The lineup for the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League group stage is complete and will feature an impressive 12 previous winners of Europe's premier club competition as well as three teams making their debut in this phase.
Eleven of the past champions were among the 22 automatic entrants, a number subsequently swelled by the progress of Celtic FC through one of this week's ten play-offs. For the draw, which takes place from 17.45CET on Thursday at Monaco's Grimaldi Forum, the 32 entrants have been split into four seeding pots (based on club coefficients), with each of the eight groups to contain one team from each tier.
No club can meet a side from their own association and the draw procedure will be explained during the ceremony, which also includes the presentation of the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.
Holders Chelsea FC lead the top tier of seeds, all of whom have lifted the trophy apart from 2005/06 runners-up Arsenal FC, and both London clubs will hope to emulate FC Bayern München's 2011/12 feat of playing the final in their home city – with the competition concluding at Wembley on Saturday 25 May. The third English team in Pot 1, Manchester United FC, are making a record 18th appearance in this, the 21st UEFA Champions League campaign proper.
By contrast, this is the first entry by French champions Montpellier Hérault SC, Denmark's FC Nordsjælland and play-off winners Málaga CF, a side enjoying only their second European appearance – which takes the number of clubs to have figured in the group stage to 127. Meanwhile, for the team that Montpellier pipped to last season's Ligue 1 title, Paris Saint-Germain FC, it is a first UEFA Champions League campaign in eight years, with other clubs ending absences being Juventus, Galatasaray AŞ and RSC Anderlecht.
Of the 32 sides that competed last term, 20 have qualified again – LOSC Lille completing the lineup after their extra-time defeat of FC København in the last play-off to finish on Wednesday. In total, clubs from 17 different national associations will play in the group stage, with England and Spain the best represented with a quartet of teams.
|Chelsea FC||Holders||2011/12||10||Winners||Winners |
|FC Barcelona||Runners-up, Spain||2011/12||16||Semi-finals||Winners |
|Manchester United FC||Runners-up, England||2011/12||17||UEL, Round of 16*||Winners |
|FC Bayern München||Runners-up, Germany||2011/12||15||Runners-up||Winners |
|Real Madrid CF||Champions, Spain||2011/12||16||Semi-finals||Winners |
|Arsenal FC||Third place, England||2011/12||14||Round of 16||Runners-up|
|FC Porto||Champions, Portugal||2011/12||16||UEL, Round of 32*||Winners |
|AC Milan||Runners-up, Italy||2011/12||15||Quarter-finals||Winners |
|Valencia CF||Third place, Spain||2011/12||8||UEL, Semi-finals*||Runners-up|
|SL Benfica||Runners-up, Portugal||2011/12||7||Quarter-finals||Winners x 2|
|FC Shakhtar Donetsk||Champions, Ukraine||2011/12||7||Group stage||Quarter-finals|
|FC Zenit St Petersburg||Champions, Russia||2010/11||2||Round of 16||Round of 16|
|FC Schalke 04||Third place, Germany||2010/11||4||UEL, Quarter-finals||Semi-finals|
|Champions, England||2011/12||1||UEL, Round of 16*||Group stage|
|SC Braga||Third place, Portugal||2010/11||1||UEL, Round of 32||Group stage|
|FC Dynamo Kyiv||Runners-up, Ukraine||2009/10||14||UEL, group stage||Semi-finals|
|Olympiacos FC||Champions, Greece||2011/12||13||UEL, Round of 16*||Quarter-finals|
|AFC Ajax||Champions, Netherlands||2011/12||10||UEL, Round of 32*||Winners |
|RSC Anderlecht||Champions, Belgium||2006/07||8||UEL, Round of 32||Semi-finals|
|Juventus||Champions, Italy||2010/11||12||N/A||Winners |
|FC Spartak Moskva||Runners-up, Russia||2010/11||10||UEL, Group stage||Semi-finals|
|Paris Saint-Germain FC||Runners-up, France||2004/05||4||UEL, Group stage||Semi-finals|
|LOSC Lille||Third place, France||2011/12||4||Group stage||Round of 16|
|Galatasaray AŞ||Champions, Turkey||2006/07||10||N/A||Quarter-finals|
|Celtic FC||Champions, Scotland||2008/09||6||UEL, Group stage||Winners |
|Borussia Dortmund||Champions, Germany||2011/12||5||Group stage||Winners |
|FC BATE Borisov||Champions, Belarus||2011/12||2||Group stage||Group stage|
|GNK Dinamo Zagreb||Champions, Croatia||2011/12||3||Group stage||Group stage|
|CFR 1907 Cluj||Champions, Romania||2011/12||2||Group stage||Group stage|
|Málaga CF||Fourth place, Spain||Debut||0||N/A||N/A|
|Montpellier Hérault SC||Champions, France||Debut||0||N/A||N/A|
|FC Nordsjælland||Champions, Denmark||Debut||0||UEL, Play-offs||N/A|
*Finished third in UEFA Champions League group
**Past group stage appearances not including 2012/13
***UEFA Champions League unless stated
****Includes pre-1992 European Champion Clubs' Cup
UEL = UEFA Europa League
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