Monday 1 May 2017

Revamped Champions League draw offers City no comfort

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was surprised to see his club's exit from the Champions League last year
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was surprised to see his club's exit from the Champions League last year

Jason Burt

It could be Barcelona again. It could be Bayern Munich once more.

Manchester City enter the Champions League draw in Monaco today knowing that the seedings have been rejigged but they could face familiar perils.

Their supporters will curse their luck. Last season City were champions but were not seeded. Now the champions of England are among the top seeds - after UEFA bowed to pressure from the biggest national associations to change the system - but City are no longer champions. Chelsea are. And they, too, could face a terrible draw because of the changes.

City will be in pot two along with Arsenal - and Real Madrid because of the change, and Manchester United. All the English clubs will scan the permutations of each potential opponent. And cross their fingers.

For City, four campaigns have resulted in reaching the last 16 twice and failing to get out of their group twice, which is simply not good enough for a club of their ambitions and resources.

Affront

For Chelsea, their last-16 defeat by PSG last season was a shock and an affront to manager Jose Mourinho and unacceptable to owner Roman Abramovich.

Arsenal - relegated from pot one along with both Madrid clubs and Porto - need to overcome the same barriers that appear to prevent them reaching higher than third in the Premier League.

They go so far, get out of the group, and not far beyond and must change.

The 'new-look' draw means that pot one has holders Barcelona, and the champions of the seven top associations.

As Barcelona are also Spanish champions it means that Holland, the eighth-ranked nation, is given a seeding with PSV Eindhoven.

The other pot one qualifiers are Chelsea, Bayern (Germany), Juventus (Italy), Benfica (Portugal) PSG (France) and Andre Villas-Boas's Zenit St Petersburg (Russia).

PSV, PSG and Zenit would only have been in pot three under the old system.

The remaining three pots are decided through each club's Uefa coefficient, which is how pot one used to be decided.

In pot two, therefore, will be Real, Atletico, Porto, Arsenal, City and Valencia. Pot three includes Sevilla, who become the first club to qualify by winning the Europa League, and with Valencia beating Monaco in their play-off it means Spain is also the first country to have five clubs in the draw.

A 'Group of Death' is easy to perm for the two (or three) English clubs in pot two. For example, they could draw Bayern, Sevilla and Wolfsburg (who, like Borussia Monchengladbach, sit dangerously in pot four). (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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