Football Features

Champions League group stage draw: the worst-case scenarios for Premier League clubs

By Harry Edwards

Published: 13:34, 27 August 2019 | Updated: 15:38, 29 August 2019

With domestic football now back across Europe, the return of the Champions League is just around the corner.

Since June teams have been fighting on the path to reach the Champions League group stage, starting in the preliminary round before going through three qualifying stages to reach the play-offs, which ended this week.

Now those are over the planning for the group stage can go ahead, starting with the eagerly-anticipated draw.

The qualifying rounds have already seen some big names fall with the likes of Porto, Copenhagen, Dynamo Kyiv, Basel and Celtic all missing out on this season’s Champions League.

So who will be in the draw for the Champions League group stage, and when is it? Read on to find out everything you need to know…

When is the draw?

The draw for the 2019/20 Champions League group stage will take place on Thursday, 29 August at 17:00 BST from the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.

Where can I watch the draw live?

UK residents will be able to watch the Champions League group stage draw live on Uefa’s website and BT Sport 2, channel 414 on Sky and channel 528 for Virgin media users. BT Sport subscribers can also watch the game online at sport.bt.com and via their BT Sport app.

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Pots

Pot 1: Liverpool, Chelsea, Barcelona, Manchester City, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Zenit.
Pot 2: Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Shakhtar Donetsk, Tottenham Hotspur, Ajax, Benfica.
Pot 3: Lyon, Bayer Leverkusen, Red Bull Salzburg, Olympiacos, Club Brugge, Valencia, Inter Milan, Dinamo Zagreb.
Pot 4: Lokomotiv Moscow, Genk, Galatasaray, RB Leipzig, Slavia Prague, Red Star Belgrade, Atalanta, Lille.

As always, no team can play a club from their own nation and clubs from Russia and Ukraine must not be drawn into the same group.

What are the worst-case scenarios for Premier League sides?

For the first time since the change in the pot system, England have three teams in Pot 1, with Liverpool and Chelsea joining Premier League champions Manchester City due to their respective European trophy victories last season.

However, no longer do teams in Pot 1 have a straightforward route in the Champions League, and there are certain teams English clubs will be looking to avoid in the group stage.

Which opponents could represent the ‘worst-case scenario’ for each team from these shores?

Liverpool

Opponents: Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, RB Leipzig

As defending European champions, Liverpool fans will be scared of no one, but the Reds could find themselves with a tricky group.

Although Real Madrid are the biggest name in Pot 2, Liverpool may fancy themselves more in a repeat of the 2019 final than against their neighbours Atletico Madrid. As everyone already knows, Atleti are a defensive machine and will happily set up to frustrate Liverpool’s attacking side.

Pot 3 holds several challenges but Inter Milan may pose the biggest for Liverpool, with Conte’s side set to cause problems at both ends of the pitch and, with Lukaku leading the line, will be looking to assert themselves back at the top of European football.

Then there’s potentially the toughest team in Pot 4, Bundesliga’s RB Leipzig. Julian Nagelsmann’s side have enjoyed a good start to the new Bundesliga campaign and have Timo Werner committed to the club until 2023.

Chelsea

Opponents: Real Madrid, Inter Milan, RB Leipzig

Chelsea’s worst-case scenario would see them reunited with three ex-players and a former boss in a daunting group.

Although some Chelsea fans may be dreaming of an early Eden Hazard reunion, Real Madrid would fancy their chances of exploiting the Blues’ weak defence – not to mention Thibaut Courtois trying to get one over the fans who turned against him following his departure.

Then there’s another potential return with Inter Milan, led by Antonio Conte and boasting Romelu Lukaku. The pair will no doubt want to prove themselves in the Champions League this season, and would relishing doing so at the expense of their former club.

And once again RB Leipzig represent the team most clubs will be hoping to avoid from Pot 4.

Manchester City

Opponents: Borussia Dortmund, Lyon, Galatasaray

Manchester City’s potentially worst group would see them tested in both defence and attack by some big names.

In Borussia Dortmund, City would come up against an exciting young side featuring Jadon Sancho, who will no doubt want to show his former employers exactly what they’re missing out on. Lyon caused City various problems in their group stage ties last season, taking four points off the Premier League champions and would fancy their chances to do the same again this year.

And Turkish champions Galatasaray should not be overlooked as a tricky team, with City yet to face the giants. A trip to Turkey amid a packed Premier League schedule rarely represents a straightforward three points.

Spurs

Opponents: Juventus, Valencia, RB Leipzig

Tottenham managed to get through a problematic group last season en route to the final, finishing second behind Barcelona and ahead of Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven.

This season, however, could see them in a trickier group – similar to the one Manchester United faced last year.

Juventus will be looking to start their quest for European glory with a bang and are a side Spurs will want to avoid, especially after the heartache of 2017/18. Valencia were not the dark horses many expected them to be last season but did cause problems and will not travel to north London short of confidence.

Once again, RB Leipzig complete a group that would leave Mauricio Pochettino with plenty to ponder. It is unlikely Spurs can afford to start as sloppily as they did in last season’s group stage and still survive.

When will the group stage fixtures be played?

Matchweek 1: 17-18 September
Matchweek 2: 1-2 October
Matchweek 3: 22-23 October
Matchweek 4: 5-6 November
Matchweek 5: 26-27 November
Matchweek 6: 10-11 December

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