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Everything you need to know ahead of tonight’s Champions League draw

Five British football clubs are on the edge of their seats as they anticipate the Champions League group stage draw scheduled for Thursday at 17:00 BST in Monaco.

The high-stakes event will determine the fate of Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Newcastle, and Scottish champions Celtic.

Manchester City, reigning champions, will take the spotlight as top seeds, alongside Manchester United, Arsenal, and Newcastle as England’s other contenders.

Newcastle, absent from the group stages since 2002-03, is gearing up for a remarkable return, while Arsenal makes its first appearance since 2016-17.

Celtic, the Scottish champions, are also in the mix and could potentially face Arsenal or one of the Manchester teams.

However, UEFA rules dictate that teams from the same country cannot be drawn together, adding an extra layer of intrigue to the proceedings.

With teams divided into four pots based on their seeding, one from each pot will be placed into eight groups.

Notably, Spain boasts five representatives due to Sevilla’s qualification as Europa League winners, a departure from the usual league-based qualification.

This Champions League season holds special significance as it’s the last edition under the current format. The group stage matches are set to run from 19 September to 13 December, culminating in the final at Wembley on 1 June.

From the following season onwards, an expanded format will see 36 teams competing, each playing eight matches against different opponents, with four at home and four away.

The top eight teams from the group stage will advance directly to the last-16 knockout phase.

The teams ranked ninth to 24th will engage in two-legged play-offs to secure their spots in the knockout stage.

As fans eagerly await the outcome of the draw, the Champions League pots are as follows:

Pot 1: MANCHESTER CITY, Sevilla, Barcelona, Napoli, Bayern Munich, Paris St-Germain, Benfica, Feyenoord
Pot 2: Real Madrid, MANCHESTER UNITED, Inter Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, RB Leipzig, Porto, ARSENAL
Pot 3: Shakhtar Donetsk, Salzburg, Milan, Braga, PSV Eindhoven, Lazio, Red Star Belgrade, FC Copenhagen
Pot 4: Young Boys, Real Sociedad, Galatasaray, CELTIC, NEWCASTLE UNITED, Union Berlin, Royal Antwerp, RC Lens

The anticipation is high as football enthusiasts around the world eagerly await the unfolding of the next chapter in this prestigious tournament.

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