Eight groups of four club teams, which will compete in pool play for the 2010-11 UEFA Champions League title, were announced in Monaco Thursday. According to UEFA: Champions League holders FC Internazionale Milano will begin the defense of their title in Group A with matches against SV Werder Bremen and two newcomers to this stage, Tottenham Hotspur FC and FC Twente.
The 32 clubs were split into eight sections of four with last season's runners-up FC Bayern München drawn in Group E alongside AS Roma, FC Basel 1893 and CFR 1907 Cluj. José Mourinho will make a swift return to Italy as his Real Madrid CF team meet AC Milan, as well as AFC Ajax and AJ Auxerre. FC Barcelona, winners in two of the past five seasons, will take on Panathinaikos FC, FC København and FC Rubin Kazan.
The group-stage fixtures will be played on 14/15 September, 28/29 September, 19/20 October, 2/3 November, 23/24 November and 7/8 December. The group winners and runners-up will progress to the first knockout round in the spring, with the final to be staged at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 28 May 2011. Teams finishing third in each section will transfer to the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
Ten play-off winners join the 22 automatic entrants in the group-stage draw at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, with the 32 sides split into four seeding pots and one from each drawn into the eight groups. Seeds are based on UEFA's coefficient system and no team can meet another from the same association.
Where two sides from the same association have qualified, they will be paired to split their matches between Tuesday and Wednesday, so one club will always play at home on one day and the other will play away on the other day. In the case of associations with three representatives, only two teams have been paired in terms of their fixtures; in the case of associations with four representatives, two pairings have been made based on the TV audience.
To ensure sides from the same country play on separate days, the eight groups will be distinguished by colour: Groups A-D will be red and Groups E-H blue. When a paired club is drawn, for example, into one of the red groups, the other paired club – once it has been drawn – will automatically be assigned to one of the four blue groups.
Teams from Pot 1 will be provisionally placed in the first position within their groups, teams from Pot 2 will provisionally take the second spot in their sections, and so on. Once the draw has been completed, a computer draw will determine the final position of the sides within their group and therefore the order of the home and away matches.
ROUND OF 16
Eight of the 16 teams in the draw – those that won their sections in the group stage – are seeded, with the eight runners-up unseeded. The runners-up are drawn first and play the first-leg matches at home. They cannot be paired with either the winners from their section or clubs from the same association.
QUARTERFINALS AND FINALS
The pairings from the quarter-finals onwards are determined by an open draw in which no teams are seeded and clubs from the same national association can be drawn against each other. The side drawn first will play the first leg at home. The last-four fixtures are also determined while an additional draw will define whether the winner of semi-final 1 or the winner of semi-final 2 will be considered, for administrative purposes, the home side in the final.