Thursday, August 26, 2021
Champions League draw
Messi, Alaba and Klopp threaten FC Bayern
From Kevin Schulte
Manchester or Malmo? Barcelona or Bern? Turin or Tiraspol? Today the four German Champions League participants find out who their group opponents are. Especially Wolfsburg and Leipzig threaten hammer duels. But Dortmund and Bayern also get at least one top opponent drawn.
After 13 years at FC Bayern, David Alaba could quickly see his old employer again: Real Madrid is a potential group opponent for Munich. The UEFA draw rules make it possible. Or how about Bayern versus PSG for Lionel Messi? For the German representatives, (almost) everything is possible at today’s draw in Istanbul, from death groups to Transnistria. An overview of what can be drawn from 6 p.m. today.
Who is Qualified?
32 teams from 15 countries are fighting for the title in the premier class this season. Or at least are allowed to play along. However, 17 of the 32 teams come from the four top leagues (La Liga, Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A), and there was also a fixed starting place in the group phase for champions and runners-up from France and Portugal as well as the national champions from Russia and Belgium , Ukraine, the Netherlands and Turkey.
The other six teams had to go through the qualification: Austria’s champions RB Salzburg, who have to play in the European Cup as FC Salzburg, prevailed against the Danish champion Brondby. Benfica Lisbon and Shakhtar Donetsk had to survive two qualifying rounds, Young Boys Bern three, Malmö FF even four. Just like Sheriff Tiraspol, probably the most exotic Champions League participant of all time. The club are serial champions of the Republic of Moldova, but are based in the breakaway region of Transnistria.
How is the draw going?
The teams are drawn into eight groups of four. In the run-up to the drawing, UEFA created four lottery pots. First, the teams are drawn from pot 1 and divided into one of the eight groups one after the other, then pots 2, 3 and 4 continue. Pot 1 includes the national champions of the six top associations (Spain, England, Germany, Italy, France, Portugal) plus defending champion Chelsea and Europa League winner Villarreal.
The decisive factor for the allocation of pots 2 to 4 is the so-called UEFA coefficient, which shows the performance of the teams in the past five European Cup seasons. Borussia Dortmund has made it into lot 2 for the sixth time in a row. As in the previous year, RB Leipzig is in pot 3. VfL Wolfsburg has the second lowest coefficient of all participants and is therefore in pot 4.
The exact game schedule will be created by the computer after the draw. One of the things in this last step is to ensure that teams from one city do not play at home at the same time.
Who is in which pot?
Pot 1: Chelsea FC (defending champion), Villarreal FC (Europa League winner), Atlético Madrid, Manchester City, FC Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Lille OSC, Sporting Lisbon
Pot 2: Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Juventus Turin, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool FC, Sevilla FC, Borussia Dortmund
Pot 3: FC Porto, Ajax Amsterdam, Shakhtar Donetsk, RB Leipzig, FC Salzburg, Benfica Lisbon, Atalanta Bergamo, Zenit St. Petersburg
Pot 4: Besiktas Istanbul, Dynamo Kiev, Club Brugge, Young Boys Bern, AC Milan, Malmö FF, VfL Wolfsburg, Sheriff Tiraspol
Are there any restrictions?
Yes, several restrictions make the procedure complicated.
- Teams from the same country cannot be drawn into a group, as in the Champions League, according to the regulations, national duels can only take place from the quarter-finals.
- For political reasons, Russian teams are not allowed to end up in a group with representatives from Ukraine. Means: Zenit St. Petersburg may not play against Shakhtar Donetsk or Dynamo Kiev.
- In addition, UEFA divided the draw in half (group AD & group EH) and “paired” teams for this. So that the most popular clubs in a country do not play at the same time and compete for valuable TV time, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, for example, form one pair, Leipzig and Wolfsburg the other. That means: If FC Bayern is drawn into one of groups A to D, Dortmund will definitely end up in the lower half of the tournament (group E to H).
Are top games realistic in the group stage?
Yes, there will definitely be. This is mainly due to the top-class cast of the second lottery pot. Six former Champions League winners, the Europa League record champion Seville and the star ensemble of Paris St. Germain cavort there. The top team density in Pot 2 is even higher than in Pot 1, where Europa League winners Villarreal, Portuguese champions Sporting Lisbon and France’s sensation champions OSC Lille do not cause the greatest horror. Italy’s champions Inter Milan are also not among the top favorites after the departure of striker Romelu Lukaku.
Which groups threaten the German representatives?
Despite Pot 1, Bayern Munich can look forward to a top team in the preliminary round – for example, a duel with PSG and Lionel Messi, a test of strength with Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool or a quick reunion with David Alaba, who has migrated to Real Madrid.
Thanks to the lottery pot, Borussia Dortmund avoids several top teams early on. In any case, feasible opponents are more likely for BVB than a “death group”.
Like Bayern, RB Leipzig can prepare for a big opponent from Pot 2. A group-internal duel with Austria’s permanent champions Salzburg, however, is not possible. Both loose balls are in pot 3.
For VfL Wolfsburg, everything is possible from a “death group” (Chelsea, Paris, Bergamo) to a preliminary round with Europa League flair (Lille, Sevilla, Salzburg). After all, when they last competed in the Champions League in the 2015/16 season, Pot 4 didn’t stop the “Wolves” from making it to the quarter-finals.
If you want to simulate the draw, click here.
When will it be played?
The group stage is played on six match days at intervals of two to three weeks. It starts on September 14th, the last preliminary round games will take place on December 8th. The final will take place in St. Petersburg on May 28, 2022.