European football gets serious once again today with the Champions League draw set to take place in Monaco late this afternoon (4:45pm GMT).
The final ten places were decided through play-off qualification, with Braga, Malaga, Lille, Dynamo Kiev and Celtic just half of the additional teams to make it to this first stage of the competition proper.
Teams are split into four ‘pots’, with Chelsea heading section one after winning the trophy for the first time in their history last season. Didier Drogba’s equaliser sent the final against Bayern Munich into extra-time, and Roberto Di Matteo’s side subsequently won the penalty shootout.
The German giants are also in pot one this time around, along with Spanish duo Barcelona and Real Madrid. England has the most representatives with three (Manchester United and Arsenal), whilst FC Porto and AC Milan complete the seeded teams.
Pot Two has plenty of dangerous teams for the big boys to avoid, with Premier League champions Manchester City the standout side. Shakhtar Donetsk and Zenit St Petersburg make it three domestic champions in the second section.
Benfica are the only former winners in this section, with Braga making it two teams from Portugal in this particular group. Valencia, FC Schalke and Dynamo Kiev are the remaining second seeds.
If you’re looking for league champions, then Pots Three and Four are the places to be this season, with five and seven respectively out of a possible eight.
Italian giants Juventus are back in the big time and a team to look out for amongst the third seeds, whilst Ajax are another former winner of the competition looking to cause an upset. Olympiakos, Anderlecht and Galatasaray complete the list of domestic kings.
Two French sides are also in this pot, with big-spending Paris Saint-Germain and highly-rated Lille looking to reach the knockout rounds, whilst Spartak Moscow complete the group.
Bundesliga winners Borussia Dortmund are the team to watch in Pot Four, with the 1997 winners paying the price for a group stage exit in last year’s competition. The low seeding puts BVB alongside the likes of Scottish champions Celtic and Romanian winners Club Cluj.
Montpellier, last season’s Ligue 1 champions in France, are a team to fear, and they make their debut in the competition alongside Malaga (Spain) and FC Nordsjaelland (Denmark). Bate Borisov of Belarus, and Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia are the final teams in the competition.
Champions League - Group Stage seedings (in-full):
Zenit St Petersburg