Champions League: when is the draw for the group stage?
The return of the Champions League is imminent as the first stones are paved on the road to the 2021/22 final in St. Petersburg.
Last season’s edition of the competition saw Chelsea defeat Atletico Madrid, Porto and Real Madrid in the round of 16 before facing Premier League champions Manchester City in an all-English final.
Although Thomas Tuchel led the Blues through these encounters, Chelsea’s second Champions League triumph – and the first since 2012 – built on the back of an impressive group stage campaign under Frank Lampard.
The groups for the new season are expected to be revealed this week, with Chelsea, Man City, Man United and Liverpool qualifying as the four English teams.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2021/22 Champions League group stage draw.
When is it?
The draw for the group stage will take place in Istanbul on Thursday 26 August at 5 p.m. BST.
How can I watch it?
UEFA, the governing body of European football, will broadcast the draw live on its website.
In the UK, BT Sport will also broadcast the draw live on BT Sport 2 HD and the broadcaster’s site.
Which teams are involved?
Thirty-two clubs will take part in the group stage, of which 26 have already qualified.
The final play-offs will take place on Wednesday to determine which six clubs will join the teams below – separated by country – in the group stage:
Spain: Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Villarreal
England: Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea
Germany: Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund, Wolfsburg
Italy: Inter Milan, AC Milan, Atalanta, Juventus
France: Lille, Paris Saint-Germain
Portugal: Sporting Lisbon, Porto
Russia: Zenit Saint Petersburg
Belgium: Club Brugge
Ukraine: Dynamo Kiev
The other play-offs are: Ferencvarosi vs Young Boys; PSV Eindhoven v Benfica; Ludogorets against Malmö; Brondby v RB Salzburg; Shakhtar Donetsk against Monaco; Dinamo Zagreb versus Sheriff Tiraspol.
How does the draw work?
The teams will be divided into four seed pots. Pot 1 will consist of the starters (Chelsea), Europa League winners (Villarreal) and champions from the top six nations – given that neither Chelsea nor Villarreal have won their domestic championships. Pots 2 to 4 will be determined by the ranking of the coefficients of the clubs.
No team can play a team from its own national league. The pots will be confirmed before the start of the raffle ceremony.
Several prizes for the 2020/21 edition of the competition will also be awarded.
When does the Champions League group stage take place?
Day 1: September 14/15
Day 2: September 28/29
Day 3: October 19/20
Day 4: 2/3 November
Day 5: 23/24 November
Day 6: December 7/8
Who are the favorites to win the competition?
Man City: 41/10
Bayern Munich: 41/5