtic start Champions League qualifying against Alashkert; Rosenborg lie in wait

James Forrest scored the only goal in last season's qualifying meeting with Rosenborg
James Forrest scored the only goal in last season's qualifying meeting with Rosenborg

Celtic could face a rematch with Rosenborg should Brendan Rodgers' side beat Alashkert of Armenia in their opening Champions League qualifier.

The Norwegians will be favourites against Iceland's Valur in their first qualifying-round tie.

Celtic defeated Rosenborg 1-0 on aggregate in last season's third qualifying round.

Alashkert will host the first leg against Celtic on 11 July, with the return in Glasgow a week later.

The Scottish champions, seeking a third successive appearance in the group stage, will be at home for the first leg of the second round of qualifying should they progress.

Celtic face an extra hurdle this season as they compete for one of four places available to qualifiers that are league winners.

With 26 teams (up from 22) going directly into the group stage, they must now overcome four two-legged ties, although they will be seeded each time.

If Celtic lose at any stage of the qualifiers or the final play-off round, they will drop into the next Europa League round.

Brendan Rodgers
Rodgers has won all of his Champions League qualifying and play-off ties as Celtic manager

Alashkert, who won their domestic title by six points, knocked St Johnstone out of Europa League qualifying in 2015, going through on away goals after a 2-1 defeat in Perth.

In the past two seasons, they have been knocked out in the second qualifying round of Europe's premier competition, losing to Dinamo Tbilisi in 2016 and BATE Borisov in the last campaign.

Assistant manager Chris Davies told Celtic TV: "We travel there first and then play at home, which is a positive.

"The simplicity of it is that, if we play to our level, in our normal way and normal intensity, we'll beat them.

"But we won't be underestimating them at all. There will be no complacency whatsoever because, as we've seen before, these teams can be tricky to play against.

"There's obviously going to be a heat there and, at times, you have to adapt slightly on a tactical side how you approach certain phases of the game when it's so hot."

Alashkert players celebrate at McDiarmid Park in 2015
Alashkert came through on away goals against St Johnstone in 2015 despite having a player sent off in the second leg at McDiarmid Park

Rosenborg are already 13 games into their league campaign and sit third in the Eliteserien with seven wins and three draws, while Valur top the standings in Iceland after nine rounds of fixtures.

On a possible rematch with the Norwegians, Davies said: "The positives I take from that potential game is that we've beaten them before and in probably the hardest way - we had to play them second.

"I don't think their style or players are going to change too much, so we know quite a bit about them."

Second qualifying round ties will be played on 24-25 July and 31 July-1 August.

The third qualifying round draw will take place on 23 July and the play-off round draw will be on 6 August.

Aberdeen, Hibernian and Rangers are involved in the main Europa League first and second qualifying round draws on Wednesday.

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