Chelsea could be drawn against Real Madrid in the group stage of the Champions League after changes to UEFA’s seeding.
Chelsea, as Premiership Champions, will automatically go into Pot 1, along with seven other domestic league champions and holders Barcelona.
Being only comprised of league champions, this year will have five teams that have up until now been in Pot 1 because of their consistency in European football, including Real Madrid, and Chelsea’s Premiership rivals Manchester United and Arsenal, being put into Pot 2. Chelsea will be eligible to play the Spanish giants, who finished 2nd in La Liga last season.
Manchester United and Arsenal will both be eligible to play either Barcelona or Bundesliga Champions Bayern Munich, neither of which van Gaal or Wenger’s side have good records against.
The new rules have attracted criticism, largely and pedictably from those clubs who will have more difficult starts to the European season, but UEFA have defended it by insisting having more league champions in the first pot gives the competition greater legitimacy.