FC Barcelona are one of the top-seeded teams in this week’s Champions League draw. But that’s nothing new. Since the group stage was expanded to 32 teams in 1999/00, the Catalans have always been among the eight highest ranked clubs, apart from in the 2003/04 season when they played in the UEFA Cup.
This season the seeding system has been changed. The honour no longer goes to the clubs with the highest UEFA coefficient, but instead to the champions of the leagues with the highest coefficients. That means that some of the clubs that are typically among the top seeds, such as Arsenal and Real Madrid, miss out on a place in the coveted pot number one.
The eight seeds on Thurday in Monaco will be Barça, Chelsea, Bayern, Juventus, Benfica, PSG, Zenit and PSV. It’s a completely new experience for the latter three, while Juventus have not been top seeded since the 2003/04 season.
Being one of the top seeds seems to be an important factor in the Champions League. In the last 16 years, 56% of them have ended up winning their group, and only 14% have been knocked out. And 12 of the last 16 European champions were one of the eight seeds at the start of the group stage. That’s great news for Barça, who have been top seeded more than any other club!