Following this week’s qualifying matches, we now know which 32 teams will be competing in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League group stage – the first step on the path for just two of those clubs to the grand final, which this year is being played for the first time ever in the Welsh capital city of Cardiff.
The draw is being held on Thursday 25 August at 6.00pm CET in Monaco, at which UEFA will also be presenting its individual awards for the 2015/16 edition of the competition.
Shortly after the draw’s completion, the exact fixtures will be revealed. Group matches start in Tuesday 13 September and conclude on Wednesday 7 December.
FC Barcelona will be presented at the event by its vice-president Jordi Mestre, the director of professional sports Albert Soler and the club’s UEFA delegates Amador Bernabéu and David Bellver.
FC Barcelona, as Spanish Liga champions, will go into Pot One. They’ll be joined as top seeds by the champions of Europe’s other highest ranking leagues, Leicester City (England), Bayern Munich (Germany), Juventus (Italy), Benfica (Portugal), PSG (France) and CSKA Moscow (Russia), as well as defending champions Real Madrid.
That means, of course, that Barça will not have to play any of those seven clubs in the first round.
The second set of teams includes Atlético Madrid and Europa League champions Sevilla, neither of which can face Barça because they play in the same domestic league. The six possible opponents for the Catalans are therefore Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Arsenal (England), Porto (Portugal), Napoli (Italy), Bayer Leverkusen (Germany) and Manchester City (England).
Barça could play any of the eight teams in the third pot. They are Tottenham (England), Dinamo Kíev (Ukraine), Olympique Lyon (France), PSV Eindhoven (Holland), Sporting Lisbon (Portugal), Bruges (Belgium), Basel (Switzerland) or Borussia Mönchengladbach (Germany).
Barça can also face any of the eight team in the lowest seeded group. Those clubs are Monaco (France), Besiktas (Turkey), Legia Warsaw (Poland), Ludogorets (Bulgaria), Copenhagen (Denmark), Rostov (Russia), Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) and Celtic (Scotland).