The group of teams qualified for the 2019/20 Europa League, semifinals, known on the night of August 11, revolutionized the list of possible opponents for Benfica in the 3rd qualifying round of the 2020/21 Champions League.
So let's explain the change of scenario. First point: Sevilla (Spain), Manchester United (England), Shakhtar (Ukraine) or Inter (Italy), one of these teams will be the winner of the 2019/20 Europa League, a condition that guarantees direct and automatic participation in the draw for the Champions League group stage. A detail that makes all the difference: these four emblems were already qualified for the 2020/21 Champions League via the final standing in the respective national championships.
Second point: considering the scenario created, what happens? A vacancy opens which is awarded to the third place in the fifth European ranking country, France, so Rennes is no longer a possible opponent of Benfica in the 3rd qualifying round of Champions League and already guarantees a presence in the groups of the Champions League (will be in pot 4).
But another consequence affects Benfica: Krasnodar (Russia), that was one of the eagles’ possible opponents in the 3rd qualifying round, move on to the play-off de 2020/21 Champions League play-off.
Usually, in September, the Champions League group stage is already underway, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced a new calendar. So, in September the 3rd qualifying round of the Champions League will be played, on September 15 and 16, in a single, whose stadium is defined in the draw, and the play-off, on September 22 and 30, will be played in two legs.
3rd QUALIFYING ROUND
|1 possible possible opponent defined||2 possible opponent yer to be defined among these ones*|
Viktoria Plzen (The Czech Republic), Rapid Vienna (Austria), PAOK (Greece), AZ Alkmaar (The Netherlands) and Lokomotiva Zagreb (Croatia)
* Still have to play the 2nd qualifying round
The qualifying round are divided into the Champions Path and the League Path, the group where Benfica is inserted. In the 3rd qualifying round, as a seeded team, Benfica already knows it will not lock horns with Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine) and I might also avoid Besiktas, is case the Turks overcome the 2nd qualifying round.
August 31: 3rd qualifying round draw
September 1: play-off draw
September 15 and 16: matches of the 3rd qualifying round
September 22 and 30: play-off matches
October 1: group stage draw
October 20 and 21: matchday 1 of the group stage
Overcoming the 3rd qualifying round, the reds will be a seeded team in the play-off, like Dynamo Kiev, an emblem they will never be able to face before the Round of 16.
It is worth mentioning that, reaching the group stage, Benfica will be inserted in pot 3.
Text: João Sanches and Marco Rebelo
Photos: UEFA and Arquivo / SL Benfica