Liverpool face a testing return to the Champions League after Uefa confirmed the Reds will be in Pot 3 for the Champions League group stage draw in September, meaning they could face one of Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich.
With clubs unable to be drawn against other teams from the same domestic league, Arsenal and Chelsea’s confirmation that they will be in Pot 1 (providing the Gunners qualify) means Liverpool see their possible opponents limited.
That means along with the three teams stated above, they could also face Benfica, Atletico Madrid or Porto, and a look at Pot 2 doesn’t make things any better.
Brendan Rodgers and his side could face trips to last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund, French champions Paris St-Germain or Serie A holders Juventus, as well as Schalke, Shakhtar Donetsk, FC Basel and Zenit St Petersburg.
And while Pot 4 is yet to be confirmed due to the play-off qualifiers that will take place in August, Monaco, Roma and Anderlecht will all feature in the draw and could face any of the English teams in the competition, meaning the likes of Radamel Falcao, Dimitar Berbatov and Eric Abidal could be heading to Anfield in the new season.
While 2011-12 champions Chelsea and 2006 finalists Arsenal have been kept in Pot 1, Manchester City must make do with a spot in Pot 2, meaning they will also face one of Europe’s biggest teams in the group stages.
Having been drawn with defending champions Bayern Munich this season, Manuel Pellegrini’s side succumbed to a 3-1 defeat at the Etihad, although they recovered to inflict a 3-2 defeat on Bayern at the Allianz Arena that nearly saw them steal in ahead of Pep Guardiola’s side at the top of Group A.
Should Arsenal or Porto fail to come through their play-off fixtures (as well as Zenit in Pot 2 and Bayer Leverkusen and Napoli in Pot 3) each team currently drawn below them will move up a spot, meaning Schalke and Dortmund could benefit with a move up to Pot 1.
But with Liverpool drawn low down in Pot 3 due to their small European coefficient after their four year exile from the Champions League, they will not benefit from such luck even if all those sides suffer defeat in the two-legged play-offs.
So what would be the ideal draw for each Premier League club?
Chelsea and Arsenal:
Best draw – FC Basel, Sporting Lisbon, play-off winner
Nightmare draw – Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Monaco
Best draw – Porto, Olympiakos, play-off winner
Nightmare draw – Real Madrid, Napoli, Monaco
Best draw – Porto, Basel, play-off winner
Nightmare draw – Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Monaco.
Champions League seedings:
* Team in play-offs. Failure to qualify would see everyone below them move up a ranking
FC Porto *
Zenit St Petersburg *
Bayer Leverkusen *
TBC (Anderlecht, Roma and Monaco all feature).