CELTIC are currently performing a balancing act on a £40million Champions League tightrope.

Ange Postecoglou’s side are six points ahead at the top of the Premiership with five games to go and have qualification for Europe’s elite competition in their sights.

However, the route to the money-spinning group stages is developing into a complicated one and Spanish side Villarreal added to that following their shock 2-1 aggregate win over Bayern Munich in Bavaria last night.

The Spaniards won the first leg 1-0 at home and an 88th-minute goal from Samuel Chukwueze gave them a 1-1 draw with the former European kings in the Allianz Arena.

THE WAITING GAME…Ange Postecoglou faces late Champions League drama.

They are now in the last four where they will be joined by La Liga rivals Real Madrid, who overcame holders Chelsea 5-4 on aggregate after extra-time at the Bernabeu.

The semi-final teams will be revealed this evening when Liverpool, 3-1 up from the first leg, take on Benfica at Anfield, and Manchester City, 1-0 ahead, travel to face Atletico Madrid.

The additional problem has been posed by Unai Emery’s Spanish shocktroops because they sit seventh in their league, 11 points behind fourth-placed Atletico.

For the victorious Premiership team – and the Hoops are on course for their tenth championship in 11 years – to gain direct entry into the lucrative group stages they need the winner of this year’s tournament to have already qualified through their league position.

DELIGHT BEFORE DESPAIR…Callum McGregor celebrates putting Celtic into the lead against FC Midtjylland on July 28 – but the Danes came back to win 2-1 in extra-time to knock the Hoops out of the Champions League. 

Real Madrid are heading for Spain’s top-flight title, while Manchester City are setting the pace in England with Liverpool second.

Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there could be tweaks to who qualifies and how, but, as things currently stand, the Premiership winners enter at the play-off round stage, meaning a two-legged tie to secure passage to the sections.

However, if a team who have already qualified for the tournament through their league position is to win this season’s Champions League it would move the triumphant Premiership team straight into the group stages.

There are still some twists and turns before everything becomes clear, but what is certain is that Celtic resume their quest for the crown with a visit to Dingwall to take on Ross County a week on Sunday before facing this weekend’s Hampden Scottish Cup semi-final Ibrox foes at Parkhead on May 1.

Then it’s Hearts in the east end of Glasgow six days later, Dundee United at Tannadice the following Wednesday and then all Celtic fans will be hoping it’s party time in Paradise on Saturday May 14 when Motherwell provide the opposition in the final Premiership encounter of a remarkable campaign.

Of course, Postecoglou’s rejuvenated team may be tasked with an appearance in the Scottish Cup Final a week later to bring down the curtain on an unforgettable season.

Hopefully, by then, the Champions League situation will be settled.

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