The UEFA Champions League group stage will move into sharp focus when the draw for the third qualifying round takes place today from 12.00CET in Switzerland.
The UEFA Champions League group stage will move into sharp focus when the draw for the decisive third qualifying round takes place today in Nyon, Switzerland.
Six former winners of European club football's most prestigious trophy are involved in the draw - which gets under way from 12.00CET at UEFA headquarters and will be streamed live on uefa.com - with SL Benfica, AFC Ajax and Celtic FC among the 16 seeded clubs along with last season's runners-up Liverpool FC and UEFA Cup holders Sevilla FC. There are also some intriguing names among the 16 unseeded sides, including FC Spartak Moskva, AEK Athens FC, AS Sparta Praha and Fenerbahçe SK, all of whom have appeared in the group stage in the past two seasons. If any club in the second qualifying round has an individual coefficient which entitles them to be seeded in the third qualifying round, the potential winner of the match involving that club has been automatically seeded in the draw.
In all, 46 teams will be involved with the 28 teams still competing in the second qualifying round, to be concluded next Wednesday, joined by the 18 clubs entering at this stage. Clubs from the same country cannot be drawn together. Matches will be played on 14/15 and 28/29 August, with Sevilla's second leg scheduled for Tuesday 28 August irrespective of their opponents and venue because they meet AC Milan in the UEFA Super Cup that Friday. The winners of the 16 third qualifying round ties will go through to September's group stage, where they will join 16 teams who have automatically qualified. Friday's proceedings will be conducted by David Taylor, UEFA’s General Secretary, and Giorgio Marchetti, director of professional football. The final will be played in Moscow on 21 May.