By virtue of winning the UEFA Champions League, Chelsea finds itself in Pot 1 of the 2021/22 group stage draw, which, in normal circumstances, wouldn’t be a cause for worry. Luckless as the Blues are, the latest draw comes after a season that saw seismic shifts in top European leagues, the consequences of which will be laid bare once the balls are drawn on August 26.
Paris Saint-Germain conceded the French title to Lille in 2020/21. In Spain, Atletico Madrid pipped both Barcelona and Real Madrid to the crown. Inter Milan ended Juventus’ hegemony over the Italian championship. Lastly, minnows Villarreal defeated mighty Manchester United in the Europa League final. The above statements are not just a mere recap of the events of the previous season but results that directly influence the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League group stage draw. All of the victors are in Pot 1 alongside Chelsea, bumping most of the heavyweights into Pot 2.
What exactly are ‘Pots’?
In simple terms, they are exactly as the word suggests, pots. In those pots are balls representing all 32 participants of that edition of the Champions League. Pot 1 consists of league winners from the top six European football associations (England, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain), plus the Champions League and the Europa League winners. For the remaining three pots, teams are ranked as per their UEFA club coefficient and placed accordingly, meaning the eight best-ranked teams out of the 24 remaining go into Pot 2. The same is repeated for Pot 3 and Pot 4. With that answered, here’s what the pots look like ahead of the draw:
Chelsea, Villarreal, Atletico Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Lille, Sporting Club
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund
Porto, Benfica, Ajax, Zenit Saint Petersburg, RB Leipzig, Atalanta, Shakhtar Donetsk
RB Salzburg, Sheriff Tiraspol, Besiktas, Dynamo Kyiv, Young Boys, Club Brugge, AC Milan, Wolfsburg