Top eight seeds for 2015/16 UEFA Champions League Pot 1 confirmed
Teams like Real Madrid, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid and Manchester United will now be in Pot 2 next season
After Barcelona wrapped up the Spanish La Liga title on Sunday, all eight teams in Pot 1 for the 2015/16 Champions League season were confirmed. UEFA’s new seeding system puts the defending champions and the top seven associations’ league champions in Pot 1.
With this year’s finalists Barcelona and Juventus already in Pot 1 after winning the Liga and Serie A titles respectively, the eighth spot went to the association ranked eighth – the Dutch Eredivisie. PSV Eindhoven had already secured the league title in April and they will now go into Pot 1.
PSV had to wait for either Real Madrid or Barcelona to win the title to know their fate. If Real Madrid had won the title, there was a chance that both Madrid and Barcelona could have gone into Pot 1 (if the Catalan club won the Champions League final). But with the league title secured and both finalists already in Pot 1, the eighth and final spot went to the Eredivisie.
UEFA’s new regulation: The first group comprises the title holder (top seed) and the domestic champions of the seven top-ranked associations in accordance with the access list.
If the title holder is one of the top seven associations’ domestic champions, the group is completed with the champion of the association ranked eight.
UEFA coefficients apply only to Pots 2 to 4
The current UEFA seeding system had teams ranked based on their UEFA coefficients which saw teams regularly playing in the Champions League always in Pot 1. This saw a number of repeated fixtures over the years as teams from the same association couldn’t be drawn together in the group stages and teams from the same group couldn’t be drawn together until the quarter-finals.
Pot 1 will now have (in the order of association ranks) Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Juventus, Benfica, Paris Saint-Germain, Zenit Saint Petersburg and PSV Eindhoven. Benfica had won the Portuguese league this weekend while PSG had wrapped up the Ligue 1 title as did Zenit in Russia.
PSV’s rank in the UEFA club coefficients is actually 30 and were always in Pot 3 when they qualified for the Champions League in recent seasons. Even PSG and Juventus would have been in Pot 2 in the current system while teams like Real Madrid, Arsenal, Porto and Atletico Madrid would have been in Pot 1 (although Arsenal recently lost their hold on eighth position to Porto).
Based on the current league positions, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Manchester United, Porto, Valencia, Manchester City and Bayer Leverkusen will be in Pot 2 (subject to teams who make it through the two-legged qualifier before the group stage).
More than one Group of Death possible next season
With the new seeding system, we could see more than one group of death in the Champions League. This season saw league champions pitted against each other in the group stage itself. Group A had Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Olympiacos while Group E had Bayern Munich, Manchester City and CSKA Moscow.
With the new system, we could well see groups with Chelsea and Real Madrid in the same group, Barcelona and Arsenal in the same group, PSG and Atletico Madrid and so on. Manchester City were lucky to make it into Pot 2 after Napoli failed to qualify for the Europa League final. If the Italian side had made the final, City would have been demoted to Pot 3.
Spain can have five teams in group stages
For the first time ever, a country could have five teams in the Champions League group stages, provided two teams qualify. If Sevilla beat Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the Europa League and Valencia qualify from the Champions League playoff fixture, Spain will have five teams, including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid who qualified directly.