Chelsea's Essien celebrates scoring against APOEL Nicosia during their Champions League soccer match in London
Chelsea's Michael Essien celebrates scoring against APOEL Nicosia during their Champions League soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London December 8, 2009. REUTERS

With Champions League qualifiers decided, the draw for the Group stages comes fairly immediate today with Europe's top teams joined by Tottenham Hotspur, Hapeol Tel Aviv, Partizan Belgrade and MSK Zilina.

The draw features teams under management by Alex Ferguson, two times Champions League winner with Manchester United, Jose Mourinho, two times Champions League winner with Inter Milan and FC Porto (now with Real Madrid) and of course two times Italian winner with AC Milan, Carlo Ancelotti, now manager of Chelsea.

These greats will be joined by the likes of Harry Redknapp, newcomer with Tottenham, and Steve McClaren's Dutch side, FC Twente, who qualified after McClaren guided them to the Eredvisie title, but promptly left to manage Wolfsburg who were beaten over the weekend by Bayern in the Bundesliga opener.

The teams feature four pots meaning that each group of four will face a team from 'Pot 1' containing Champions League regulars, 'Pot 2/3' top performers from each country and 'Pot 4' teams from smaller countries/qualifers.

Whilst Tottenham Hotspur join Rangers in 'Pot 3' most focus will be on Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United who are in 'Pot 1', although teams from the same association cannot be placed in the same pool, eg. Tottenham will have to face one of Bayern, Inter, Lyon or AC Milan whilst Barcelona will certainly not be playing Real Madrid or Valencia until the knockout stages.

With certain players cup-tied, transfers will be an issue in the remaining days left of the transfer window as Sevilla were knocked out on Tuesday leaving potential Tottenham striker Luis Fabiano not available (Arsenal agreed their deal for Sébastien Squillaci before the Champions League decider, hence the defender remains available).

Elsewhere, Robinho was a target for AC Milan who were chasing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Rafa Benitez - now at Inter refused to acknowledge Liverpool's distress over Javier Mascherano/Dirk Kuyt.

"I will not talk about this because I am the coach," he said, "The coach cannot sign any players. It has to be the technical director and the chairman. The club can do it. I am the coach, not the manager."

The full 'Pots' can be seen below with Brussel-based Uefa going live with the draw at 1800 CET:

"We'll take on anybody now," said Redknapp, manager of Tottenham after last night's win. "We're in the group stage and we'll give anyone a good game here."

RouteLast inYears*2009/10**Best***
Pot 1
FC Internazionale MilanoHolders/ Champions, Italy2009/109WinnersWinners
FC BarcelonaChampions, Spain2009/1014Semi-finalsWinners
Manchester United FCRunners-up, England2009/1015Quarter-finalsWinners
Chelsea FCChampions, England2009/108Round of 16Runners-up
Arsenal FCThird place, England2009/1012Quarter-finalsRunners-up
FC Bayern MünchenChampions, Germany2009/1013Runners-upWinners
AC MilanThird place,
2009/1013Round of 16Winners
Olympique LyonnaisRunners-up, France2009/1010Semi-finalsSemi-finals
Pot 2
SV Werder BremenThird place, Germany2008/096UEL, round of 16Quarter-finals
Real Madrid CFRunners-up, Spain2009/1014Round of 16Winners
AS RomaRunners-up, Italy2008/096UEL, round of 32Runners-up
FC Shakhtar DonetskChampions, Ukraine2008/095UEL, round of 32Group stage
SL BenficaChampions, Portugal2007/085UEL, qfWinners
Valencia CFThird place, Spain2007/086UEL, qfRunners-up
Olympique de MarseilleChampions, France2009/106UEL, round of 16Winners
Panathinaikos FCChampions, Greece2008/098UEL, round of 16Runners-up
Pot 3
Tottenham Hotspur FCFourth place, EnglandDebut0Did not competeSemi-finals
Rangers FCChampions, Scotland2009/109Group stageSemi-finals
AFC AjaxRunners-up,
2005/068UEL, round of 32Winners
FC Schalke 04Runners-up, Germany2007/082Did not competeQuarter-finals
FC Basel 1893Champions, Switzerland2008/092UEL, group stageSecond group stage
SC BragaRunners-up, PortugalDebut0UEL, 3qrN/A
FC KøbenhavnChampions, Denmark2006/071UEL, round of 32Group stage
FC Spartak MoskvaRunners-up, Russia2006/079Did not competeSemi-finals
Pot 4
Tel-Aviv FC
Champions, IsraelDebut0UEL, round of 32N/A
FC TwenteChampions, NetherlandsDebut0UEL, round of 32N/A
FC Rubin KazanChampions, Russia2009/101UEL, round of 16Group stage
AJ AuxerreThird place, France2002/033Did not competeQuarter-finals
CFR 1907 ClujChampions, Romania2008/091UEL, group stageGroup stage
FK PartizanChampions, Serbia2003/041UEL, group stageGroup stage
MŠK ŽilinaChampions, SlovakiaDebut0UEL, play-off roundN/A
BursasporChampions, TurkeyDebut0Did not competeN/A

What To Look Out For

  • The Group of Death: Inter, Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur, and FC Twente?
  • Old Rivalries: Glasgow Rangers will be 3/8 to face an English team sparking English-scottish rivalries with England dominating the recent proceedings.
  • Reunions: Jose Mourinho's spanish Real Madrid side could Chelsea in the group stages after a thrilling encounter with his former team in last season's knockout last sixteen. A meeting with either Arsene Wenger or Alex Ferguson or even Massimiliano Allegri's AC Milan could also be interesting for the former Premiership and Serie A manager.