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PSG, Ajax, Roma?

FCB await Champions League draw

Here we go again! The new Champions League campaign is about to start, 93 days after the all-Madrid final. The top 32 European clubs will all be on the edge of their seats on Thursday evening for the group stage draw in Monaco. FC Bayern are in the premier European club competition for the eighteenth time and are an established member of the top eight clubs in pot 1.

That means FC Bayern will avoid the big guns including holders Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea who are also in pot 1 alongside Benfica, Atlético Madrid and FC Porto. However, Pep Guardiola and his players could still find themselves in a tricky group. Juventus, Paris St. Germain, Zenit St. Petersburg, FC Basel and Manchester City, with former FCB stalwart Martin Demichelis in central defence, are in pot 2 and are potential opponents for FC Bayern.

Pot 3 also has more than capable teams such as Liverpool who narrowly finished second in the Premier League last term. The Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam, Sporting Lisbon, Galatasaray (including Hamit Altintop), Athletic Bilbao and Olympiakos Piraeus are also potential opponents. A reunion with last season’s group opponents CSKA Moscow is also possible.

There are no also-rans for FCB in pot 4 either. The outstanding clubs are, without doubt, the Italian runners-up AS Roma and their French counterparts AS Monaco. BATE Borisov played FC Bayern back in 2012 when the Reds lost 3-1 in Belarus. So-called underdogs such as NK Maribor or APOEL Nicosia could also provide a tough hurdle for Pep Guardiola's team.

The 32 clubs in the draw are split into four pots according to their UEFA coefficients based on results on the pitch over the past five years. One team is drawn from each pot for each group. Clubs from the same association cannot play each other so FCB cannot meet Schalke 04, Borussia Dortmund (both in pot 2) and Bayer Leverkusen (pot 3) in the preliminary round. The group stage starts on 16/17 September and the final at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin is on 6 June 2015.