It seems like yesterday when Thomas Tuchel navigated Chelsea to the Champions League title at the expense of Manchester City in the grand final. While both finalists are still amongst the favourites with BetRivers Indiana and other bookmakers to win the tournament, they will need to get past the group stages first.
The draw for this year’s competition took place on Thursday at 17:00 BST in Istanbul, with four Premier League teams waited to find out who they will face in the group stage.
In addition to last season’s finalists, Manchester United and Liverpool represent the remainder of the Premier League contingent in Europe’s elite club competition this term.e
Who is in the draw?
Twenty-six teams qualified for the group stage automatically, with another six advancing to the draw via play-offs.
Villarreal’s penalty shoot-out victory over Manchester United in last season’s Europa League final provided La Liga with an extra slot.
So, only the Spaniards will have five clubs in this season’s Champion’s League group stage, with Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Sevilla joining through league qualification.
What are the seeding pots?
With the teams split into four seeding pots, the pot one was reserved for reigning champions Chelsea, Europa League winners Villarreal and the domestic champions from the six highest-ranked nations.
Apart from Chelsea and Villarreal, Manchester City (England), Atletico Madrid (Spain), Inter Milan (Italy), Bayern Munich (Germany), Lille (France) and Sporting Lisbon were the remaining teams in the pot one.
The remaining three pots were determined by UEFA’s club coefficient, with Sheriff Tiraspol becoming the first Moldovan team to reach the competition’s group stage.
The draw rules
As ever, teams from the same association cannot face off against each other in the Champion’s League group stage.
The 32 sides were allocated to eight groups of four, with Matchday 1 scheduled to take place on September 14.
Champions League groups overview
Defending champions Chelsea will take on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus, Russian giants Zenit St Petersburg and current Swedish titleholders Malmo in a manageable Group H.
Last year’s beaten finalists Manchester City are set to tackle the 2020/21 semi-final rivals Paris Saint-Germain, high-flying German powerhouse RB Leipzig and Belgian minnows Club Brugge in an exciting Group A.
Liverpool cannot avoid Madrilean sides as they will face Atletico Madrid, who dumped them out of the competition two years ago. Resurgent European heavyweights AC Milan return to the Champions League following an eight-year hiatus to complete Group B with Porto.
Big-spending Manchester United will have the opportunity to inflict swift revenge on Villarreal, with Atalanta and Young Boys looking to spoil the party in Group F.
Champions League groups in full
Group A: Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig, Club Brugge.
Group B: Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Porto, AC Milan
Group C: Sporting Lisbon, Borussia Dortmund, Ajax, Besiktas
Group D: Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sheriff Tiraspol
Group E: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Benfica, Dynamo Kiev
Group F: Villarreal, Manchester United, Atalanta, Young Boys
Group G: Lille, Sevilla, RB Salzburg, Wolfsburg
Group H: Chelsea, Juventus, Zenit St Petersburg, Malmo