The UEFA Champions League will feature 32 of Europe’s best vying for the biggest club prize in men’s football for the penultimate time, and with the qualifying playoffs completed as of Wednesday, the ground is set for Thursday’s draw (noon ET) in Istanbul, the venue of the final in June 2023.
In the Champions League Draw 2022-23, FC Copenhagen, Dinamo Zagreb, Rangers, Viktoria Plzen, Benfica, and Maccabi Haifa were the six beneficiaries of the play-in rounds to round out the ground, which will once again feature a slew of clubs vying to unseat 14-time European winner Real Madrid.
Which teams have the greatest chances to shine in the Champions League Draw 2022–23?
The pots are organized as follows by UEFA: Pot 1 includes the reigning Champions League and Europa League winners (Real Madrid, Eintracht Frankfurt) as well as the domestic title winners from the top six leagues in the region, as determined by the coefficient.
The remaining pots are set in club coefficient order (a formula that takes into account each club’s performance in UEFA competitions over the last five seasons), which limits the potential for true groups of death but does offer some intriguing possibilities.
However, the real fun begins Thursday, when the Pot 3 teams— including Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, and Napoli—are assigned.
Now let’s see who are sitting on which pot in Champions League Draw 2022-23.
Pot 1: Real Madrid (Spain), Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany), Manchester City (England), AC Milan (Italy), Bayern Munich (Germany), PSG (France), Porto (Portugal), Ajax (The Netherlands)
Pot 2: Liverpool (England), Chelsea (England), Barcelona (Spain), Juventus (Italy), Atlético Madrid (Spain), Sevilla (Spain), RB Leipzig (Germany), Tottenham (England)
Pot 3: Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Red Bull Salzburg (Austria), Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine), Inter Milan (Italy), Napoli (Italy), Benfica (Portugal), Sporting CP (Portugal), Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)
Pot 4: Rangers (Scotland), Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia), Marseille (France), Copenhagen (Denmark), Club Brugge (Belgium), Celtic (Scotland), Viktoria Plzeň (Czechia), Maccabi Haifa (Israel)
As is customary, clubs from the same league cannot be placed in the same group and with Russian clubs barred from competition due to their country’s invasion of Ukraine, the previous rule that separated Russian and Ukrainian clubs in the group stage is no longer in effect.
As of today, the competition includes one Ukrainian club, league-winning Shakhtar Donetsk (which was top of the table when the league was suspended last season due to the Russian invasion), with a second, Dynamo Kiev, falling in the playoffs and therefore, Shakhtar will play its group matches in Poland at Legia Warsaw’s home stadium.
Despite Liverpool’s current struggles, the Real Madrid-Liverpool-Inter-Marseille combination has the highest chances of death potential on paper, and it also features four previous competition winners as Real Madrid has fourteen, Liverpool has six, Inter has three, and Marseille has one title, for a total of 24 European titles in one potential group (substitute Celtic for Marseille, and it’s the same, though Marseille’s title came before the Champions League era).
A Bayern-Liverpool-Inter/Napoli-Marseille group has a similar effect, with four clubs from Europe’s top five leagues all capable of reaching the knockout stage in the 2022-23 UCL season.
Another speculation indicates the presence of the famous Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti, who is the most embellished manager in Champions League history, having won his fourth title last season, and his knowledge across Europe’s top tier signifies he may run into some of his former employers and his resume also indicates that he has avoided all Pot 4 candidates in this season’s tournament.
Despite the absence of Ancelotti’s former club Everton in the UCL, English champion Manchester City cannot be paired with Liverpool, Chelsea, or Tottenham, limiting its true death options. City are expected to easily win their group, which includes pot two sides Barcelona, Juventus, Atlético Madrid, Sevilla, and Leipzig.