Champions League draw: Confirmed pots and possible groups of death

Liverpool could be paired with Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Inter in Thursday's Champions League group stage draw.

Real Madrid's Luka Modric lifts the Champions League trophy   -  Getty Images

European giant, including Barcelona, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus will find out their Champions League groups on Thursday.

The final qualifying rounds concluded on Wednesday, with Benfica, PSV and Red Star Belgrade booking their place at Europe's top table.

As always the draw will be complicated and convoluted, but UEFA has confirmed the four pots that will make up the group stage.

Benfica's qualification means Liverpool has landed in pot three despite reaching the final last season, losing to Real Madrid after a pair of Loris Karius errors.

READ: Benfica, PSV and Red Star reach Champions League group stage

POT 1 

Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Lokomotiv

The top pot consists of Champions League holder Real Madrid, Europa League winner Atletico Madrid and the champions of each of Europe's top six leagues. This explains why Russian Premier League side Lokomotiv is included. With Madrid and Juventus in the same pot, Cristiano Ronaldo cannot come up against the LaLiga giant in the group stage of his first European campaign for the Bianconeri. Neither can Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar return to Camp Nou to face Barcelona at this stage.

POT 2

Borussia Dortmund, Porto, Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica, Napoli, Tottenham, Roma

No club can be drawn against a team from its own country at this stage, so there will be no local derby between Manchester City and Manchester United, for example. United's place in pot two does leave Jose Mourinho's men likely to face one of the elite clubs in the group stage, though. Last season's semifinalists Roma is also in pot two, while fellow Serie A side Napoli boast Carlo Ancelotti, a three-time winner of the competition, as its new coach. Shakhtar cannot be paired in the same group as Lokomotiv as UEFA has ruled teams from Russia and Ukraine must be kept apart.

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POT 3

Liverpool, Schalke, Lyon, Monaco, Ajax, CSKA, PSV, Valencia

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool is undoubtedly the team to avoid from pot three, although there are plenty of other threats for the giant. Dutch teams PSV and Ajax should be competitive, while Schalke was runner-up in the Bundesliga to Bayern Munich last term. Valencia has made eye-catching signings, including Goncalo Guedes from PSG and Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi - it will be dangerous. And, Monaco may have lost even more of its star names, with Thomas Lemar and Fabinho the latest to depart, but it reached the semifinals in 2016-17 under Leonardo Jardim.

POT 4

Viktoria Plzen, Club Brugge, Galatasaray, Young Boys, Inter, Hoffenheim, Red Star Belgrade, AEK Athens

The bottom pot can usually be relied upon to provide intrigue and this year is no different with the return of Inter to the Champions League. Galatasaray is the cliched 'tough place to go' in the Champions League, while Swiss Super League side Young Boys makes its debut in the competition. Hoffenheim is also newcomer to the Champions League, the Bundesliga outfit falling to Liverpool in the playoff round last term, while Red Star Belgrade - European Cup winner in 1990-91 - will get its first taste of Champions League action too.

ALSO READ: Ajax, AEK and Young Boys reach Champions League group stage

GROUP OF DEATH

Huge clubs lurk in every pot, so there is every chance of a 'group of death' scenario unfolding when the draw is made. For example, holder Real Madrid could conceivably have to take on Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and Inter just to make it through to the knockout rounds.

That would be a nightmare scenario for the Nerazzurri on its first appearance in the group stage of the Champions League since 2011-12.

Liverpool - and everyone else outside of the top two pots - will likely have their fingers crossed to be paired with Lokomotiv, who are pot one's weakest side on paper by a distance.

But, Klopp's men could be forced to take on Barcelona, Roma and Hoffenheim, which could give the German a return to his home country at least.

An example of a weaker group could be: Lokomotiv, Porto, PSV and Club Brugge. But, clubs will just have to wait for the luck of the draw, which is set to begin at 17.00 BST on Thursday.

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