Michael Essien to assist in UEFA Champions League draw

BY: Kweku Zurek
Michael Essien to assist in UEFA Champions League draw
Michael Essien to assist in UEFA Champions League draw

Former Chelsea teammates Michael Essien and Branislav Ivanović have been named the special guests of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League group stage draw on Thursday, August 26, 2021.

The pair of former UCL winners will assist in the draw which will involve teams including the holders Chelsea.

It will be recalled that Essien and Ivanović won the UCL with Chelsea in 2012.

The Ghanaian is now an assistant coach with Danish-side FC Nordsjælland after a career that also saw him play for clubs including Olympique Lyonnais, Real Madrid and AC Milan.

Who is involved in the draw?

Twenty-six teams qualified automatically for the group stage, with the final six group stage berths being decided via the play-offs.

ENG: Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea
ESP: Atlético, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Villarreal
ITA: Inter Milan, AC Milan, Atalanta, Juventus
GER: Bayern, Leipzig, Dortmund, Wolfsburg
FRA: LOSC, Paris
POR: Sporting CP, Porto, Benfica
NED: Ajax
RUS: Zenit
BEL: Club Brugge
UKR: Dynamo Kyiv
TUR: Beşiktaş
SUI: Young Boys
SWE: Malmö
Three remaining play-off winners.

How does the draw work?

The teams will be split into four seeding pots. Pot 1 will consist of the holders, the UEFA Europa League winners and the champions of the six highest-ranked nations who did not qualify via one of the 2020/21 continental titles; Pots 2 to 4 will be determined by the club coefficient rankings.

No team can play a side from their own association. Any other restrictions will be announced ahead of the draw ceremony.

In the case of associations with two representatives, clubs will be paired in order to split their matches between Tuesdays and Wednesdays. In the case of associations with four (or more) representatives, two pairings will be made. These pairings are to be based on TV audiences and will be confirmed ahead of the draw ceremony.

When are the group stage games?

The full fixture list for the group stage will be communicated following the draw. The dates are as follows:

Matchday 1: 14/15 September
Matchday 2: 28/29 September
Matchday 3: 19/20 October
Matchday 4: 2/3 November
Matchday 5: 23/24 November
Matchday 6: 7/8 December