The Champions League draw takes place on Thursday.
The draw for the 2020/21 Champions League group stage takes place on Thursday and four Premier League clubs will be eagerly awaiting the outcome.
For the second consecutive season, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea are the four English teams involved in the Champions League draw, which takes place at 5pm Irish time on Thursday.
Chelsea and Man City in pot 1 of Champions League group stage draw.
Bear in mind, there will be a host of Uefa award presentations to get through so we could be looking at closer to 6pm before the real drama of the draw gets underway.
As Champions League holders, Chelsea are in pot 1, along with Premier League champions Manchester City, Europa League winners Villarreal and the winners of the five other highest-ranking European leagues in 2020/21. They are Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Lille and Sporting Lisbon.
Due to there being some surprising names on that list of domestic champions, pot 1 seems a little bit softer than usual with pot 2 arguably filled with more intimidating clubs.
In it, Manchester United and Liverpool are joined by Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund.
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Some big names in pot 3.
Pots three and four are yet to be completed, with the three remaining play-off ties set to be concluded on Wednesday night, however they will include some Champions League stalwarts such as FC Porto, Ajax and Benfica.
As always, clubs from the same nation won’t be drawn together in the group stage.
Here are the best and worst case scenarios for each of the English clubs in the Champions League draw:
It almost seems like a curse being in pot 1 this year, when you read some of the names that are in pot 2.
While Real Madrid and Barcelona don’t carry the same fear factor as they did in the past, they’re still best avoided.
With Lionel Messi on board, star-studded PSG almost certainly carry the greatest threat to Pep Guardiola’s side as they aim to top their group for a fifth consecutive season.
Sevilla will surely be the preferred pot 2 opposition for Guardiola, even if the Spanish club have a habit of turning over English sides in Europe.
Like Man City, Chelsea will hope to avoid being paired with PSG, although manager Thomas Tuchel could enjoy returning to the Parc des Princes with a Champions League winner’s medal around his neck.
Tuchel led the French club to the 2020 final before being sacked four months later. He took over at Chelsea in January and did what he couldn’t do with PSG, by winning the final against Man City in Porto.
The prospect of a visit to Dortmund, another of Tuchel’s former clubs, is also available and given that they boast the extreme talents of Erling Haaland, they are probably best avoided.
Like City, Chelsea would probably take a trip to Sevilla if it was offered to them before the draw.
While pot 1 is weaker than usual, there are still a few clubs that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would like to avoid.
At their worst, a sometimes brittle United could find it tough against streetwise outfits like Atletico and Bayern.
United and Atletico have only met once in European competition, during the 1991/92 Cup Winner’s Cup, so supporters might just take Diego Simeone’s side over Bayern just for the novelty factor.
Despite losing some big-name stars, Inter will still offer a threat, while United probably wouldn’t fancy a rematch with their Europa League conquerers Villarreal.
You’d sense that Solskjaer would be happy to draw Lille or Sporting Lisbon in the group stage.
A meeting with Atletico would bring back bad memories for Jurgen Klopp’s side after they were dumped out by them in the 2019/20 last 16, just before the pandemic put European football on hold.
Like United, they’d be happy to draw Lille or Sporting Lisbon while avoiding the likes of Bayern, Inter and the stubborn Villarreal.
Champions League group stage looms.
As stated above, there are some big names to be avoided in pots 3 and 4 and we’ll all just have to tune in to find out where the four English clubs will be travelling this autumn and winter.
The 2021/22 Champions League group stage gets underway on September 14th.