How much do seedings matter?

In the run-up to every group stage draw, the focus is on which of the four pots the 32 teams will be placed in: analyse how seedings have translated into results.

In the run-up to every UEFA Champions League draw, the focus is always on which of the four seeding pots the 32 contenders will be placed in.

The nature of the competition means there are few – if any – weak teams in any of the pots, with this time holders Real Madrid CF among the top seeds, the English, Italian and French champions in the second category, a five-time champion in the third, and AS Monaco FC lurking in the fourth. 

But how do the seedings work out once the groups have been played? investigates, using every one of the 60 seeding pots consisting of eight teams apiece, since when the group stage expanded to 32 clubs in 1999/2000.

Reached next stage
Transferred to UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League

Pot 1
1st: 66 teams from Pot 1 won their group (55%), 2nd: 37 were runners-up (31%), 3rd: 9 finished third (8%), 4th, 8 came fourth (7%)

Pot 2
1st: 31 (26%), 2nd: 44 (37%), 3rd: 25 (21%), 4th, 20 (17%)

Pot 3
1st: 15 (13%), 2nd: 23 (19%), 3rd: 44 (37%), 4th, 38 (32%)

Pot 4
1st: 8 (7%), 2nd: 16 (14%), 3rd: 42 (35%), 4th: 54 (45%)

(% may add up to 99 or 101 due to rounding)

Best years
Pot 1
• In 2002/03 seven teams from Pot 1 finished top of their groups, while each year from 2005/06 to 2008/09, and again in 2010/11, all eight went through.

Málaga made the last eight in 2012/13
Málaga made the last eight in 2012/13©AFP/Getty Images

Pot 2
• In 2004/05 five sides topped their groups, while in 2006/07 all eight went through, just as for Pot 1.

Pot 3
• In 1999/2000 three teams won their groups while last season a record six progressed, five as runners-up.

Pot 4
• In 2000/01 and 2001/02, and again in 2012/13, two of the eight finished top. In 2001/02 a record four advanced to the next stage.

Worst year
Pot 1
• Three sides failed to get through during the first 32-team season of 1999/2000, and in 2000/01 a record two teams came fourth.

Pot 2
• In 2012/13, five of the clubs in the pot failed to proceed to the knockout rounds. In the last five years, as well as three seasons previously, two ended bottom.

Pot 3
• In 2006/07 all eight sides failed to survive the group phase, though only two were fourth, compared with five in 2003/04.

Pot 4
• Last term was the fourth time (all in the past eight seasons) when no teams went through, and the third occasion after 2006/07 and 2010/11 where six finished last.

• No club from Pot 1 has placed fourth since Manchester United FC in 2005/06; before that, at least one always had.

• Five of the eight instances of Pot 4 sides winning their groups came between 2000/01 and 2002/03. All three since then were in 2011/12 or 2012/13.

• Eleven of the last 15 winners began the competition in Pot 1. The exceptions were AC Milan (2002/03, 3), FC Porto (2003/04, 2), Liverpool FC (2004/05, 2) and FC Internazionale Milano (2009/10, 2) – two of those coached by José Mourinho, who has never reached the final from Pot 1.

• Nine of the last 15 runners-up were in Pot 1. The exceptions were Valencia CF (1999/2000, 3), Bayer 04 Leverkusen (2001/02, 3), Monaco (2003/04, 4), Milan (2004/05, 2), Borussia Dortmund (2012/13, 4) and Club Atlético de Madrid (2013/14, 2).

• Seven finals (2000/01, 2005/06–2008/09 and 2010/11–2011/12) contained two top seeds. Two (2003/04 and 2004/05) featured none.

• Five of the six finals that have gone to penalties in the past 15 years were between two teams from the same seeding pot (2002/03 the exception).