Manchester City are returning to the Champions League this season after heartache in the final last season at the hands of Chelsea.
Kai Havertz’s Porto goal turned Pep Guardiola’s side down, leading the Cityzens to spend £ 100million on Jack Grealish to further increase their chances of becoming European Champions.
Harry Kane could still arrive, although negotiations with Tottenham are non-existent at the moment.
City remains one of the favorites, however, hidden behind Paris Saint-Germain after the acquisition of Lionel Messi.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2021/22 Champions League group stage draw and who the Cityzens could face.
When is it?
The draw for the group stage will take place in Istanbul on Thursday 26 August at 5 p.m. BST.
How can I watch it?
UEFA, the governing body of European football, will broadcast the draw live on its website.
In the UK, BT Sport will also broadcast the draw live on BT Sport 2 HD and the broadcaster’s site.
Who can draw Man City?
Man City are in the first pot as Premier League champions, which means they cannot draw other teams from pot one: Bayern Munich, Chelsea (also due to the fact that the European champions belong same national league), Atlético de Madrid, Villarreal, Inter Milan, Sporting and Lille.
Pot one is made up of Champions League holders, Europa League holders and champions from the top six associations (Spain, England, Germany, Italy, France, Portugal), the remaining pots depend on the UEFA coefficients , which could change depending on who comes out of this week’s play-offs.
Group stage draws as it stands
Pot one: Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Atlético de Madrid, Villarreal, Inter Milan, Sporting, Lille
Pot two: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool, Seville, Borussia Dortmund
Pot three: Porto, Ajax, Leipzig, Atalante, Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Pot three or four: PLUS: Shakhtar or Monaco, Salzburg or Brondby, Benfica or PSV, Besiktas, Dynamo Kiev, Dinamo Zagreb or Sheriff Tiraspol.
Pot four: Bruges, Young Boys or Ferencvaros, AC Milan, Ludogorets or Malmo, Wolfsburg.
Due to playing in the same league, Man City cannot draw the pot two teams Manchester United or Liverpool, which means that a tough test is almost certain to host them in the group stage with one of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund.
City can therefore face any of the pot three teams Porto, Ajax, Leipzig, Atalanta and Zenit Saint Petersburg. They could also face one of Shakhtar Donetsk, Salzburg, Benfica and Dinamo Zagreb, if they win their play-off, while Besiktas and Dynamo Kiev are also options if two or more of that aforementioned quartet lose in play-offs.
This means Guardiola’s side could face AC Milan in pot four, with Brugge and Wolfsburg certainly also options. Monaco, Brondby, PSV and Sheriff Tiraspol could fall into pot four if they win their play-offs, as do Young Boys’ winners against Ferencvaros and Ludogorets against Malmö.
To conclude, an example of a difficult group on paper for City could be: Paris Saint-Germain, Zenit Saint-Petersburg, AC Milan.
A slightly nicer draw for many might be: Seville, Ajax, Bruges.
Which teams are involved?
Thirty-two clubs will take part in the group stage, of which 26 have already qualified.
The final play-offs will take place on Wednesday to determine which six clubs will join the teams below – separated by country – in the group stage:
Spain: Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Villarreal
England: Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea
Germany: Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund, Wolfsburg
Italy: Inter Milan, AC Milan, Atalanta, Juventus
France: Lille, Paris Saint-Germain
Portugal: Sporting Lisbon, Porto
Russia: Zenit Saint Petersburg
Belgium: Club Brugge
Ukraine: Dynamo Kiev
The other play-offs are: Ferencvaros vs Young Boys; PSV Eindhoven v Benfica; Ludogorets against Malmö; Brondby v RB Salzburg; Shakhtar Donetsk against Monaco; Dinamo Zagreb versus Sheriff Tiraspol.
How does the draw work?
The teams will be divided into four pots of seedlings. Pot 1 will be made up of the starters (Chelsea), Europa League winners (Villarreal) and champions from the top six nations – given that neither Chelsea nor Villarreal have won their domestic championships. Pots 2 to 4 will be determined by the ranking of the coefficients of the clubs.
No team can play a team from its own national league. The pots will be confirmed before the start of the raffle ceremony.
Several prizes for the 2020/21 edition of the competition will also be awarded.
When does the Champions League group stage take place?
Day 1: September 14/15
Day 2: September 28/29
Day 3: October 19/20
Day 4: 2/3 November
Day 5: 23/24 November
Day 6: December 7/8
Who are the favorites to win the competition?
Man City: 41/10
Bayern Munich: 41/5