The group stage will be set on Thursday at the 2012 UEFA Champions League draw, and fans can watch their team’s path to Wembley Stadium become clearer from anywhere in the world.
Some teams will be lucky enough to face lesser clubs who have already overachieved by reaching this point in the tournament. Others will be unfortunate enough to have to battle against the giants of European football.
There is also the possibility for a group of death, dooming a club with high expectations to an early exit.
Here is everything you need to know about this year’s draw.
Where: Grimaldi Forum, Monaco
When: Thursday, August 30, 11:20 a.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2 Go
Pots (via UEFA.com)
Pot 1: Chelsea, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Porto, AC Milan
Pot 2: Valencia, Benfica, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St. Petersburg, Schalke 04, Manchester City, Braga, Dynamo Kyiv
Pot 3: Olympiacos, Ajax, Anderlecht, Juventus, Spartak Moskva, Paris Saint-Germain, Lille, Glatasraray
Pot 4: Celtic, Borussia Dortmund, BATE Borisov, Dinamo Zagreb, 1907 Cluj, Malaga, Montpellier Herault, Nordsjælland
Teams That Could Make a Group of Death
No team in the same pot will end up in the same group. In order for a group of death to be picked, competitive teams from all four pots would have to be put in the same group.
In Pot 1, the only team that does not have stars littered across the pitch is Porto. The team certainly has talent, but it is not on the same level as the other clubs in this pot. Here are the four teams in the other pots that could make life difficult for the top clubs in the tournament.
Manchester City, Pot 2
City’s squad is insanely talented, and the Blues are significantly better than the other teams in Pot 2. If they are paired with any team in Pot 1 other than Porto, the makings of a fantastic group will be underway.
Juventus, Pot 3
Two teams will advance out of every group. If one of the teams in Pot 1 is put in the same group as City, this will not pose too much of a problem.
However, if City and Juve end up in the same group, then whichever team comes out of the top pot will be in for a serious fight to reach the knockout stage.
Paris Saint-Germain, Pot 3
Which of the teams not in Pot 1 has the best chance to reach the knockout stage?
PSG has spent huge sums of money to bring Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the French capital this summer, and Lucas Moura will join in January. Now the team boast an extremely competitive side and they too could put frowns on the faces of some of Europe’s biggest clubs if they end up in the same group as City.
Borussia Dortmund, Pot 4
The reigning Bundesliga champions suffered a blow this season when they lost Shinji Kagawa to Manchester United, but there are still several world-class talents on this team. They are significantly better than the other teams in Pot 4, and if they are put in the same group as the teams previously listed, fans will have their group of death.