how UEFA Champions League draws work

How UEFA Champions League Draws Work

Almost all football fans follow the UEFA Champions League draws, but only very few know how they work.

In this post, we’ll breakdown the key processes involved and how the UEFA Champions League draws work.

UEFA Champions League Draw Overview

The UEFA Champions League draw is a process of systematically selecting teams that would be paired together, either in a series of fixtures or a group.

Usually, the draw is done before the Preliminary (group) phase and after it for the knockout fixtures up to the final match.

Now, let’s analyze how each of these draws works.

How UEFA Champions League Draw Works – Group Stage

As you may know, in the new format of the Champions league there are now 36 teams that will compete with each other instead of the usual 32.

Also, instead of the regular 8 Groups of 4 teams each, there will be a league of 32 teams who will play 10 fixtures each.

(Read more on the new format as it is properly explained in this article.)

However, this new format will not kick-start until the 2024/25 season. Therefore, the exact format of how the draw will take place in unknown.

Nonetheless, we are not left in complete darkness. We will explain how the Group stage draws for the existing format works.

Reminder; 32 teams are split equally in 8 groups. Therefore, there will be 4 “pots”.

See below the breakdown of how pots are drawn in the UCL.

Pot 1Pot 2Pot 3Pot 4
8 Teams in total8 Teams in total8 Teams in total8 Teams in total
UEFA Champions League holderThe next best 8 teams based on the previous year’s UEFA Club coefficient.The next best 8 teams based on the previous year’s UEFA Club coefficient.The next best 8 teams based on the previous year’s UEFA Club coefficient.
Europa League Title holderTeams in pot 1 do not count hereTeams in Pots 1 and 2 do not have a place in the ranking here.Teams in Pots 1, 2 and 3 do not count here.
The top 6 League Winners

If the Champions League or Europa League winners are also the league title winners, the League winners of the 7th or 8th ranked league based on their UEFA coefficient replaces them.

Sample Champions League Group

Now that we understand how the Pots 1 to 4 teams are seeded, let take a look at how teams are grouped based on their Pots.

In a group, 4 teams are placed there in order of their pot number.

The first team in the group is from Pot 1 seed. Same applies to 2nd, 3rd and 4th spots.

See below a sample Champions League group, and how pot seeds take effect.

Sample Champions League Group (A – G)
Pot 1 Team
Pot 2 Team
Pot 3 Team
Pot 4 Team

Also, teams from the same nation or FA are never seeded in the same group.

How Champions League Draws Work – Knockout Phase

The UEFA Champions League draws for knockout phase differs from that of the group stage work. It is done twice – R016 to Quarter Final and Semi Final.

Remember that in the first round of the knockout phase, there are 16 teams.

So, there will be just two pots – Pot 1 and Pot 2.

Pot 1 will contain all group winners while Pot 2 is for group runner-ups. This way, knockout fixture will be a group winner vs a group runner-up team.

The Quarter Final draw mapping ensures that no teams from the same nation face each other.

However, the second phase (Semi Final) draw of the knockout stages is different. Two teams from the same nation can face each other.

To understand the breakdown of the UCL fixtures and total matches per season, read up our complete guide and breakdown.

The Champions League Draw Event

Of course, the Champions League Draw is a big event, and it is organized by UEFA.

Every single invitee or agenda for the day is prearranged and planned for by UEFA’s organizing committee.

Final Thought

Let’s recap how the Champions League draw works.

The first draw determines which teams are grouped together in the preliminary phase. Pots 1 to 4 are seeded such that teams from the same nation do need to meet at this stage.

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The Second draw determines the Round of 16 and Quarter Final fixtures.

Finally, the last draw is for the Semi final stage of the competition.

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