GROUP STAGE DRAW

Dangers lurk in UCL draw for English sides

August 25, 2010

Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal will all be among the top seeds for Thursday's Champions League draw in Monaco - but could still find themselves facing Real Madrid in the group stage.

• Live Champions League draw at 17.00 BST

The English trio are among eight clubs in the top pot meaning they will avoid the likes of champions Inter Milan, Barcelona and beaten finalists Bayern Munich.

However Real Madrid are only in the second pot of eight clubs and would provide stiff opposition in the group phase, as would fellow Spanish side Valencia and Werder Bremen.

Tottenham, if they get past Swiss side Young Boys tonight, would be in the third pot along with Rangers meaning they would have to be in a group with strong sides from the top two pots.

UEFA's rules for the draw will see the 32 qualified teams allocated into eight groups of four teams. Each group will contain a top seed, plus one club each from the second, third and fourth pots.

Each pot is determined by a club's UEFA coefficient but even the fourth pot contains some teams the British clubs would hope to avoid such as Spartak Moscow and Dutch champions FC Twente, the side Steve McClaren managed until he moved to Wolfsburg.

No English sides can play each other before the quarter-finals but the trio of top seeds could face Rangers.

Likely pots for Champions League draw:

Pot one: Inter Milan, Barcelona, Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Lyon.

Pot two: Werder Bremen, Real Madrid, Roma, Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica, Valencia, Marseille, Zenit St Petersburg*.

Pot three: Panathinaikos, Tottenham*, Rangers, Ajax*, Schalke, Basle, Braga, FC Copenhagen*.

Pot four: Spartak Moscow, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Sparta Prague*, FC Twente, Rubin Kazan, CFR Cluj, Partizan Belgrade, Bursaspor.

* if qualify tonight