When is the Champions League group stage draw?

The likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona will find out their opponents in the first stage of the competition proper on Thursday. Check out Goal’s guide!

The Champions League group stages are looming ever larger on the horizon, with Europe’s top clubs set to find out their group stage opponents on Thursday.

With the qualifiers safely negotiated for the likes of Manchester United, Malmo and Valencia, we now know the identity of the 32 teams who will complete this season’s competition.

Ahead of the draw, Goal has put together this handy guide for all of your European needs!


The draw will take place on August 27 at 5.45pm UK time. It will be made in Monaco.


As champions of England, Chelsea will be in Pot 1, meaning they will avoid fellow 2014-15 title winners, though they may still be drawn against the likes of Real Madrid or Atletico.

Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City, meanwhile, go into Pot 2, despite Louis van Gaal’s men having to overcome Club Brugge to qualify for the group stages.

As such, all three sides are guaranteed to face a champion of a European league in the groups this season, with the teams ranging from Bayern Munich and Barcelona to PSV.

Full Pots
Pot 1: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Benfica, PSG, Juventus, Zenit St Petersburg, PSV

Pot 2: Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Porto, Arsenal, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen, Manchester City

Pot 3: Shakhtar Donetsk, Sevilla, Lyon, Dynamo Kiev, Olympiacos, CSKA Moscow, Galatasaray, Roma

Pot 4: Astana, Bate Borisov, Borussia Monchengladbach, Wolfsburg, Dinamo Zagreb, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Gent, Malmo


The group stages begins on September 15, with the last matchday coming on December 9.

Vidal: Big transfer fees put too much pressure on players

The midfielder admitted the transfer fees that clubs pay for players are astronomical and is looking forward to facing his first team, Bayer Leverkusen, on Saturday

Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal says the fees clubs are paying for players are far too big, claiming some would have to score “three or four goals every game” to justify the costs.

The Copa America winner himself moved to Allianz Arena from Turin for a large fee in the region of €40 million in July.

And the 28-year-old has admitted that few players are worth the bloated transfer fees paid out in the modern game, claiming it heaps enormous pressure on them.

“These transfer figures today are abnormal,” the midfielder told Radio ADN. “A player would have to score three or four goals every game to cost so much.

“In my view, players should cost less.”

This Saturday, Vidal comes head-to-head with his old side Bayer Leverkusen and he expressed his gratitude to them for bringing him to Europe from Colo Colo.

“It’s a special match because Leverkusen were the first to give me the chance to play in Europe,” he concluded.

“But I hope to play well to ensure Bayern are crowned champions at the end of the season.”

Vidal has already made two starts for Die Roten this season in a 5-0 rout of Hamburg and a 2-1 win at Hoffenheim, with his side looking for a record-breaking fourth title in a row at the end of the campaign.

Pep Guardiola’s men are presently second in the table, sitting behind a resurgent Borussia Dortmund on goal difference.

Thiago: Sleep was my only escape from injury agony

The Bayern Munich midfielder has revealed the extent of his physical and mental anguish during his year out of the game following knee surgery

Bayern Munich ace Thiago Alacantara says that his life is now “back to normal” after a year which sleep was the only escape from his injury agony.

The Spain international suffered knee ligament damage in training last October, forcing him to undergo surgery for the second time in the space of seven months.

However, Thiago made his return to competitive action in Bayern’s Bundesliga opener against Hamburg on August 14 and is now looking forward to kick-starting a career that has thus far been repeatedly interrupted by injuries.

“I have achieved the goal I had for a year,” the midfielder wrote on his Facebook page. “My life is back to normal.

“I’m happy; this was the challenge I had to meet. Now I’m starting again from zero.”

“Sleep was the only thing that comforted me. I spent all day with my hand on my knee.

“Even going to bed bothered me because the simple act of moving the sheets reminded me of the knee.

“Only when I started to sleep was I at peace.”

Thiago also heaped praise on Dr. Ramon Cugat, who performed the operation on his knee.

“He’s not just the best orthopaedic surgeon in the world but also the best psychologist,” the former Barcelona man added.

“He spent hours with me – even on a Sunday – to see not only how my knee was, but also my head.

“He did a fantastic job. He believed in my recovery at all times.”

Boateng: Bayern still bitter over Champions League beatings by Real & Barcelona

The Germany international has confessed that Pep Guardiola’s men are still hurting after losing in the last four for the past two years

GOAL EXCLUSIVE   By Christoph Kockeis

Jerome Boateng has admitted that he and his Bayern Munich team-mates remain bitterly disappointed by the manner of their Champions League exits over the past two seasons.

With Jupp Heynckes at the helm, the Bavarians swept all before them in 2013, winning the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal before completing a historic treble by defeating Borussia Dortmund in an all-German European Cup final at Wembley.

However, Bayern’s defence of their continental crown was ended in embarrassing fashion, with Pep Guardiola’s men losing 5-0 on aggregate to eventual winners Real Madrid in the 2013-14 Champions League.

Further last-four followed last season, with the Bavarians losing 5-3 on aggregate to Barcelona, who humiliated Bayern – and Boateng in particular – during a 3-0 first-leg triumph at Camp Nou.

Consequently, Boateng, who suffered horribly at the mesmerising feet of Lionel Messi, says that the German titleholders are desperate to make amends this time around.

“We’re in the Champions League semi-finals almost every year,” the centre-half told Goal ahead of Thursday’s group-stage draw in Monaco. “But the way in which we have gone out was bitter.

“So, our goal is to get back in the final this season.

“The most important title for us is the Bundesliga but the Champions League is something special; a trophy that everyone wants to win.

“But there are other top teams in the Champions League of a very high level.

“So we will have to fight against them.”

Despite having won three successive Bundesligas, wrapping up last season’s title in record-breaking time, Boateng is expecting Bayern will have a tougher time of it this season.

“I think that Borussia Dortmund will be very strong,” the centre-half added. “Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen too.

“We’ll also have to see how Schalke and Borussia Monchengladbach will develop over the season.”

Despite being beaten on penalties by Wolfsburg in the DFL-Supercup, Bayern have kicked off their Bundesliga campaign in fine style, routing Hamburg 5-0 on the opening weekend before triumphing 2-1 at Hoffenheim at the weekend.

However, it is free-scoring Borussia Dortmund who top the table after racking up eight unanswered goals in their wins over Borussia Monchengladbach and Ingolstadt.

Muller is priceless for Bayern – Lahm

The forward continues to be linked with Manchester United, but the Bundesliga champions’ captain has underlined his importance to the club

Philipp Lahm  says  Thomas Muller  is priceless for Bayern Munich amid ongoing speculation linking him with a move to  Manchester United .

Reports in Germany over the weekend claimed United had tabled an €85 million bid for the Germany international as they look to secure a marquee signing before the end of the transfer window.

Lahm, however, has underlined Muller’s importance to Bayern and does not believe the 25-year-old will be moved on.

“Thomas is one of those role models who you can’t attach a price-tag to. He lives for Bayern, he is a very, very important player for us,” Lahm told Munchner Mekur.

Bayern have already allowed Bastian Schweinsteiger to move to Old Trafford this summer, prompting further accusations that Pep Guardiola is changing the club’s core idendity, following the departure of Toni Kroos in 2014 and the signing of Brazilian Douglas Costa.

“There shouldn’t be a concern about Bayern’s identity,” Lahm stressed. “Look at the team: Thomas Muller, Holger Badstuber, David Alaba, me – all from the youth team.

“We have Manuel Neuer, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, who have been here so long that their hearts practically beat red.”

Lahm was also keen to stress that Bayern’s Bundesliga title defence will not be easy this term, despite them walking to the championship in each of the last two years.

“I’ve always said there are four or five teams who can compete for the title. Dortmund are one of them. This is not, in my view, just a Bayern hunt,” he said.

Finally, the 2014 World Cup winner – who retired from international football after Germany’s success in Brazil – has reiterated that he will not return to Joachim Low’s set-up, although he did back an uncapped Bayern team-mate as an alternative.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I stick with my decisions. I don’t regret it, it was well thought through. I had a wonderful time, but there’s no way back for me,” explained the 31-year-old.

“Rafinha is a great guy, he has huge class, he’s been playing at the highest level – why shouldn’t he be an option for Low?”