The road to Wembley Stadium for the 2013 UEFA Champions League final begins with today's group stage draw, at least for some teams. 10 of the teams have already played in the competition, coming through the qualification and/or playoff rounds to make the group stage, but for the 22 others, the draw is their first introduction to this season's competition.
The draw, like all draws, is sure to be overly dramatic and way too long. There will be a bunch of videos, speeches, reminiscing about past tournaments and fawning about the history of Wembley. By the time that they actually get around to picking balls from a glass bowl, 84% of viewers* will already be bored.
* This statistic is brought to you by the Foundation For Made Up But Probably True Statistics.
But while the draw is not nearly the spectacle and entertainment that UEFA would like you to believe, it is still important. It is very, very important.
Could Manchester City have made a deep run last year and completely changed the competition had they not been drawn into a group with Bayern Munich and Napoli? You bet. And that is hardly the only time a tough group completely changed a competition and easy groups can do the same thing.
This year, City will once again end up in the tough group by virtue of being in Pot Two, which means they have to be grouped with one of the competition's top teams. Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are both in Pot Three, making that a potential Group of Death and Borussia Dortmund can do the same from Pot Four.
The draw itself isn't really that cool. It's just UEFA trying to draw things out and then guys picking balls out of a glass bowl, but it matters. Just ask City, or any one of the Pot One teams that will be furious when the Citizens, PSG or some other tough team is drawn into their group.
UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw
Draw Date/Time: Thursday, August 30 / 11:45 a.m. ET, 5:45 p.m. local
Venue: Grimaldi Forum, Monaco
TV: Fox Soccer
Streaming: Fox Soccer 2Go