Premier League clubs will not release players for matches in red-list countries
Follow live coverage as the group stage draw for the 2021/22 Uefa Champions League takes place today, the start of another journey toward the biggest prize in club football.
Last year it was two Premier League teams who contested the final, Chelsea emerging as triumphant with a 1-0 win over Manchester City in Lisbon. This year, the road to European silverware leads clubs to the Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, with the final set to be contested on 28 May, 2022.
Liverpool and Manchester United have been paired by Uefa, meaning they cannot play group stage matches on the same evenings, and the same is true of Man City and Chelsea. Among the top seeds are Ligue 1 winners Lille and Europa League champions Villarreal; while perhaps the most notable club in this summer transfer window anywhere on the continent, Paris Saint-Germain, are in Pot 2 – though it remains to be seen if Kylian Mbappe plays for them in this year’s competition or transfers to Real Madrid, who are similarly in that second group.
The six games will take place across a two-and-a-half-month period, with the knock-outs starting into the new year as usual.
- Matchday 1: 14/15 September
- Matchday 2: 28/29 September
- Matchday 3: 19/20 October
- Matchday 4: 2/3 November
- Matchday 5: 23/24 November
- Matchday 6: 7/8 December
Champions League draw: The favourites
Paris St. Germain and Manchester City lead the odds with the bookmakers as favourites to win the Champions League this season in spite of the fact that neither side have won the competition.
With the addition of Lionel Messi this summer PSG pip Man City as favourites to win but there are some good odds on reigning champions Chelsea and Bundesliga winner Bayern Munich.
Man City: 41/10
Bayern Munich: 41/5
Michael Jones26 August 2021 16:52
Champions League draw: The qualifiers
Spain lead the way as the country with the most teams in the Champions League this season. They have five qualifiers, four through their finish in La Liga plus Villarreal after they won the Europa League.
England have four teams in the competition as do Germany and Italy.
Last night Austria’s RB Salzburg beat Brondy IF 2-1 to qualify 4-2 on aggregate whilst Moldova’s Sheriff Tiraspol beat Dinamo Zagreb (3-0 agg), and Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk defeated Monaco (3-2 agg) to make it into this year’s competition.
Michael Jones26 August 2021 16:46
Champions League draw: Will Declan Rice boost Man Utd’s chances?
There are plenty of whispers and rumours floating about whilst the transfer window remains open and one of the big ones concerns West Ham’s Declan Rice.
Manchester United are in the market for a holding midfielder as the final piece needed to solve Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s midfield jigsaw and Rice seemingly fits the bill. But will he join United and aid their chances at lifting the Champions League trophy?
Michael Jones26 August 2021 16:32
Champions League draw: Who will Manchester United face?
Manchester United were drawn in a tough group last season alongside PSG, RB Leipzig and Istanbul Basaksehir. They started perfectly with wins over PSG and RB Leipzig but a shock defeat to Istanbul Basaksehir meant they needed to beat one of either Leipzig or PSG in the last two matches to progress. This they failed to do and they dropped out of the competition raising questions over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s managerial qualities.
Like Liverpool, United should face an easier task to reach the knockout stages this season and Solskjaer will come under the spotlight once again if they fail to do so:
Michael Jones26 August 2021 16:26
Champions League draw: Who will Liverpool be drawn with?
Most of the historically big teams are in Pot 2 this year as it consists of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool, Sevilla, and Borussia Dortmund.
That means they will avoid each other in the group stages but could result in some tasty knockout stage fixtures. Jurgen Klopp will be pleased though. In comparison to Chelsea and Manchester City, Liverpool should have an easier path to the round of 16.
Michael Jones26 August 2021 16:20
Champions League draw: Who will Manchester City get?
The Champions League trophy still eludes Manchester City. It is the one they most desperately want to win and it is the only competition coach Pep Guardiola hasn’t won during his time at the Manchester club.
They are one of the favourites to come close again this season but, like Chelsea, they face a potentially tough group stage:
Michael Jones26 August 2021 16:14
Champions League draw: Who will Chelsea face?
As reigning Champions League winners Chelsea are in Pot 1 for the draw. They can’t be drawn against Manchester City, Manchester United or Liverpool but there are many other permutations that could happen including a tough opponent from Pot 2:
Michael Jones26 August 2021 16:08
Champions League draw: The 2021 final
Chelsea are the reigning Champions League winners. They travelled to Porto back in May to face Manchester City at the Estadio do Dragao.
Kai Havertz scored in the 42nd minute and City were unable to respond leading to a 1-0 victory for the Blues and a first trophy for Chelsea under boss Thomas Tuchel.
Chelsea have since brought reinforcements into their squad in the shape of 2020/21 Serie A winner Romelu Lukaku and they’ll be looking to defend their title again this season.
Michael Jones26 August 2021 16:02
Champions League draw: How does the draw work?
The teams will be split into four seeding pots. Pot 1 will be made up of the holders (Chelsea), the Europa League winners (Villarreal) and the champions of the six highest-ranked nations given neither Chelsea nor Villarreal won their domestic leagues. Manchester City are in Pot 1.
Pots 2 to 4 will be determined by club coefficient rankings. Liverpool and Manchester United are both in Pot 2 with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund amongst others.
In the group stages no team can play a side from their own domestic league and clubs are paired together (Barcelona and Real Madrid, Liverpool and Man United, Inter and Juventus, and so on).
This way no team from the same domestic league plays on the same evening in the group stages. For example if Manchester United are drawn out early to play on a Tuesday in week one, Liverpool will go in the other side of the draw and play on the Wednesday.
Michael Jones26 August 2021 15:55
Champions League draw: No Harry Kane
Speaking of potential transfers, the summer’s most talked about move isn’t actually happening. Manchester City were circling for Tottenham’s Harry Kane but it seems negotiations have broken down and Kane won’t feature in the Champions League this season.
Kane let it be known that he wanted to move to a club with Champions League football, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola wanted Kane at the Eithad, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy wanted a huge transfer fee.
All parties couldn’t agree on terms though and yesterday Kane announced that he’ll be staying at Tottenham for the foreseeable future.
Michael Jones26 August 2021 15:43