Champions League

Who Man City & Chelsea could draw in the Champions League group stage

Jamie Spencer
Man City & Chelsea are both in pot one of the Champions League group stage draw
Man City & Chelsea are both in pot one of the Champions League group stage draw / Visionhaus/Getty Images

Manchester City and Chelsea are eagerly awaiting their fate in the 2021/22 Champions League group stage draw, which takes place in Istanbul on Thursday evening (17.00 BST).

The 32 teams that have qualified for the group stage have been split into four pots of eight and one from each pot will go into each of the eight groups A-H. Pot one is made up of seeded clubs, and the other three pots are determined by UEFA’s club coefficient rankings.

Pot one is reserved for European cup holders or national champions of Europe’s top six domestic leagues. Chelsea take their place among the top seeds as Champions League holders, while City are in there as a result of winning their latest Premier League title.

By being in pot one, City and Chelsea immediately avoid Bayern Munich, Inter, Atletico Madrid, Villarreal, Lille and Sporting CP. But there are plenty of other tough sides they could get.

Here’s a run down of which clubs the Premier League giants can be drawn against…

Pot two

PSG's summer recruitment makes them a huge threat
PSG's summer recruitment makes them a huge threat / John Berry/Getty Images

Country protection prevents Chelsea or City from being drawn against any other Premier League club at this stage of the competition. That means they have only six possible opponents from pot two because Manchester United and Liverpool are excluded.

Pot two is probably the toughest of the lot, arguably more so than pot one, and not a single club would be considered favourable. Sevilla, maybe Borussia Dortmund, might be the worst of a bad bunch that also includes Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus.

PSG, now with Lionel Messi on board, are the ones most necessary to avoid.

Potential clubs: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund

Best case scenario: Sevilla

Worst case scenario: Paris Saint-Germain

Pot three

Red Bull Salzburg could spring a surprise but are the weakest team in pot three
Red Bull Salzburg could spring a surprise but are the weakest team in pot three / Martin Rose/Getty Images

Pot three presents a number of strong teams and a couple of lengthy potential away trips.

Portuguese duo Porto and Benfica ought never to be taken lightly at this level, while Atalanta remain strong and RB Leipzig have established themselves as Champions League regulars.

Having to travel several hours east and back in midweek to face either Zenit St Petersburg or Shakhtar Donetsk wouldn’t be ideal, even if the teams aren’t necessarily that strong. Red Bull Salzburg could still spring a surprise but are probably the one to get here.

Potential clubs: Porto, Ajax, Shakhtar Donetsk, RB Leipzig, Red Bull Salzburg, Benfica, Atalanta, Zenit St Petersburg

Best case scenario: Red Bull Salzburg

Worst case scenario: RB Leipzig

Pot four

Olivier Giroud
AC Milan are better than their UEFA ranking suggests / Marco Canoniero/Getty Images

The majority of clubs in pot four, the weakest in the draw, would be favourable as any team with ambitions of going far in the competition should be good enough to beat any of them.

There is still a travel factor, with Dynamo Kyiv representing a long away trip. The same is true of group stage debutants Sheriff Tiraspol from Moldova, even though they are objectively the weakest club that has got this far. They did shock regular qualifiers Dinamo Zagreb in qualifying, though.

AC Milan would probably be the main one to avoid, with their low ranking the result of a relative lack of meaningful recent European action. This is their first season in the Champions League since 2014 and they have only been in the Europa League in three of the last five years.

Potential clubs: Besiktas, Dynamo Kyiv, Club Brugge, Young Boys, AC Milan, Malmo, Wolfsburg, Sheriff Tiraspol

Best case scenario: Malmo

Worst case scenario: AC Milan

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