Champions League draw: who to avoid, who to wish for

I have previously written about the luck of the draw and how this affected both Manchester City and Chelsea in particular last season. Both clubs went out at the Champions League group stage after being drawn in much tougher groups than would have been the case under a fairer system than the one currently employed to rank the clubs.

UEFA’s coefficients system is relatively easy to understand, awarding points based on matches played in UEFA competitions. It does a pretty good job with most clubs given its simplicity but it is slow to respond to changing circumstances. Clubs who are on the way up are often misclassified due to lack of results in European competition and clubs on the way down can also end up in the wrong draw pots. Such declines can be masked in a system which only takes UEFA matches into account as the sample size of fixtures is too small. This is exacerbated by the fact that the UEFA system takes no account of the relative strengths of teams playing each other, whether they are playing home or away and treats results from five years ago the same as those from more recent times. As the BBC explain in this excellent article, the coefficients are decided purely on the basis of win, draw or loss with extra bonuses for reaching different stages of the competition.

Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund both suffered from this system last year as did Dutch club Ajax. With City in draw pot 3 and Borussia Dortmund in pot 4 despite their domestic championships in England and Germany, there was a potential catastrophe in waiting. That befell Dutch champions Ajax who ended up in Group D  with the champions of Spain, England and Germany. It was the only group with four champions.

The rest of this article, including who to avoid and who to draw, can be found at

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2 Responses to Champions League draw: who to avoid, who to wish for

  1. Ross says:

    How you can say chelsea is one to “wish for” is ludicrous.

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