Arsenal among top seeds for Champions League draw

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The Independent Online

Arsenal will join the top seeds in the Champions League draw today following their victory over Udinese but Manchester City are likely to be handed a tough introduction to life in Europe's elite club competition.

Roberto Mancini's side are set to be among the group of third seeds in the draw in Monaco - meaning the strongest sides in Europe outside of England are all potential opponents.

The other English clubs in the Champions League draw are all among the top seeds, alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Porto and Bayern Munich.

The worst-case scenario for City would be to be drawn into a group with reigning champions Barcelona and a tough second seed such as AC Milan or Lyon.

At least the danger of all the English clubs drawing Borussia Dortmund as the fourth seed has been removed - the withdrawal of Fenerbahce by the Turkish federation due to an ongoing match-fixing organisation means the Germans move up to third seeds. Turkish league runners-up Trabzonspor replace Fenerbahce - but they are among the fourth seeds.

For most of Europe it will be Manchester City who are the team to avoid, such is the size and strength of the squad that Mancini has assembled at vast expense.

Mancini has made it clear he intends to rotate his squad to ensure the side are capable of challenging in Europe and the three domestic competitions.

"[Rotating] is no problem for me," said Mancini.

"The problem is if you don't have good players.

"For the manager it is not easy because all the players want to play every game.

"But when you play in four competitions and have a match every three days, there is space for everyone. It is impossible to play a top game every three days.

"And the Champions League is very hard. It is different from the Europa League.

"For this we need a good team, with good players and a good mentality."

UEFA's rules for the draw will see the 32 qualified teams allocated into eight groups of four teams. Each group will contain a top seed, plus one club each from the second, third and fourth pots.

Each pot is determined by a club's UEFA ranking and the top two in each group will go through to the knock-out phase of the Champions League, and the third-place side to the knock-out phase of the Europa League.

Likely pots for the Champions League draw:

Pot one: Man Utd, Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Porto, Inter Milan.

Pot two: Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, Villarreal, AC Milan, Valencia, Marseille, CSKA Moscow, Benfica.

Pot three: Zenit St Petersburg, Man City, Olympiakos, Ajax, Bayer Leverkusen, Basle, Lille, Borussia Dortmund.

Pot four: BATE, Dinamo Zagreb, Napoli, APOEL, Genk, Trabzonspor, Otelul Galati, Viktoria Plzen.

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