Champions League draw? It’s a load of balls

Following Tottenham‘s 6-3 aggregate win over Young Boys last night, there will be five British clubs in today’s Champions League group phase draw, which will take place in Monaco at around 5pm UK time.

The 32 teams in the draw are divided into four pots based on their UEFA coefficient, with the giants of European football – including the Premier League’s top three, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal – in pot one. Spurs will join Scottish champions Rangers in pot three. Each group is then made up of one team from each pot.

England is the only country to have four representatives in today’s draw; France, Germany, Italy and Spain have three apiece.

The seedings in full are as follows:

Pot One: Inter Milan, Barcelona, Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Lyon.

Pot Two: Werder Bremen, Real Madrid, Roma, Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica, Valencia, Marseille, Panathinaikos.

Pot Three: Tottenham, Rangers, Ajax, Schalke 04, Basle, Braga, FC Copenhagen, Spartak Moscow.

Pot Four: Hapoel Tel Aviv, FC Twente, Rubin Kazan, Auxerre, CFR Cluj, Partizan Belgrade, MŠK Žilina, Bursaspor.

And here is a quick break-down of each of the 18 countries’ representatives (clubs are domestic champions except where indicated):

Denmark: FC Copenhagen

England: Chelsea, Man Utd (runner-up), Arsenal (3rd), Tottenham (4th)

France: Marseille, Lyon (runner-up), Auxerre (3rd)

Germany: Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen (runner-up), Schalke (3rd)

Greece: Panathinaikos

Holland: FC Twente, Ajax (runner-up)

Israel: Hapoel Tel Aviv

Italy: Inter, Roma (runner-up), AC Milan (3rd)

Portugal: Benfica, Braga (runner-up)

Romania: CFR Cluj

Russia: Rubin Kazan, Spartak Moscow

Scotland: Rangers

Serbia: Partizan Belgrade

Slovakia: MŠK Žilina

Spain: Barcelona, Real Madrid (runner-up), Valencia (3rd)

Switzerland: Basle

Turkey: Bursaspor

Ukraine: Shakhtar Donetsk

Champions League rules dictate that teams from the same country cannot be drawn in the same group. So Rangers could face any of the Premier League’s top three, but Spurs will definitely face a daunting home-and-away encounter against one of Inter, Barcelona, Bayern, Milan and Lyon. Similarly, 2010 Champions League winners Inter cannot be drawn against Roma, and so on.

The top three English clubs will be hoping for a relatively straightforward draw, which ideally means avoiding Real Madrid and Roma in pot two, and the complexities of a long and arduous trip to play Shakhtar Donetsk, Rubin Kazan or Spartak Moscow. If anyone draws the combination of Panathinaikos, Basle and MŠK Žilina, expect their manager to be struggling to disguise a broad smile while trotting out the usual line about there being “no easy games in the Champions League”.

For Tottenham, they know they will be drawn to face a major European power from pot one, but Harry Redknapp will be hoping for a favourable draw from pot two to give his team a decent chance of progression to the knockout stages. Ideally, he will probably want Lyon and Panathinaikos; as an Arsenal fan, I’m crossing my fingers they will get Inter and Real Madrid, or Barcelona and Roma.

The way the Champions League draw is organised, which favours the progression of the bigger teams, has often been criticised in the past. Nonetheless, there is the potential for some intriguing encounters. What price Inter being drawn against Real Madrid, reuniting them with their Champions League-winning coach José Mourinho, the long-standing nemesis of new manager Rafa Benitez?

Shortly after 5pm,we will know for sure. And then let the hand-wringing and the frantic travel bookings commence.

The draw for the Europa League will follow at midday UK time on Friday.


About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

One Response to Champions League draw? It’s a load of balls

  1. Pingback: Champions League draw « Armchair sports chat

%d bloggers like this: