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Champions League group stage draw: How to watch; pots & potential Chelsea opponents

Balls of fate

FBL-EUR-C1-DRAW Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

The draw for the 2021-22 Champions League group stage will be held tonight in Istanbul, 6pm local time (5pm London time), and as usual, will be streamed live for all to see (alongside announcing the winners of all the individual UEFA awards from last season.)

A couple familiar faces will be swirling and choosing the balls of fate, with Heroes of 2012 Branislav Ivanović and Michael Essien the special guests assisting with this draw.

Chelsea, as the defending Champions of Europe will be seeded in Pot 1, alongside the league winners from England (Manchester City), Spain (Atlético Madrid), Germany (Bayern), Italy (Inter), France (Lille), and Portugal (Sporting CP), plus the Champions of Europa, Villarreal, whom we beat in the Super Cup a few weeks ago.

Thanks to some of the unexpected winners in certain countries last season, Pot 2 has a veritable murderers’ row of potential opponents, including Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG, and Juventus.

Pot 3, as usual, has all the favorite second teams of football hipsters around the world, while Pot 4 has some of the lesser seen names, including first-timers Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova!

POT 1: Chelsea, Villarreal, Atlético Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Lille, Sporting CP

POT 2: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester United, PSG, Liverpool, Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund

POT 3: FC Porto, Ajax Amsterdam, Shakhtar Donetsk, RB Leipzig, RB Salzburg, Benfica, Atalanta, Zenit St Petersburg

POT 4: Besiktas, Dynamo Kiev, Club Brugge, Young Boys, AC Milan, Malmö FF, VfL Wolfsburg, Sheriff Tiraspol

The easiest draw we could get is probably something like Sevilla, Zenit, and Sheriff, while the toughest draw might be something along the lines of Real Madrid, Leipzig, and AC Milan. The football gods do love a narrative, which would get maximized with a PSG (Tuchel), Ajax (Ziyech), and AC Milan (Tomori, Giroud, etc) draw.

You can simulate your own draw here, while waiting for the real thing to start at 5pm BST / 12pm EDT — streamed live on UEFA, BT Sport (UK), Paramount+ (USA), and many other places.

Here’s a run I just did, which would do just fine in real life.