It’s not long now until you can unashamedly belt out the iconic Champions League anthem from your sofa as European football returns to our screens in September.
Pep Guardiola’s side are favourites to win the competition ahead of defending champions Real Madrid, who have won the last three competitions. With Ronaldo Juventus will pose a significant threat and Barcelona will continue to lurk.
The new format of the group stage draw means that English sides face potentially tougher opponents than in years gone by, which lessens the chance of topping the group and therefore likely pitting them against trickier opponents in the round of 16.
Pot one of the draw contains the reigning champions, Real Madrid, the champions of the top-six domestic leagues, and the 2017/18 Europa League winners Atletico Madrid.
Liverpool’s pot is dependent on the result of the play-off tie between Benfica and PAOK. A Benfica victory will demote Liverpool to pot three but a win for PAOK will place the 2017/18 finalists in pot two. The tie is level after a 1-1 draw in Portugal and the second leg concludes on Wednesday.
Which club is in which pot?
*Final pots have not been confirmed
Three play-off winners
Best and worst case scenarios
Borussia Dortmund are the stand-out side in Pot Two which teams will want to avoid, City included. They drew the German side in their group in the 2012/13 season when they finished bottom of their group. Drawing 1-1 at the Etihad and losing 1-0 in Germany may mean that City will be keep to avoid the German Bundasliga runners up. And if it’s anything to go by, Mario Gotze score the only goal when these sides met in pre-season.
Elsewhere Monaco in Pot Three are another team that City will want to avoid after they beat them in the round of 16 in Guardiola’s first season in charge.
Best outcome: Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, Club Brugge
Worst outcome: Borussia Dortmund, Monaco, Inter Milan
Every team will be eyeing up drawing Lokomotiv Moscow from Pot One, and Jose Mourinho will be no different as he aims to use the Champions League as a welcome distraction from domestic shortcomings.
United crashed out of last year’s competition in the round of 16 against Sevilla, and could well struggle to make it out of their group if they get a less than desirable draw.
Best outcome: Lokomotiv Moscow, Lyon, Club Brugge
Worst outcome: Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco, Inter Milan
Spurs stunned Europe when they topped their group ahead of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund last season, which included a 3-1 win against Los Blancos and a draw at the Bernabau.
With this in mind, Tottenham will go into the competition with the confidence that they can beat anyone and hope for the least amount of travelling for their thin squad.
Best outcome: Lokomotiv Mosciw, Lyon, Club Brugge
Worst outcome: Barcelona, Monaco, Galatasaray
As mentioned, the best and worst draws for Liverpool will depend on other results before any fixtures are announce, however, given their emphatic run to the final last year, they may well fancy anyone they face.
Best outcome (placed in Pot Two): Lokomotiv Moscow, Lyon, Club Brugge
Worst outcome (placed in Pot Three): Juventus, Napoli, Monaco.
When are the group matches?
Matchday One: September 18 and 19
Matchday Two: October 2 and 3
Matchday Three: October 23 and 24
Matchday Four: November 6 and 7
Matchday Five: November 27 and 28
Matchday Six: December 11 and 12
Who are the favourites to win the tournament?
- 5/1: Manchester City
- 6/1: Juventus
- 7/1: Barcelona
- 8/1: Paris Saint-Germain
- 9/1: Bayern Munich
- 9/1: Real Madrid
- 10/1: Liverpool
- 12/1: Atletico Madrid
- 14/1: Manchester United
- 25/1: Tottenham Hotspur
- 33/1: Napoli
- 50/1: Inter Milan