Old foes Chelsea and Leverkusen combine with new rivals in Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain in the group stage lottery.
It’s almost Champions League draw time!
On Thursday evening, Atlético Madrid will find out their three group stage opponents in the 32-team competition. It’s always an exciting — if slightly nervy — time for fans, even as Atlético prepare for their seventh consecutive Champions League appearance.
It’s of course preferential to avoid a “Group of Death,” but Los Rojiblancos should have similar odds to draw any team from Pot 1 outside of Barcelona. Unfortunately, Liverpool and Manchester City — two teams Atlético may want to avoid the most — are among the three likeliest for it to draw. Playing the percentages, Paris Saint-Germain are one of the least likely teams for Atleti to draw — despite their injuries, they too are a side to avoid.
We’ve simulated the 2019-20 #UCLdraw for the group stage, assuming Ajax make it through, for 50 million times, and here are the probabilities for the matches between the teams in pot 1 and the ones in pot 2.
On the other side, Atlético would not mind facing Chelsea or Zenit. The London-based side are the third-most likely team for the mattress makers to draw, and the two teams have a somewhat-extensive history on and off the pitch. As for Zenit, trips east have troubled Atleti in past years — 0-0 draws at Astana and Qarabag are all the proof you need. This may not be an issue with the depth of this season’s squad, but it is something to keep an eye on.
The above selection does not include Pot 3 or Pot 4 teams, but of those squads, Bayer Leverkusen, Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig are all potential opponents (Leipzig probably ranking as the most dangerous). The more defensive the team — likely one from Pot 4 — the more difficult it may be for Atlético to take maximum points, given the reputation forged from games like those against Astana and Qarabag.
As stated before, Diego Simeone has a pretty deep team at his disposal after solid recruitment in this transfer window. That gives Atleti an advantage over a lot of Pot 2 teams and brings them closer to the Pot 1 group. Still, they will want the best draw possible as the fight across four competitions begins.
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How to watch the Champions League group stage draw
Date: Aug. 29, 2019
Location: Grimaldi Forum, Monaco
Time: 6:00 p.m. CET, 5:00 p.m. GMT, 12:00 p.m. EST, 9:00 a.m. PST