Ronaldo could face Man United and more Champions League draw permutations

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Ronaldo could return to Manchester United in the Champions League group stage.

Europe’s leading lights are set to find out who they will play in the Champions League group stage on Thursday, with the draw set to take place at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco (8pm UAE time).

Former AC Milan and Real Madrid star Kaka, who announced his retirement from football last year, is set to conduct the draw.

Wednesday saw the last round of qualifiers for the group stages completed, with Benfica, AEK Athens, Ajax, Red Star Belgrade, PSV Eindhoven, and BSC Young Boys joining the teams who had qualified directly for the group stages.

Last year’s winners, Real Madrid, and Europa League champions Atletico Madrid took their place in Pot 1 alongside the league champions of the six top-ranked nations in UEFA’s ranking coefficient, with the other teams being seeded based on their historical coefficient.

Teams from the same country cannot be drawn against each other.

Here’s a look at the possible draw scenarios.

POT 1: Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Juventus, PSG, Lokomotiv Moscow

POT 2: Tottenham, Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Roma, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica

POT 3: Liverpool, Schalke, Lyon, Monaco, CSKA Moscow, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Valencia

POT 4: Hoffenheim, Inter Milan, Galatasaray, Club Brugge, Viktoria Plzen, BSC Young Boys, AEK Athens, Red Star Belgrade

Benfica securing qualification for the group stages meant Liverpool were knocked down to Pot 3, a turn of events that will have pleased none of the teams in Pot 1 (barring Manchester City) nor Liverpool themselves who now will face a European giant.

Given that Pot 2 is also full of such strong teams, whichever group the Reds land in is likely to have two other big names. The Spanish teams in Pot 1 could have a particularly hard time of it, as they could play Jurgen Klopp’s men plus any of the non-English teams from Pot 2, with a rematch of last season’s final between Madrid and Liverpool a distinct possibility.

Old Trafford-bound: Cristiano Ronaldo?

Potential Group of Death scenarios also include Manchester United or Tottenham being drawn with either Bayern Munich or PSG, plus Valencia and Inter Milan – once managed by Jose Mourinho. Speaking of which, there’s also the possibility of the United manager facing another former club, Real Madrid, or ex-United star Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford with Juventus.

United could also be drawn with Red Star Belgrade, a tie that would be infused with history. This season marks the 60th anniversary of the Munich air disaster, when United’s team suffered a tragic plane crash while returning from a European Cup quarter-final tie against Red Star in 1958.

Elsewhere, Gareth Bale missed both of Madrid’s games against Tottenham in the group stages of last season through injury, preventing a return to the club where he was once a hero. However, the match-up could be repeated this season.

ROME, ITALY - APRIL 10: Lionel Messi and team mates look dejected after Roma's third goal the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between AS Roma and FC Barcelona at Stadio Olimpico on April 10, 2018 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

A re-match with Roma? The Stadio Olimpico was the scene of humiliation for Barca last term.

Meanwhile, Barcelona could face a return to the scene of their greatest humiliation of the 2017/18 campaign, with the possibility of being drawn alongside their quarter-final conquerors Roma.

The group stage will begin on September 18, and end on December 12, with the knockout stages beginning on February 12 and the final due to be played on June 1, at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

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Champions League group stage draw to take place in Monaco today

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European football's top clubs will vie for the trophy.

Premier League sides Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool are set to discover their Champions League group stage opponents.

The draw for the pool phase begins at 8pm UAE time on Thursday at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.

There are four pots of eight teams, with one team from each pot forming a group, although teams from the same association cannot face each other.

Premier League champions City, eliminated by Liverpool in the quarter-finals last term, are in pot one along with defending champions Real Madrid, Europa League winners Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Lokomotiv Moscow.

United and Spurs, who both exited at the last-16 stage in 2017-18, are in pot two, which also features Borussia Dortmund, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica, Napoli and Roma.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will be in pot three alongside Schalke, Lyon, Monaco, Ajax, CSKA Moscow, Valencia and PSV Eindhoven.

Qualification for the group stage was completed on Wednesday evening when Benfica beat Greek side PAOK Salonika, Dutch champions PSV overcame BATE Borisov, and Red Star Belgrade defeated Red Bull Salzburg on away goals.

Serbian champions Red Star, winners in 1991, will be in pot four with Viktoria Plzen, Club Brugge, Galatasaray, Young Boys, Inter Milan, Hoffenheim and AEK Athens.

Thursday’s ceremony will also see the winners of the UEFA Player Awards announced.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is on the shortlist for the men’s player of the year award, along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric.

Ronaldo – now with Juventus – and Modric were part of the Real Madrid side that beat Liverpool 3-1 in last season’s final in Kiev as the Spanish club won the competition for a third successive year.

The first round of Champions League group matches take place on September 18 and 19, with the final to be held at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on June 1.

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Mohamed Salah, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric up for award at Champions League draw

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Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool will learn their Champions League group-stage opponents in Monaco on Thursday.

The draw for the pool phase begins at 6pm at the Grimaldi Forum, with the ceremony also seeing the winners of the UEFA Player Awards being announced.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is on the shortlist for the men’s player of the year award, along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric.

Ronaldo – now with Juventus – and Modric were part of the Real Madrid side that beat Liverpool 3-1 in last season’s final in Kiev as Los Blancos won the competition for a third successive year.

The 2018-19 final will be held at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on June 1 next year.

Scottish champions Celtic miss out on Thursday’s draw having been knocked out by AEK Athens in the third qualifying round earlier this month.

There are four pots of eight teams, with one team from each pot forming a group, although teams from the same association cannot face each other.

Premier League champions City, eliminated by Liverpool in the quarter-finals last term, are in pot one along with Real, Europa League winners Atletico, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Paris St Germain and Lokomotiv Moscow.

United and Spurs, who both exited at the last-16 stage in 2017-18, are in pot two, which also features Borussia Dortmund, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Napoli and Roma, with one more team to join.

Liverpool will be either in that pot or pot three – which includes Schalke, Lyon, Monaco, Ajax and CSKA Moscow – depending on the outcome of Wednesday night’s final matches of the qualifying play-off round.

The first group matches take place on September 18 and 19.

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