Chelsea and Real Madrid in September? How about Barcelona and Arsenal in October?
This season’s UEFA Champions League sets the stage for an absolutely electric group stage, though it could hijack momentum from what’s usually a high firepower Round of 16.
It also could provide bad odds for Premier League teams hoping to avoid a “group of death”, as six of the eight teams in Pot 2 are from either La Liga or England’s top flight and teams from the same association cannot square off in the group stage.
So, consider the pots:
Pot 1: Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Benfica, Paris Saint-Germain, Zenit Saint Petersburg, PSV Eindhoven
Pot 2: Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Porto, Arsenal, Manchester United, Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen, Manchester City
Pot 3: Shakhtar Donetsk, Sevilla, Lyon, Dynamo Kyiv, Olympiakos, CSKA Moscow, Galatasaray, Roma
Pot 4: BATE Borisov, Borussia Monchengladbach, Wolfsburg, Dinamo Zagreb, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Gent, Malmo, Astana
Now consider that when Barcelona is drawn, they can only face five teams in Pot 2. As for Chelsea, the same is true. As you can see, only Porto and Bayer Leverkusen are Pot 2 teams outside of Spain and England.
Here are some potential horrific groups of death, and they all could happen in Thursday’s draw:
Group A: Barcelona, Arsenal, Roma, Wolfsburg
Group B: Chelsea, Real Madrid, Lyon, Borussia Monchengladbach
Group C: Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Sevilla, BATE Borisov
Now that would also leave other lower clubs in the driver’s seat for the knockout stage. Staying with the above groups, we could see:
Group D: Juventus, Porto, Dynamo Kyiv, Gent
Group E: Paris Saint-Germain, Valencia, Olympiakos, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Group F: Benfica, Manchester City, CSKA Moscow, Malmo
Group G: Zenit Saint Petersburg, Bayer Leverkusen, Galatasaray, Astana
Group H: PSV Eindhoven, Atletico Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb