With the Champions League Play-off fixtures wrapping up tonight, the draw for the group stages will take place shortly after. RealSport takes a look at each pot, and looks at the potential opponents for each of the Premier League entrants.
The top 4 from last year Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool (assuming they maintain their lead over Hoffenheim in their second leg tonight) all qualify, while Manchester United qualified via their Europa League win.
As Chelsea are in Pot 1, they thankfully won’t have to face any of the other teams in the pot, which include some real heavy hitters. Teams from the same country can’t play each other, which means that the other PL sides won’t face Chelsea. They could face every other side from Pot 1 though and will be looking to avoid a distinct few.
Every team will hope to avoid Real Madrid; the defending champion and current Spanish champion is undoubtedly the best club in the world right now. Real beat Juventus in the final last year, and the Italian champions are another side to be avoided. They have lost Leonardo Bonucci and Dani Alves but still possess the fear factor.
German champions Bayern Munich enter as another one of the favourites for the trophy, after a summer where they signed James Rodriguez from Real Madrid.
The favourable draw (if there is one) would include Spartak Moscow, the Russian Champions, as well as Shakhtar Donetsk, neither of whom qualified for the group stages last year. Last year’s semi-finalist Monaco is also a shadow of their side last year after losing several key members of their exciting squad from last year, and the likely transfer of wonder-kid Kylian Mbappé.
The two Manchester clubs are both in this pot, meaning they won’t have to face any of these teams, leaving potentially to Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool to pick some of the biggest teams in the competition.
The unluckiest of teams will have to face PSG. They lost their French title to Monaco last year, but have seriously strengthened with the arrival of Neymar Jr. Dani Alves and potentially Kylian Mbappé.
If there was one to face it might be a Borussia Dortmund squad that may lose Ousmane Dembele before the end of the transfer window while settling in with a new coach. Sevilla and Porto would also be more favourable draws.
*= pending qualification, Liverpool won 2-1 away at Hoffenheim last week.)
Liverpool or Tottenham won’t see any teams from this pot, though Chelsea, Manchester United or Manchester City may. Napoli is the hardest draw from this group that UK sides won’t face (though non-PL sides will be hoping they don’t draw Liverpool or Tottenham).
Napoli is second favourites to take out the Italian title behind Juventus, and their high octane style could cause headaches for anyone that faces them. The easiest draw would be Olympiacos or Basel.
*= pending qualification, Qarabag won 1-0 last week against a highly favoured FC Copenhagen who are expected to come back at home tonight; APOEL Nicosia won 2-0 at home against Slavia Prague; CSKA Moscow won 1-0 away against Young Boys; and Sporting Lisbon will need to win away after drawing 0-0 at home against Steaua Bucuresti.
All PL sides can face the Pot 4 sides, the hardest draw of which being Red Bull Leipzig, who came second to Bayern Dortmund in the Bundesliga and participate in the Champions League for the first time. Scottish side Celtic have Champions League experience and challenged Barcelona and Manchester City last year Slovenian club Maribor would be the preferred draw.
Potential Group of Death
Chelsea – PSG, Napoli, RB Leipzig
Manchester United/City – Real Madrid, Napoli, RB Leipzig
Liverpool/Tottenham – Real Madrid, PSG, RB Leipzig
Potential Group of Life
Chelsea – Porto, Basel, Maribor
Manchester United/City – Spartak Moscow, Basel, Maribor
Liverpool/Tottenham – Spartak Moscow, Porto, Maribor
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?