Having won the Champions League five out of the last ten seasons, Real Madrid will deservedly enter the group stages as one of the competition favourites yet again.

Despite being blown away by Manchester City in last year’s semi-final second leg, there will be renewed hope of European glory for Carlo Ancelotti and Los Blancos this campaign.

The group stage is usually a formality for Real Madrid. The Spanish giants have never failed to qualify from this phase since the competition changed its format in 1992, with Los Blancos rarely having to get out of second gear in the opening rounds.

But complacency will not be tolerated at the Bernabeu and Madrid could still be in for a tricky draw, given that they line up in pot two.

Jude Bellingham, Nacho Fernandez, David AlabaJude Bellingham, Nacho Fernandez, David Alaba

Real Madrid will be aiming for a 15th Champions League title / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/GettyImages

Real Madrid are not used to being in pot two for the Champions League group stage draw. Los Blancos often sit in pot one, but they have surrendered their position to La Liga champions and rivals Barcelona. The place in pot one for the European champions, meanwhile, belongs to Manchester City.

This doesn’t mean it necessarily has to be a tough draw for the side from the capital though. In fact, if Madrid are lucky enough to draw Feyenoord, they will arguably face the easiest side from either pot one or two.

Arne Slot’s Dutch champions have reached the Europa League quarter-final and Europa Conference League final in the past two season, losing to Roma on both occasions. However, they have only featured in the Champions League group stages once in the past 21 seasons.

From pot three, Madrid will be hoping for either Red Star Belgrade or Braga. The Serbian capital promises to be a pressure cooker atmosphere, meaning a scenic trip to Braga in Portugal may be the preferable choice.

There are still teams yet to qualify for pot three and four with the final round of qualifying matches being played on Wednesday 30 August. Out of those currently confirmed in a specific pot, Celtic would probably be the simplest team to negotiate, especially considering Madrid beat them home and away in the group stage last campaign.





Real Madrid







Jude BellinghamJude Bellingham

Madrid could face a tough draw in pot two / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Undoubtedly, another pair of European clashes with last season’s Champions League victors Manchester City would be the toughest test for Los Blancos, or any team for that matter.

The Sky Blues sit in pot one among the likes of Bayern Munich, Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain, all of whom would cause problems for Madrid. However, Ancelotti’s side are guaranteed to avoid Sevilla and Barcelona from pot one because they can’t face another Spanish team at this stage.

Madrid will want to avoid the Italian sides, with AC Milan and Lazio comfortably the strongest in pot three. However, Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio did finish two places above Milan last season in Serie A and, despite a poor start to the season, will be looking forward to only their second Champions League group stage since the 2007/08 season.

Out of the confirmed pot four teams, and considering Real Sociedad and Newcastle couldn’t be drawn against Madrid in this theoretical group, Union Berlin would be the next toughest test. Urs Fischer’s side finished fourth in the Bundesliga last campaign, while also already sitting top of the table on goal difference two matches into this season.

Real Madrid’s nightmare group



Manchester City


Real Madrid




Union Berlin



On this edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders is joined by Toby Cudworth and Graeme Bailey to discuss Man Utd’s links to Marc Cucurella and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Romelu Lukaku’s impending exit from Chelsea, West Ham’s attempts to revive a deal for Harry Maguire & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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