The groups for the 2014-2015 Champions League will be drawn in Monaco on Thursday as the 32 teams to have made it through to the tournament proper discover their fate. As well as the sides that qualified straight through on the basis of their league position last season, 10 teams secured their place via the playoff this week to complete the lineup. All have now been separated into four pots of eight teams from which the draw for the group phase, which begins next month, will be made.
As ever the pots are based on UEFA’s coefficients, determined by each club’s record in European competitions in the previous five seasons. Pot 1 then predictably includes Europe’s powerhouses, including holders Real Madrid, Spanish rivals Barcelona as well as fellow recent Champions League winners Bayern Munich and Chelsea. Arsenal, which negotiated a tense playoff against Beşiktaş to qualify for the 17th straight season, are also among the first seeds.
The second pot of teams also features plenty of quality, including 2013 finalists Borussia Dortmund, quarter finalists for the last two years Paris Saint-Germain and the champions of England and Italy -- Manchester City and Juventus, respectively. Pot 3 is where five-times European champions Liverpool will be drawn from as the famous English club makes their return to the Champions League after a five-year-absence. Four-times champions Ajax are another team that the top-seeded teams will be looking to avoid. There are potential pitfalls awaiting the top seeded clubs in Pot 4, too, with a rejuvenated Roma and big-spending Monaco facing the likelihood of having to negotiate tough groups.
The only restriction for the draw is that two teams from the same country cannot be drawn in the same group. The top two teams from each of the eight groups will qualify for the first knockout phase.
Zenit St Petersburg
Start time: 11.45 a.m. EDT
Live stream: UEFA.com