MUNICH, GERMANY - MAY 19: The trophy on display ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final between FC Bayern Muenchen and Chelsea at the Fussball Arena München on May 19, 2012 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
The UEFA Champions League is ready for the group stage and that round begins with the draw, which will take place on Thursday in Monaco.
With the completion of the 10 two-legged playoff round ties this week, the field of 32 for the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League group stage is set. Now that the teams for the group stage have been sorted out, it is time to put them into groups.
Cue an oversized stage in Monaco, odd performances that nobody wants to see and close ups of old men jotting down the groups as if computers and the internet don't exist because if they don't write the groups immediately then they will never be able to get them. It's time for the Champions League draw!
The teams have been ranked by UEFA Coefficient with the top eight teams going into Pot One, the next eight into Pot Two and so on. Teams cannot be drawn into a group with another team from their country, but that aside, it is a free draw. Whatever balls are drawn out of the glass bowls will determine where the teams land for the group stage of the world's preeminent club competition.
(Pro tip: Mouseover the team names)
There are four teams that especially stand out in those pots. Manchester City in Pot Two, PSG and Juventus in Pot Three and Borussia Dortmund in Pot Four are all way too good for their pots, which means some teams from Pot One are going to get stuck with one, or several of those four teams.
Consider that a group of Barcelona, Manchester City, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund is possible. And so is Milan, Braga, Anderlecht and Nosejaelland. These pots are tremendous.
The Champions League group stage gets underway on September 18 and will run through December 5. The knockout stages will be played in 2013 and the final will be on May 25 at Wembley Stadium in London, England.