The draw for the Champions League group stages will be made tomorrow, Thursday, the 27th of August. You'll be able to watch it live online at UEFA.com, or on your TV on Fox Sports 1 (USA) or BT Sport (UK) or Ten Action (India). TV listings for many other countries can be found over at LiveSoccerTV. The draw has become an ever more elaborate production over the years, and this year's event in Monaco will be no different. It's scheduled to start at 17:45 local time (CEST), which translates to 11:45am Eastern in the USA (4:45pm in London).
As before, the 32 entrants will be divided into 4 pots of eight, from which the 8 groups of four will be drawn. Chelsea, as Champions of England are in pot 1, alongside the holders (Barcelona) and the winners of the other top 8 associations as ranked by UEFA. This is the major change from previous years as we've talked about before. And because Barca won both the Champions League and the Spanish League, the champions of the Netherlands are included in pot 1 as well.
The rest of the pots are decided in order of UEFA club coefficiants, and are made up of the winners of the other UEFA-member leagues who made it this far and the other at-large qualifies who have come through the qualifying rounds and playoffs.
Pot 1: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Benfica, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Zenit St. Petersburg, PSV
Pot 2: Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, FC Porto, Arsenal, Manchester United, Valencia, Manchester City, Bayer Leverkusen
Pot 3: Shakhtar Donetsk, Sevilla, Olympique Lyonnais, Dynamo Kiev, Olympiacos Piraeus, CSKA Moscow, Galatasaray, AS Roma
Pot 4: BATE Borisov, Borussia M'gladbach, Wolfsburg, Dinamo Zagreb, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, KAA Gent, Malmo FF, Lokomotiv Astana
Due to the usual rules, Chelsea are almost guaranteed to face Iberan opposition from Pot 2 (either Real, Atletico, Valencia, or Porto), while storyline-filled matchups can be found both in Pot 3 (Roma) and Pot 4 (Gladbach, Wolfsburg, and far-away Astana).
Who would you like to have in Chelsea's group?
Here's my nightmare scenario: Chelsea, Real Madrid, Olympique Lyonnais, Wolfsburg.
The group stage will get underway in mid-September, with the first matchday scheduled for the 15th and 16th of September.