The UEFA Champions League group stage draw came with high profile clashes that fans wanted to see.
Group B features four continental powers – Atlético Madrid, Liverpool, Porto and AC Milan – while tournament favorites Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain were drawn together in Group A.
Bayern Munich (Germany) will face Barcelona (Spain) and Chelsea (England) will face Juventus (Italy) in other attractive matches of the draw. Manchester United and Villarreal of Spain will also face each other again in the rematch of the 2021 Europa League final.
All group stage matches will be played in the six pre-programmed windows: September 14-15, September 28-29, October 19-20, November 2-3, November 23-24 and November 7-8. December.
Champions League draw groups
Pot 1: Manchester City (England)
Pot 2: Paris Saint-Germain (France)
Pot 3: RB Leipzig (Germany)
Pot 4: Club Brugge (Belgium)
Pot 1: Atlético de Madrid (Spain)
Pot 2: Liverpool (England)
Pot 3: Porto (Portugal)
Pot 4: AC Milan (Italy)
Pot 1: Sporting CP (Portugal)
Pot 2: Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
Pot 3: Ajax (Netherlands)
Pot 4: Besiktas (Turkey)
Pot 1: Inter Milan (Italy)
Pot 2: Real Madrid (Spain)
Pot 3: Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)
Pot 4: Sheriff Tiraspol (Moldova)
Pot 1: Bayern Munich (Germany)
Pot 2: FC Barcelona (Spain)
Pot 3: Benfica (Portugal)
Pot 4: Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine)
Pot 1: Villarreal (Spain)
Pot 2: Manchester United (England)
Pot 3: Atalanta (Italy)
Pot 4: BSC Young Boys (Switzerland)
Pot 1: LOSC Lille (France)
Pot 2: Seville (Spain)
Pot 3: RB Salzburg (Austria)
Pot 4: VfL Wolfsburg (Germany)
Pot 1: Chelsea (England)
Pot 2: Juventus (Italy)
Pot 3: Zenit St. Petersburg (Russia)
Pot 4: Malmo FF (Sweden)
How the group stage draw worked
The 32 teams were split into four pots containing eight teams each. A name for each vessel was drawn for each of Group A through Group H.
The eight teams in Pot 1 were predetermined: The pot consisted of the Champions League holders (Chelsea), the Europa League holders (Villarreal CF) and the champions of the top six classified associations: Spain (Atlético Madrid), England (Manchester City), Germany (Bayern Munich), Italy (Inter Milan), France (Lille) and Portugal (Sporting CP).
Bayern Munich (Germany) Manchester City (England) Atlético Madrid (Spain) Chelsea (England) Villarreal (Spain/UEFA Europa League holders) Inter Milan (Italy) Sporting CP (Portugal) LOSC Lille (France)
Real Madrid (Spain) FC Barcelona (Spain) Juventus (Italy) Manchester United (England) Paris Saint-Germain (France) Liverpool (England) Seville (Spain) Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
FC Porto (Portugal) Ajax (Netherlands) Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) RB Leipzig (Germany) RB Salzburg (Austria) Benfica (Portugal) Atalanta (Italy) Zenit St. Petersburg (Russia)
Besiktas (Turkey) Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine) Club Brugge (Belgium) BSC Young Boys (Switzerland) AC Milan (Italy) Malmo FF (Sweden) VfL Wolfsburg (Germany) Sheriff Tiraspol (Moldova)
Draw restrictions: teams could not be drawn into groups against teams from their own countries. Furthermore, to maximize television viewing, UEFA goes further to make sure that certain national teams from the same country are not grouped into groups playing on the same day. Thus, Barcelona and Real Madrid, for example, do not play at the same time, which would cannibalize the TV audience in Spain, let alone worldwide.
That’s how UEFA did it: before the draw, organizers identified the teams they wanted to ensure they played on different days. If one of these teams were drawn to Groups A-D, the other team would have to be drawn to one of Groups E-H, thus ensuring that the two teams never played on the same day. The same happened if one of the flagged teams was drawn in Groups E-H (the other team would have to be drawn in one of Groups A-D). Here are the teams that UEFA announced would not play on the same day:
England: Chelsea and Manchester City
England: Manchester United and Liverpool
France: LOSC Lille and Paris Saint-Germain
Germany: Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund
Germany: RB Leipzig and VfL Wolfsburg
Italy: Inter Milan and Juventus
Italy: Atalanta and AC Milan
Portugal: Porto and Benfica
Spain: Real Madrid and Barcelona
Spain: Atlético Madrid and Sevilla
Ukraine: Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kiev