x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Man City could face a tough introduction to Champions League

Roberto Mancini's side are among the group of third seeds in the draw in Monaco — meaning the strongest sides in Europe outside of England are all potential opponents.

Roberto Mancini is not worried about making changes to his team for the Champions League.
Roberto Mancini is not worried about making changes to his team for the Champions League.

Arsenal will join the top seeds in the Champions League draw today following their victory over Udinese but Manchester City are likely to be handed a tough introduction to life in Europe's elite club competition.

Roberto Mancini's side are among the group of third seeds in the draw in Monaco — meaning the strongest sides in Europe outside of England are all potential opponents.

The other English clubs in the Champions League draw are all among the top seeds, alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Porto and Bayern Munich.

The worst-case scenario for City would be to be drawn into a group with reigning champions Barcelona and a tough second seed such as AC Milan or Lyon.

There is also the danger of drawing Borussia Dortmund as the fourth seed.  It was predicted that the withdrawal of Fenerbahce by the Turkish federation due to an ongoing match-fixing organisation meant the German champions move up to third seeds, but Uefa kept Borussia in pot four and has BATE, the Belorussian side as a third seed.

Turkish league runners-up Trabzonspor replace Fenerbahce — but remain among the fourth seeds.

For most of Europe it will be Manchester City who are the team to avoid, such is the size and strength of the squad that Mancini has assembled at vast expense.

Mancini has made it clear he intends to rotate his squad to ensure the side are capable of challenging in Europe and the three domestic competitions.

"[Rotating] is no problem for me," said Mancini. "The problem is if you don't have good players. For the manager it is not easy because all the players want to play every game.

"But when you play in four competitions and have a match every three days, there is space for everyone. It is impossible to play a top game every three days.

"And the Champions League is very hard. It is different from the Europa League. For this we need a good team, with good players and a good mentality."

Uefa's rules for the draw will see the 32 qualified teams allocated into eight groups of four teams. Each group will contain a top seed, plus one club each from the second, third and fourth pots.

Each pot is determined by a club's Uefa ranking and the top two in each group will go through to the knock-out phase of the Champions League, and the third-place side to the knock-out phase of the Europa League.

Likely pots for the Champions League draw

Pot one: Man Utd, Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Porto, Inter Milan.

Pot two: Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, Villarreal, AC Milan, Valencia, Marseille, CSKA Moscow, Benfica.

Pot three: Zenit St Petersburg, Man City, Olympiakos, Ajax, Bayer Leverkusen, Basle, Lille, BATE.

Pot four: Borussia Dortmund, Dinamo Zagreb, Napoli, APOEL, Genk, Trabzonspor, Otelul Galati, Viktoria Plzen.