UEFA Champions League group-stage draw 2017/18: Everything you need to know
The Champions League group stages are back, with tonight's draw set to prepare us for some big fixtures in the coming months.
The qualifying rounds for the UEFA Champions League group stage concluded on Wednesday evening, confirming the 32 teams that will go into this evening's draw.
This year's Champions League group stages look set to be as competitive as ever, with clubs across the four groups all capable of high-quality performances at a European level.
Here is everything you need to know ahead of the draw that will take place at 18:00 CET (10.30 PM IST), at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco this evening.
The Champions of each of Europe's top seven leagues make up pot one. Although, with Real Madrid winning the trophy last season, whilst also being part of the top association, this means the final spot in the first pot goes to Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine, who were the eighth ranked association at the end of the 2015/16 campaign.
Those clubs not in the first pot are then placed in the following three pots via UEFA’s club coefficient system.
The Premier League boasts five clubs this year, the most in the competition, thanks to Manchester United winning the 2016/17 Europa League title but finishing outside of the Premier League top four. La Liga closely follows with four teams.
Bundesliga side RB Leipzig will make their complete Champions League debut during the group stages, having never played in the competition. Whilst Qaraba? FK, from the Azerbaijan Premier League, will make their first appearance in the Champions League group stage, having never previously made it past the qualifying rounds.
Group stage rules:
The 32 teams in this year's draw will be assigned to eight groups, each containing four teams. The top two teams from each group will advance to the knockout stage, whilst those in third place will be given a chance for silverware in the Europa League.
When assigning teams to each group, no two teams from the same country can be drawn together. Whilst Ukrainian and Russian clubs cannot be drawn in the same group as of a UEFA ruling dating back to 2014 due to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. This means that Shakhtar Donetsk, from pot one, cannot be drawn against CSKA Moscow of pot four.
When are the matches set to take place?
The Champions league group stage matches will take place over six gameweeks, starting in September and lasting through until December.
Each team will play opponents twice, both home and away with matches due to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday nights on these dates:
Matchday 1: September 12 and 13
Matchday 2: September 26 and 27
Matchday 3: October 17 and 18
Matchday 4: October 31 and November 1
Matchday 5: November 21 and 22
Matchday 6: December 5 and 6