Spain’s qualified teams Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia and Villarreal await this afternoon’s Champions League group stage draw in Monaco with anticipation, as some interesting possible combinations could play out.
Defending champions Barcelona and nine times winners Real are in Pot one and face the prospect of a tough qualifying draw, with Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, Milan and CSKA Moscow stand-out names in Pot two. Manchester City, Zenit St Petersburg and French League and Cup winners Lille sit in Pot three, whilst German champions Borussia Dortmund surprising only make Pot four, and represent a very strong lower-seeded candidate to avoid.
Valencia and Villarreal are in Pot two for the draw that takes place 4.45pm British time. All four Spanish sides could find themselves in very tough group stage draws. Barcelona are looking to make their third final in four years, and their fourth in seven. Real reached the semi-finals last season and Valencia the Last 16 whilst Sevilla were knocked out in the 2010-11 third qualifying round.
In going one step further than Sevilla this season, Villarreal President Fernando Roig spoke of the economic aspect to the competition as vital to his club, that is now guaranteed approximately €20m.
Manchester United, Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Porto, Inter
Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, Villarreal, Milan, Valencia, Marseille, CSKA Moscow, Benfica
Zenit St Petersburg, Manchester City, Olympiacos, Ajax, Bayer Leverkusen, BATE Borisov, Basel, Lille
Borussia Dortmund, Trabzonspor, Dinamo Zagreb, Napoli, APOEL, Genk, Otelul Galati, Viktoria Plzen