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Sport Champions League group stage draw: All you need to know

20:01  29 september  2020
20:01  29 september  2020 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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a group of football players posing for a picture: MailOnline logo © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo

The Premier League may just be starting to heat up, but it's almost time to find out who the English teams will face in Europe.

The draw for the group stage of the Champions League, which begins next month, takes place this week, with Liverpool, Manchester United, City and Chelsea all waiting to find out which sides stand in their way of the knockout phase.

Holders Bayern Munich are the bookmakers' favourites, with Real Madrid, PSG and Juventus among the big guns waiting to be plucked out of pot one.

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a group of people posing for the camera: Manuel Neuer lifts the Champions League trophy after Bayern Munich's victory last season © Provided by Daily Mail Manuel Neuer lifts the Champions League trophy after Bayern Munich's victory last season

There are still six spots up for grabs in the group-stage draw this week, which will be decided in the second legs of the play-off round on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But with the coronavirus pandemic still sweeping around Europe, UEFA are braced for the most logistically challenging competition ever.

Here, Sportsmail tells you everything you need to know about the group-stage draw.

WHEN IS THE DRAW?

The group-stage draw will take place this Thursday, October 1. The ceremony begins at 4pm (BST), with the draw itself likely to start around 4.10pm.

The Europa League equivalent will be held on Friday, October 2 from 12pm (BST).

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WHERE IS IT TAKING PLACE?

This season's group-stage draw was originally scheduled to take place in Greece but it has now been moved to Switzerland, where UEFA's headquarters are based.

It will be broadcast live from the RTS Studios in Geneva, with coverage available on uefa.com and BT Sport 1.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Premier League champions Liverpool will be in pot one for Thursday afternoon's draw © Provided by Daily Mail Premier League champions Liverpool will be in pot one for Thursday afternoon's draw

HOW HAS THE PANDEMIC IMPACTED THE DRAW?

Like football matches throughout much of Europe, the draw will now take place behind closed doors with only key personnel present.

That means no club chiefs or legendary former players watching on, so don't expect to see any grins - or grimaces - as the balls are drawn.

WHO CAN STILL QUALIFY?

Although the draw is on Thursday, there are still a number of teams fighting to make it into the lucrative group stage.

Across Tuesday and Wednesday night, six play-off second legs will take place to decide the final six teams who will mix it with Bayern Munich and Co.

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Slavia Prague, Red Bull Salzburg, Olympiacos, Krasnodar, PAOK, Dynamo Kiev, Gent, Ferencvaros, Molde, Midtjylland, Omonia and Maccabi Tel Aviv are still in the mix.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PLAY-OFFS - HOW THE TIES STAND AHEAD OF THE SECOND LEGS...

Dynamo Kiev vs Gent (Agg 2-1)

Ferencvaros vs Molde (Agg 3-3)

Omonia vs Olympiacos (Agg 0-2)

Midtjylland vs Slavia Prague (Agg 0-0)

Salzburg vs Maccabi Tel-Aviv (Agg 2-1)

PAOK Salonika vs Krasnodar (Agg 1-2)

a football player on a field: Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg are one of 12 teams still hoping to make it to the group stage © Provided by Daily Mail Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg are one of 12 teams still hoping to make it to the group stage

WHO'S ALREADY IN?

Pot one: Bayern Munich, Sevilla, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Zenit Saint Petersburg, Porto

Pot two: Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Ajax

Pot three or four: RB Leipzig, Inter Milan, Lazio, Atalanta, Lokomotiv Moscow, Marseille, Club Brugge, Borussia Monchengladbach, Istanbul Basaksehir, Rennes, plus play-off winners

a group of men playing a game of football: Cristiano Ronaldo and his Juventus team-mates are in pot one after winning Serie A last term © Provided by Daily Mail Cristiano Ronaldo and his Juventus team-mates are in pot one after winning Serie A last term

HOW DOES THE DRAW WORK?

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Pot one consists of the holders (Bayern Munich), the Europa League winners (Sevilla) and the champions from the six-highest ranked countries. Pots two, three and four are determined by club coefficient rankings.

No team can be drawn against another from the same country, with each group being made up of one side from each pot.

WHO CAN THE PREMIER LEAGUE TEAMS GET?

Liverpool are in pot one but could still face the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid - who knocked them out last season - or Borussia Dortmund in the group stage.

Manchester City, United and Chelsea are certain to get one of the big boys from pot one, but will be hoping for Porto or Zenit over Bayern, Real Madrid, Juventus or PSG.

There are also dangerous teams lurking in pots three and four, with the likes of Inter Milan, RB Leipzig and Atalanta potentially throwing up a group of death scenario.

a group of men playing a game of football: Manchester United are back in the Champions League and could face Bayern or Real Madrid © Provided by Daily Mail Manchester United are back in the Champions League and could face Bayern or Real Madrid

HOW WILL COVID-19 AFFECT TEAMS?

The deadline for completing group matches in the Champions League and Europa League has been extended to the end of January as UEFA try to Covid-proof both competitions.

Clubs have been told that — as an ‘absolute last resort’ — they can play fixtures up to January 28, well beyond the usual December finishing point.

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Matches may be played at neutral venues, should Government rules prevent one of the sides travelling.

If all group matches cannot be completed by January 28, UEFA’s executive committee will decide which clubs qualify for the Champions League round of 16 and the Europa League round of 32.

Some countries hold exemptions allowing for visits from elite athletes, but others do not.

Should the visiting club be banned from travelling to their opponents’ country, it would fall on their hosts to come up with an alternative venue.

a person wearing a costume: PSG striker Kylian Mbappe wears a mask to protect himself from coronavirus back in June © Provided by Daily Mail PSG striker Kylian Mbappe wears a mask to protect himself from coronavirus back in June

The home club would have to pick up the costs of the switch. If they cannot find a different venue and fail to fulfil the match, they will automatically be deemed to have lost the game 3-0.

If the visiting club is barred from travelling by its own government, the home club will be asked to find a new venue.

If they fail to do so, UEFA will step in and decide where the game will be played.

Any club refusing to play will be deemed to have forfeited the match, again by a score of 3-0.

Borussia Dortmund chief Michael Zorc has expressed concerns about travelling to countries where the infection rate is high.

'Really, we are still missing the legal requirements to be able to play these games at all,' Zorc told the Frankfurter Allgemeine.

'If we play in a high-risk area on the Wednesday, which will probably be the case in more than half of the major cities involved, then there needs to be some foundations in place so that we can play in the Bundesliga again on Saturday.'

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Michael Zorc wearing a blue shirt: Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc is concerned about travelling abroad © Provided by Daily Mail Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc is concerned about travelling abroad

WHEN WILL THE COMPETITION KICK-OFF?

Group stage

Matchday 1: October 20/21

Matchday 2: October 27/28

Matchday 3: November 3/4

Matchday 4: November 24/25

Matchday 5: December 1/2

Matchday 6: December 8/9

Round of 16

First legs: February 16/17/23/24

Second legs: March 9/10/16/17

Quarter-finals

First legs: April: 6/7

Second legs: April 13/14

Semi-finals

First legs: April 27/28

Second legs: May 4/5

Final

May 29, Atatruk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul

Read more

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How to watch the 2020 Giro d'Italia - TV, live stream from anywhere .
Not in a broadcast zone? Never fear, we have your solution hereAll of the rose-coloured glory of the Grande Partenza has been shifted from Budapest to Sicily amid the uncertainty, making for an almost entirely Italian percorso that stretches from the Mediterranean to the Alps as the autumn leaves begin to fall.

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