UEFA Champions League 2012 Group Stage Draw: Complete Guide
The draw for the UEFA Champions League group stage takes place in Monaco on Thursday, with 32 teams set to discover their fate in the world's premier club football competition.
Last season's champions Chelsea will be seeking to become the first team to retain its European title since AC Milan won back-to-back editions in 1989 and 1990—back in the old format of the European Cup.
Standing in their way will be the usual cast of European football's finest. Barcelona and Real Madrid will be much fancied, as always, while big-spending Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are being tipped by many for a serious run this year.
You can follow Max Towle's live blog of the draw right here, from 12 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday.
In the meantime, here's everything you need to know.
Where's the Draw Taking Place?
The Grimaldi Forum in Monaco will play host to this year's Champions League group stage draw.
Atletico Madrid and Chelsea are in town for the UEFA Super Cup, and both will give press conferences at the venue on Thursday before we get to the business of drawing balls.
The draw itself will begin at 5:45 p.m. local time, which translates to 11:45 a.m. Eastern.
At some point, the winner of the UEFA Best Player in Europe 2012 award will be announced, too.
UEFA president Michel Platini is sure to be present, along with the usual array of esteemed former players and representatives from the 32 clubs in the draw.
What Are the Seedings?
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Here are the seedings for all 32 teams, as per UEFA's club coefficient scores:
Chelsea, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Porto, AC Milan
Valencia, Benfica, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St. Petersburg, Schalke, Manchester City, Braga, Dynamo Kiev
Olympiacos, Anderlecht, Ajax, Juventus, Spartak Moscow, Paris Saint-Germain, Galatasaray, Lille
Celtic, Borussia Dortmund, BATE Borisov, Dinamo Zagreb, CFR Cluj, Montpellier, Malaga, Nordsjaelland
How Does the Draw Work?
Each of the eight groups—A to H—will be made up of one team from each of the four pots. We already know Chelsea, as holders, will be the team from Pot 1 in Group A.
The only condition for the draw is that no two teams from the same country can be in the same pot.
POTENTIAL GROUP OF DEATH
- Barcelona, Manchester City, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund
When Does the Real Action Start?
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The four teams in each group will face each other home and away. This gives up six "matchdays," with each spread across a Tuesday and Wednesday.
Matchday 1—18/19 September
Matchday 2—2/3 October
Matchday 3—23/24 October
Matchday 4—6/7 November
Matchday 5—20/21 November
Matchday 6—4/5 December
Who Are the Favorites?
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Barcelona went trophy-less last season, but they're still favorites with most bookmakers to triumph this year under Tito Vilanova.
Real Madrid are a close second, with Manchester United and Manchester City deemed the next most likely.
Holders Chelsea are at around 12-1 to repeat, while Juventus are priced as high as 18-1 with some bookies in England.
Cash-rich PSG, Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund are in the next group back.