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UEFA Champions League 21/22 draw as it happened: group stage pairings and reaction

Soccer Football - Champions League Group Stage Draw - Halic Congress Center, Istanbul, Turkey - August 26, 2021  General view of the Champions League Group Stage Draw REUTERS/Murad Sezer

UEFA Champions League 21/22 group stage draw

UEFA Champions League (2021/22) group stage draw

Group A: Man City, PSG, RB Leipzig, Club Brugge

Group B: At. Madrid, Liverpool. Porto, AC Milan

Group C: Sporting CP, Borussia Dortmund, Ajax, Besiktas

Group D: Inter, Real Madrid, Shakhtar, FC Sheriff

Group E: Bayern, Barcelona, Benfica, Dynamo Kyiv

Group F: Villarreal, Man United, Atalanta, Young Boys

Group G: Lille, Sevilla, Salzburg, Wolfsburg

Group H: Chelsea, Juventus, Zenit, Malmo

Sheriff boss Vernydub still dizzy about draw: "It's a fairytale"

FC Sheriff will be experiencing the Champions League for the first time and by a stroke of luck, were drawn against one of the competition's iconic clubs, 13-time winners Real Madrid. Two other big-name sides complete what will be a tough group for the Moldovan newcomers, Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk.

After securing their place in the group stage by beating Dinamo Zagreb in last night's play-offs, coach Yuriy Vernydub says things just keep getting better and better for Sheriff  "It's an interesting group with giants from Italy, Spain and Ukraine. I had a feeling that we would get Shakhtar - a team from my country. We will try to compete. I hope and believe in my players. We feel as though we are in a fairytale and we want it to last as long as possible".


Atlético excited about re-encounter with Liverpool

Tomás Reñones, the man in charge of Institutional Relations at Atlético Madrid gave his thoughts on the outcome of today's Champions League group stage draw which promises a new re-encounter with Liverpool. FC Porto and AC Milan complete a group comprising four of European football's classic sides and one of the most attractive groups in this season's tournament. And for extra spice, Luis Suárez will be facing his old club once again, this time with Atleti.

"It's an interesting draw, with great teams and champions - that's what the Champions League is all about," Reñones said. "It's the Champions League and in these draws you expect to find yourself up against giant clubs who have made their mark in the competition. It's a great motivation for us, we want to enjoy a great campaign. I think we are in a competition with the best teams - every time a ball was drawn [in our group], it was a very good club. Sometimes that motivates you more".

But Reñones didn't want to look any further than Atleti's hopes of getting through the group stage. "In our work, we take one day at a time - that's not to say we don't have aspirations, we do because we are Atlético, but the only thing we are looking ahead to is the next game, the Champions League is still a way off. We will see how the games pan out, for each matchday we will study our opponents and work on each game".



Begiristain: "Every year the Champions League gets harder"

Manchester City's sporting director Txiki Begiristain gave his thoughts on today's draw, which lumped Pep Guardiola's side in one of the toughest groups alongside Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig and Club Brugge.

Begiristain says City are aware of what they will be up against. "We have met PSG before (in May's semi-final) but they have improved every year and even more this summer with free signings, but it's unbelievable, the names and the quality of the players they have. The Champions League is becoming very difficult. I was with Pep and the staff and we were talking about how we celebrate any time that we go through and that's how it's becoming. Just looking at the groups - Porto, Atlético Madrid, Liverpool and Milan... just to get to the knockout round is going to be unbelievable. Some of the big names in football are going to be out. That is the magnitude of this competition".

Marcos Senna relishing United re-match

Marcos Senna says Villarreal are really looking forward to a new meeting with Manchester United who they beat to win the Europa League, the club's first major European trophy in May. Completing the group are Atalanta and Young Boys.

"Once again, we meet Manchester United. Curiously, we have met them five times in the past and drawn all of those games. We only managed to beat them on penalties. Hopefully this time there will be a winner and even better if it is us. We know each other well and there is respect between us but I think we are in for two very intense games. As for Atalanta, from what I have seen of them, they are a strong attacking side who score a lot of goals. Young Boys complete a group which we are hope to enjoy while taking it seriously and obviously, aiming to get to the next round. We could not be more excited or hopeful about being back in this competition for the first time in 10 years. The fans are excited too and we'll be doing everything we can to ensure they are happy and come along to support the team in these games".

Klopp reacts to the draw

Liverpool landed in Group B alongside Atlético Madrid, FC Porto, AC Milan - three rivals they know inside out after having met Atleti and Porto several times in recent editions and Milan twice in the final, in 2005 and 2007.

Jurgen Klopp admitted he chuckled when he found out who his side would be facing in the group stage. He told "I laughed, to be honest, pretty loud because it is a tough group obviously. It's Champions League, so that's how it is, and you have to play the best teams in Europe, and obviously some of them are in our group!  We played, I don't know how often, already against Porto, so they will be waiting for us. We have obviously a little bit of [an] open bill with Atletico, and AC Milan, a historical one obviously. So, I think our supporters should be looking forward to it – we do, for sure. 

"I know that people sit always at home and think, 'Ah come on, that would be cool, then you have this team together and the worst of pot four and the worst of pot one' and all this kind of stuff.  So, we didn't get that obviously but we're still pretty ambitious and would like to show the really hard work from last year, qualifying for the Champions League, that it was worth it. That's how we will play the games."

Away goals no longer count as double

Under the old rule, in the event of a draw, goals scored away from home counted as double but that led to a tendency for home sides to focus on avoiding conceding and, it was argued, gave the visiting team in the second leg an unfair advantage if the tie went to extra-time. From 2021/22, ties which end level after the second leg will go to extra-time then a penalty shoot-out if required, irrespective of the number of away goals a team has scored.

UEFA explained in a statement. “With the decision to remove this rule, ties in which the two teams score the same number of goals over the two legs would be not decided on the number of goals scored away, but two 15-minute periods of extra time are played at the end of the second leg and in case the teams score the same number of goals or no goals during this extra time, kicks from the penalty mark would determine the team which qualifies to the next stage of the competition”.

Champions League 2021/22 key dates

The group stage will commence on September with all 32 sides setting their sights on the 28 May (2022) final that will be staged in Saint Petersburg (Russia).

The draw for the Round of 16 will be staged on 13 December with the competition resuming on February 15.

The semi-finals will be staged on 26/27 April with the return legs on 3/4 May.

Nedved on Juve's group: "It's a balanced group"

The Serie A side have been pitted against holders Chelsea, Zenit and Malmo with Juventus VP Pavel Nedved sharing his views on the group stage draw.

2021/22 UEFA Champions League draw dates:

13 December 2021: Round of 16

18 March 2022: Quarter-finals & Semi-finals

Villarreal's prize for winning the Europa League

The Yellow Submarine will face Man United in a repeat of the Gdansk Europa League final and Emery's men will fancy their chances of progressing with Atalanta and Young Boys the other Group F sides.

Communique via UEFA

"Please note that the full fixture list (matchdays 1 to 6) will be available on Saturday, 28 August, 12.00 CET at the latest."

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Where will the 2022 UCL final take place?

The final will take place at the Saint Petersburg Stadium. The distinct venue on Krestovsky Island was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, whose vision was for a spaceship that had landed on the shores of the Gulf of Finland. It has been home to Zenit since 2017.

2021/22 UEFA Champions League key dates

Group stage

14/15 September 2021: Matchday 1

28/29 September 2021: Matchday 2

19/20 October 2021: Matchday 3

2/3 November 2021: Matchday 4

23/24 November 2021: Matchday 5

7/8 December 2021: Matchday 6

Knockout phase

15/16/22/23 February & 8/9/15/16 March 2022: Round of 16

5/6 & 12/13 April 2022: Quarter-finals

26/27 & 3/4 May 2022: Semi-finals

28 May 2022: Final

United fans content with UCL draw

The bulk of Manchester United supporters seemed content with their draw in Istanbul despite calls for Ole Gunnar Solskjær's head should the Red Devil's fail to advance to the Round of 16.

Sevilla president Castro on the UCL draw

Jose Castro claimed that his team will need to be at their best to advance in the Champions League after the Andalusian side were pitted with Lille, Wolfsburg and Salzburg.

Al-Khelaïfi at UEFA event on Mbappé

As the saga relating to the French striker continues, the CEO of the Parisian side speaking to RMC, claimed that the Ligue 1 sides postion was clear on the player.

Butragueño on the ropes over Mbappe question

The former player was in Istanbul tonight representing Real Madrid at the UCL draw. Normally a cool customer, the executive was clearly flustered and lost for words upon being asked if Mbappe would be playing for Real Madrid next season.

Video here

Mpabbé to Madrid?

Here's more details on that improved offer from the Spanish side....


The Ajax Amsterdam x Bob Marley 'Three Little Birds' inspired kit was voted kit of the season for 2021/22 by AS English.... an esteemed honor to be sure !!!

Full Top 10 here

We may get to see Ajax sport their new Bob Marley inspired thrid kit in the group stage !


Champions League odds post draw

Both PSG and Man City retain their pre-tournamnt favorites tag with holders Chelsea at 10/1.

The side from Lepzig find themselves in Group A with PSG, Cty and Brugge. The Bundesliga outfit will have their work cut out to progress against two of the tournament favourites in the same group.


Will Mbappe play in Group A with PSG or Group D with Real Madrid? The Spanish side have just made a renewed bid for the striker offering a further 10 million euro to the original 160 million offer.

For those wondering when the fixture list will be confirmed by UEFA for the Champions League group stage games, the governing body have stated that the task of assigning days and ko slots can only take place once the draws for both the Conference and Europa League groups have been completed. Those draws take place tomorrow at lunchtime (1300 CEST) and the kick-off times for all three competitions is expected to be released on Saturday at the latest.

Familiar faces

Inter, Shakhtar and Real Madrid all played in the 2020/21 group stage last season with Borussia MG this year replaced by Moldovan outfit FC Sheriff who take their place in the UCL group stage for the first time in their history, and indeed are the first side from Moldova to grace this stage of the competition.

Potential Messi-Ronaldo clash on the cards?

Should Cristiano Ronaldo make the switch from Turin to Manchester, the prospect of both players coming head to head albeit in unfamiliar shirts could materialize.

Latest on the possible CR7 move here

Chelsea fans happy with the draw and confident that the 'Blues' (and holders) can progress to the Round of 16

Group B being cited as the 'group of death' by Argentine outlet Ole. It certainly is a tough one to call with all four sides capable of progressing. Group C with Sporting, BVB, Ajax and Besiktas should be entertaining too with all four teams difficult to beat on their day.

Incredible night for FC Barcelona Femeni as the Catalan side scooped five player UEFA awards along with the coach of the year award for Lluis Cortes

As always each group throws up it's own story line and many groups appear to have clear favourites as is the case with the likes of group's A, D and H.

A reminder of the group stage matches

Group stage

14/15 September 2021: Matchday 1

28/29 September 2021: Matchday 2

19/20 October 2021: Matchday 3

2/3 November 2021: Matchday 4

23/24 November 2021: Matchday 5

7/8 December 2021: Matchday 6

That award concludes the ceremony from Istanbul. The fixture list will be confirmed at the latest on Saturday but stay with us and we'll bring you the latest in post draw reaction from across the continent.


Chelsea and Italy player Jorginho wins the men's award


Final awards now with both men's and women's awards on the line: The women's award goes to Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)

Tuchel (Chelsea) is awarded the Men's Champions League coach of the season

Final award time and Lluis Cortes wins the Coach of the Year after his Champions League win with FC Barcelona.

Group A jumps out as an interesting one but it's Group B that strikes us as the most competitive and open with Atleti, Liverpool, Porto and Milan.

The next side to be drawn is Malmo and the Swedish side will play in Group H which sees D.Kyiv off to Group E and that leaves FC Sheriff who head to Group D.

The third side from the final pot is AC Milan and the Serie A giants are off to Group B with Atleti, Liverpool and Porto. Wolfsburg head to Group G. The next side out is Club Brugge with the Belgian men off to Group A

The first name out from the final pot is ....Young Boys from Switzerland and they head to Group F. The next name out of the bowl is Besiktas with the Istanbul side off to Group C.

Final pot time with the fourth pot set to be drawn... New comers FC Sheriff and AC Milan in this final pot

Award time with the Champions League Forward's of the season being: Jenni Hermoso (FC Barcelona). The men's award goes to Haaland from Dortmund.

Salzburg are heading to Group G with Sevilla and Lille. FC Porto are off to Group B with Atleti and Liverppol as Ajax head to Grouo C with Sporting and BVB

Next side out is RB Leipzig and the German outfit head to Group A with City and PSG. The next name out of the bowl is Atalanta and the Serie A men will play in Group F with Villarreal and Man United.

The third club from pot 3 is Zenit FC and the Russian champions will play in Group H with Juve and Chelsea.

Next club out is Benfica with the Lisbon giants heading to Group E where Bayern and Barcelona await.

Draw time again and it's the turn of pot 3 (Ajax, Porto, Zenit and Benfica....)  the first name from the third pot sees Shakhtar Donetsk being drawn with the side from Ukraine heading to Group D... a group which is shaping up as the same as last season's!

More awards and this time it's the Midfielder of the Year awards which go to: Alexia Putellas (FC Barcelona) and Chelsea's Kante.

Some tasty groups coming along with Group A (Cty, PSG) and E (Bayern and Barcelona) looking spicy!!!

The penultimate side are Sevilla and the Andalusian side go to Group G with Lille. Man United head to Group F with Villarreal

The next side from pot 2 is Juventus and the Turin based side are paired in Group H with Chelsea. The next club are FC Barcelona with the Catalan giants set to play in Group E (Bayern).

The third team out is Liverpool and the 'Reds' will head to Group B with Atleti. The fourth club from pot 2 is PSG so the French side head to Group A. Messi heads to Manchester !

Eight sides ready to discover their fate with the first side out being .... Borussia Dortmund and the German side will be placed in Group C with Sporting CP. Next side out is Real Madrid with Ancelotti's men heading to Group D (Inter)

Back to the draw with Pot 2 next up.... this is the pot where Real Madrid, Barça, PSG, Liverpool lurk ....

Another UEFA award and this time it's for the Best Defenders in the Champions League. Irene Paredes (FCB) wins the women's award and Ruben Dias (City) bags the men's award.

Lille will head to Group G with UCL holders Chelsea in Group H

The fourth side out are Inter and the Serie A side head to Grouo D. It's Group E for Bayern Munich. Next name out is Villarreal and Emery's men go to Group F.

Next side out is Atletico Madrid and they go to Group B. Next side out is Sporting CP and they head to Group C

Off we go... draw time.... Ivanovic picks the first ball and it's Manchester City who go to Group A

UEFA also confirm that the matchday schedule will be confirmed by next Saturday at the latest. Tomorrow sees the draw for the Conference and Europa League competitions and those draws may condition certain aspects of kick-off times, television interets, policing in cities with numerous participating clubs.

Marchetti will once again impress us with his encyclopedic knowledge of all 32 participating sides...An essential addition to any football pub quiz !

Now a brief run-through of how the four pots are composed based on their UEFA coefficient and how the groups are divided by television rights pairing systems. The Russia-Ukraine situation is also mentioned.

Giorgio Marchetti takes to the stage with UEFA Head of competitions Michael Heselschwerdt as we edge towards the start of the draw.

FC Brcelona Femeni stopper Sandra Paños gets the Best Goalkeeper of the Year award with Chelsea player Mendy getting the men's award.

First individual player awards go to Best Goalkeeper of the Year in both men's and women's games.

Hold that, looks like a UEFA award will precede the drawing of the balls. 

Looks like draw time is looming as both players take their place beside the pots....

Both former Chelsea players recall their 2012 Champions League triumph when they overcame FC Bayern in Munich.


Branislav Ivanovic takes to the stage and the Serbian international is one of the invited guests to assist in the draw. He will be assisted by former Ghanaian international Michael Essien.

The Danish medical team recall that night in Copenhagen as the Danish player collapsed and how team-work was key in saving Eriksen's live on that night n 12 June and how the incident has prompted many sports organizations and individuals to look at cardiac situations and ensure that the correct equipment is available to deal with potential cardiac arrests in the future.

Members of the Danish medical team take to the stage to accept the award with Simon Kjær sending a video message of thanks. One of the most dramatic moments witnessed by football fans for a long time as the Inter player collapsed on the pitch in Copenhagen last June.

The first of the awards is about to be presented this evening and UEFA Preident Ceferin comes to the stage to explain the President's award which goes to Milan defender Simon Kjaer and the Denmark medical staff who are recipients of the 2021 UEFA President's Award after saving Christian Eriksen's live duiring the Euro 2020 game between Denmark and Finland.

We're live in Istanbul where host Pedro Pinto introduces a brief video showcasing last season's competition.

Group stage conditioning factors

A reminder that no teams from the same country can be placed in the same group. Due to political tensions Russian teams (Zenit) will not be pitted against sides from Ukraine (D.Kyiv and Shakhtar)

When do UCL 2021/22 group stage matches take place?

Group stage

14/15 September 2021: Matchday 1

28/29 September 2021: Matchday 2

19/20 October 2021: Matchday 3

2/3 November 2021: Matchday 4

23/24 November 2021: Matchday 5

7/8 December 2021: Matchday 6

Knockout phase

15/16/22/23 February & 8/9/15/16 March 2022: Round of 16

5/6 & 12/13 April 2022: Quarter-finals

26/27 & 3/4 May 2022: Semi-finals

28 May 2022: Final


PSG pre-group stage favourites

Having reinforced substantially during the summer, the Ligue 1 side are currently firm favourites to lift the Champions League come the end of May


UCL destinations for CR7 and Mbappé

Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappé are two of the finest strikers in the world and both currently subject to acute transfer speculation. Will the French striker be pulling on the famous white Real Madrid shirt next season and will the Portuguese make a return to Manchester in the sky blue of City? The current transfer window closes on August 31.

I imagine in remaining faithful with recent UEFA draw procedures, we'll see the familiar faces of host Pedro Pinto along with UEFA competition director Michael Heselschwerdt and general secretary Giorgio Marchetti. . Special guests Branislav Ivanović and Michael Essien have been confirmed by UEFA as special guests with both former players set to assist with the draw.


Paris Saint-Germain's Qatari President Nasser Al-Khelaifi arrives to attend the draw for the UEFA Champions League football tournament in Istanbul.


Guests starting to arrive at the UEFA gala event in Istanbul with president Ceferin one of the first to arrive

Pogba explains the 'Champions League Varane' chant



Two potential 'group's of death'

Any draw procedure worth it's weight in salt will no doubt drum out the old 'group of death' scenario and today's live feed is no different.

There are a few potential banana skins in pot 3 and AC Milan in pot 4 is a side that no-one in the other pots will be anxious to face.

However, in terms of already qualified teams, our group of death of choice would be: Manchester City, PSG, Porto, Milan.

Another possibility based on historical European pedigree: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Ajax, Milan.


Champions League football is big business

How much money can club's generate from the participating in the UEFA competition?

Full report


Champions League football in times of a pandemic

Much has changed in the world in the space of a year with the covid-19 pandemic still shaping the lives for many and this is true in the world of football. Despite the vaccine roll-out across the continent and the welcome return of fans at Euro 2020, covid cases continue to grow in many places and UEFA are expected to outline a regulation on away fans at the group stage of the competition. It's anticipated that fans will attend almost every home game with spectators levels set to be set by local governments but stadium access may only be secured in many places via covid passports or negative PCR tests.


Glittering Prize

The UCL trophy on display in Istanbul this evening ahead of the draw

Spain have five representatives in this year's competition with Atletico Madrid, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Sevilla being joined by 2020/21 UEFA Europa League winners Villarreal after Unai Emery's side saw off Manchester United in a dramatic penalty shoot-out in Gdansk (Poland).

Draw restrictions

No sides from the same country can be placed in the same group and political tension between Russia and Ukraine will guarantee that Zent and Shakhtar and Dynamo Kyiv are kept apart in the group stage. This will be the first time that away goals will not count as double in the case of a tie in the knockout stage with extra time and penalty kicks set to be used should sides be locked after home and away legs.

As well as the draw taking place this evening for the group stage of the Champions League, the Istanbul event will also see the announcing and presentation of a series of UEFA awards for Player of the Year in the men's and women's game and I calculate the entire event to take approximately 90 minutes or so. Unlike last year's ceremony in Geneva, there will be a limited number of guests in attendance this evening.

Champions League 2021/22 schedule:

Matchday 1: 14/15 September

Matchday 2: 28/29 September

Matchday 3: 19/20 October

Matchday 4: 2/3 November

Matchday 5: 23/24 November

Matchday 6: 7/8 December

AC Milan lurking in pot four is a draw that no-one will want from what, on paper is supposed to be the weakest of the four.

Here are the four pots ahead of the draw


The 32 already qualified teams were joined by six additional sides who progressed to the group stage by virtue of the play-off path: Malmo (Sweden), Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine), Young Boys (Switzerland), Benfica (Portugal), Salzburg (Austria) and participating in the UCL group stage for the first time ever...FC Sheriff (Moldova).

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The Attaturk Stadium in the Turkish city will now stage the 2023 final match of the Champions League with the 2021/22 final game to be held in Saint Petersburg (Russia).

The draw gets underway at 1800 CEST/1200 ET in Istanbul (Turkey) where both the 2020 and 2021 finals were initially scheduled to be staged.

Hello and a very warm welcome to our live coverage of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League group stage draw where all 32 participating sides will discover their opponents in the next stage of the competition.


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