Champions League draw: clubs, pots, format and all you need to know
Liverpool will be on the harder side of Thursday’s draw after Benfica won a play-off, with Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham the other Premier League clubs involved.
Liverpool, runners-up in the Champions League last season, will be in pot three in Thursday afternoon’s group-stage draw after Benfica saw off Paok Thessaloniki in the play-offs.
Had Benfica lost then Liverpool would have joined Manchester United and Tottenham in pot two. Manchester City are in pot one.
The draw, which begins at 5pm BST, will determine the make-up of the eight Champions League groups. One team from each pot will be placed in each group. No teams from the same country can be drawn in the same group and Uefa has also ruled that clubs from Russia and Ukraine cannot face one another.
Pot one consists of the holders (Real Madrid), the Europa League winners (Atlético Madrid) and the champions of the six highest-ranked nations. Pots two to four are determined by the club coefficient rankings.
The one surprise in Wednesday night’s play-offs was the elimination of RB Salzburg by Red Star Belgrade, who came back from 2-0 down in Austria to draw 2-2 and advance on away goals.
Pot one Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Juventus, PSG, Lokomotiv Moscow
Pot two Borussia Dortmund, Porto, Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica, Napoli, Tottenham, Roma
Pot three Liverpool, Schalke, Lyon, Monaco, Ajax, CSKA Moscow, PSV Eindhoven, Valencia
Pot four Viktoria Plzen, Club Brugge, Galatasaray, Young Boys, Internazionale, Hoffenheim, Red Star Belgrade, AEK Athens
The draw will be covered live on theguardian.com/football
Cover photo: The draw for the Champions League group stage begins at 5pm BST on Thursday. Photo: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian