The most prestigious club football tournament in the world gets underway with the draw that’s scheduled to take place in Monaco on Thursday. With every supporter watching his team’s fate being uncovered on television, here’s a guide to how the draw is actually done:
- The 32 clubs who feature in the draw are split into four pots of eight based on their UEFA coefficient scores. These are based on performance in European competitions over the last five years.
- A total of eight groups of four teams will be drawn with one side from each seeding pot in each group. No side can be drawn against another from the same pot, nor can they play a team from their home country.
- Where two sides from the same country have qualified, they will be paired to split their matches between Tuesday and Wednesday, so one club will always play at home on one day and the other will play away on the other day. In the case of countries with three representatives, only two teams have been paired in terms of their fixtures; in the case of countries with four representatives, two pairings have been made.
- To ensure sides from the same country play on separate days, the eight groups will be distinguished by colour: Groups A-D will be red and Groups E-H blue. When a paired club is drawn, for example, into one of the red groups, the other paired club – once it has been drawn – will automatically be assigned to one of the four blue groups.
- The order of home and away matches will be determined after the draw has taken place. The teams to have already qualified for the group stages are:
Arsenal Chelsea Barcelona Manchester United Bayern Munich Real Madrid Porto AC Milan Valencia Benfica Zenit St. Petersburg Shakhtar Donetsk Schalke Manchester City Olympiacos Ajax Juventus Paris St-Germain Galatasaray Borussia Dortmund Montpellier Nordsjaelland BATE Borisov Anderlecht Dinamo Zagreb Braga Malaga
The 5 teams to join them will be the winners of the following final playoff games:
1) FC Basel v CFR Cluj
2) Helsingborgs v Celtic
3) Spartak Moscow v Fenerbahce
4) Borussia Monchengladbach v Dynamo Kiev
5) Lille v FC Copenhagen
The draw is scheduled to take place at 1700 hrs UK time, 2130 hrs IST (Live on Ten Action Plus).