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Barça sneak into Pot 1 for Champions League draw

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Published in Soccer
Sunday, 26 May 2024 13:52

Barcelona will be in Pot 1 for the 2024-25 UEFA Champions League group stage draw after it was confirmed that AS Roma would not be in the competition.

Atalanta needed to finish fifth in Serie A for a place in the Champions League to pass down to Roma in sixth, but Atalanta's 3-0 win at home to Torino on Sunday secured a top-four place. Roma will take up a place in the Europa League.

If Atalanta had finished fifth, they would have qualified for the Champions League as Europa League titleholders, with the extra spot for Italy earned by their clubs' performance in Europe this season passed to sixth. Instead, that additional place will go to the team that did finish fifth, Bologna.

Barcelona would also have been overtaken for a place in Pot 1 by Bayer Leverkusen had the Bundesliga side avoided defeat in the Europa League final, but they lost 3-0 to Atalanta.

As Atalanta won't be using the titleholders' place, Benfica are promoted direct into the empty spot in the group stage as the club with the best coefficient of those in qualifying. If Real Madrid win the Champions League, Shakhtar Donetsk will also not have to qualify.

Under the new format which begins next season, only the Champions League holders are assured of a place in Pot 1, with all other places ordered by coefficient. However, with each team being drawn against two clubs from the four pots to create eight fixtures, the seeding of the pots now has limited relevance -- the teams in Pot 1 are not prevented from playing each other.

- New Champions League format explained

The Champions League is being expanded from 32 to 36 teams, with all placed in one league table. Eight matches will be played, four at home and four away. Teams from the same country should be kept apart, although leagues with 4+ teams may have to play one other from the same association if there's deadlocking in the draw.

As this new system throws up so many alternatives, the majority of the draw will be completed by a computer. A team will be drawn from Pot 1 in traditional style, and then the process of selecting that club's opponents will be performed automatically.

The top eight go straight through to the round of 16, positions eight to 24 play in a two-legged knockout playoff round, and those placed 25th to 36th are eliminated. There is no longer any dropdown into the Europa League.

The draw for the group stage takes place on Thursday, Aug. 29.

POT 1

Manchester City
Bayern Munich
Real Madrid
Paris Saint-Germain
Liverpool
Internazionale
Borussia Dortmund
RB Leipzig
Barcelona

POT 2

Bayer Leverkusen
Atlético Madrid
Juventus
Atalanta
Benfica
Arsenal
Club Brugge (*subject to securing the Belgian title on Sunday)
Rangers (must come through qualifying)
Shakhtar Donetsk (must come through qualifying)

Pot 4 is the likely destination for Celtic, AS Monaco, Aston Villa, Bologna, Girona and Brest.

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