1 p.m. ET: Here’s another look at the full 2016-17 Champions League group-stage draw.
Groups D and C vie for the exalted “Group of Death” tag.
We’re going to give the label to Group D, as Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid have hopes of winning the competition, while PSV is assembling a squad that it believes is capable of advancing to the knockout phase. That certainly was the case for PSV before the draw, but the Dutch team is more likely to play UEFA Europa League soccer in 2017.
Manchester City and Barcelona shouldn’t have too much trouble with Monchengladbach and Celtic.
Group A looks straight-forward with Arsenal and PSG advancing, although not necessarily in that order.
Group B is wide open. Benfica and Napoli have the highest pedigree in the group, but Dynamo Kiev and Besiktas probably are optimistic about their chances.
Group E also is up for graps. Tottenham won’t have this good a chance to win its group and position itself for a deep run for many years to come. Leverkusen also can expect to progress if Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez recovers the form he displayed in his first season with the German club. However, Monaco and CSKA won’t be in awe of Tottenham or Leverkusen when they meet.
Real Madrid is likely to win Group F easily. Dortmund will offer the most resistence, but its youthful squad won’t be able to match the defending champions over 180 minutes.
Dortmund will advance if it maintains its consistency against Sporting and Legia. Sporting could sneak through if Dortmund falters.
Leicester City barely could be happier with its maiden Champions League draw. Porto represents its stiffest test in Group G and could edge the Foxes for the top spot. But Brugge and Copenhagen aren’t likely to keep Leicester City out of the knockout phase.
Juventus is the big power in Group H. Sevilla and Lyon probably will battle for second place.
Lyon could return to the knockout rounds by capitalizing on the coaching change that took place in the offseason at Sevilla.
That’s all for now, and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion coming up on NESN.com/soccer.
12:45 p.m.: Tottenham has to be happy with landing in Group E. Spurs challenged for last season’s Premier League title, eventually finishing third. Tottenham will like its chances of finishing ahead of both CSKA Moscow and Bayer Leverkusen — two teams that have much Champions League experience — due to its deep and talented squad.
PSV will be disappointed with its draw. The Dutch power has fallen into Group D with Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich, two teams that reached the semifinals of last season’s competition.
12:35 p.m.: Halfway through the draw, exciting matchups already exist.
Starting in Group A, Arsenal-PSG will be must-see television, as will Barcelona-Manchester City, Bayern Munich-Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid-Borussia Dortmund.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will bring his new team back to Barcelona — the side with which he began an an unprecedented period of personal and collective success.
The tension of the draw will only increase from here, as other sides join the big names in knowing their potential European fates.
12:25 p.m.: The champions of Europe’s biggest leagues have been seperated into eight pots. Draw rules prevent teams from the same country from competing in the same groups, so things should become quite interesting from this point.
12:15 p.m.: Here we go. UEFA will draw the 32 clubs into groups of four teams.
Group A: Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, FC Basel, Ludogorets
Group B: Benfica, Napoli, Dynamo Kiev, Besiktas
Group C: FC Barcelona, Manchester City, Borussia Monchengladbach, Celtic FC
Group D: Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, PSV, FC Rostov
Group E: CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham, AS Monaco
Group F: Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Sporting CP (Lisbon), Legia (Warsaw)
Group G: Leicester City, Porto, Club Brugge, Copenhagen
Group H: Juventus, Sevilla, Lyon, Dinamo Zagreb
12:10 p.m.: It wouldn’t be a UEFA ceremony without the requisite pomp and circumstance.
Noon, ET: The 2016-17 UEFA Champions League promises to deliver world-class soccer to fans around the world.
Over the next nine-plus months, Europe’s 32 best clubs will compete for the European Cup, the most prestigious trophy in club soccer.
Real Madrid is the reigning Champions League winner, and the Spanish giant is keen to become the first team to retain its European crown under the competition’s current format. Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid lead the list of contenders, but the entire field can dream of glory at this point in the season.
UEFA will conduct the draw for the group stage Thursday, with the ceremony set to begin at noon in Monte Carlo. Join us right here for the Champions League group-stage draw and reaction.
Champions League Schedule
Sept. 13 and 14: Group stage, matchday one
Sept. 27 and 28: Group stage, matchday two
Oct. 18 and 19: Group stage, matchday three
Nov. 1 and 2: Group stage, matchday four
Nov. 22 and 23: Group stage, matchday five
Dec. 6 and 7: Group stage, matchday six
Dec. 12: Round of 16 draw
Feb. 14 and 15 and Feb. 21 and 22: Round of 16, first leg
March 7 and 8 and March 14 and 15: Round of 16, second leg
March 17: Quarterfinal draw
April 11 and 12: Quarterfinals, first leg
April 18 and 19: Quarterfinals, second leg
April 21: Semifinal draw
May 2 and 3: Semifinals, first leg
May 9 and 10: Semifinals, second leg
June 3: Final (at National Stadium of Wales, Cardiff)
Thumbnail photo via Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport/USA TODAY Sports Images
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