The Champions League group stage draw is on Thursday, and you can watch it on CBS Sports Network and CBS All Access. Ahead of the draw, where 32 teams will be divided into eight groups of four, here are the main storylines to keep an eye on as the 2020-21 group stage officially begins in late October.
Who gets the group of death?
The biggest story from every draw is who ends up in the most difficult group. Last season's group of death was Group F which featured Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan and Slavia Prague. This season, obviously nobody knows how things will turn out, but there are some really enticing options.
Look at some of these possibilities:
- Bayern Munich
- Manchester City
- Inter Milan
That would be something. Arguably three contenders in a group and a Marseille team that has a ton of potential.
Or how about ...
- Inter Milan
- Borussia Monchengladbach
With how this is set up, we could get a monster group right away, and either of these would provide 12 must-watch games.
The group you want
If you are a Pot 1 team that isn't a lock to advance like Sevilla or Porto, you are hoping you draw Shakhtar Donetsk in the next round. While it won't be easy whoever you get, the ideal draw would look something like this:
- Shakhtar Donetsk
Easy groups don't exist -- unless you are a dominant giant like Bayern. But getting any of these three would be a win for those teams ranked highly.
The sneakiest club is ...
Marseille remain France's only Champions League winner, but a club that has fallen from the ranks as France's top team. This is a club that has quality players but is wildly inconsistent, especially defensively. They have the potential to advance to the round of 16 regardless of their group, and they are a team to watch. When they are on the same page, they can perform well. Just ask PSG.
The Pot 3 club you want to avoid
It's easy -- Atalanta. The Cinderella of last season, the Italian side made it to the quarterfinals and nearly knocked out PSG. They score like crazy and have one of the world's most prolific, unselfish and dominant attacks. They got off to a slow start in the group stage last season -- but here's thinking they come out of the gates hot and again make the knockout stage, potentially seeing a big team crash out as a result.
The team from Pot 4 you want to avoid
Borussia Monchengladbach. Love this team. Yann Sommer is a world-class goalkeeper, Alassane Plea is a rising star, Marcus Thuram is making quite the name for himself and Lars Stindl brings that veteran presence. In the middle, defensive midfielder Denis Zakaria's stock has skyrocketed, and this could be his coming out party. They won't be pushover and are one of the top Pot 4 teams we've seen in recent years.