Neymar denied Barcelona return in Champions League groups

Paris (AFP) – Neymar will be denied an immediate return to Barcelona when the Champions League draw is made in Monaco on Thursday.

Both his Paris Saint-Germain team and the Catalan giants he left earlier this month for a world record 222 million euros ($264m) have been placed in pot two — amongst the second seeds.

Reigning champions and Spanish title-holders Real Madrid head the pot of top seeds — the champions from the eight highest-ranked countries in the UEFA rankings.

England’s Chelsea, Germans Bayern Munich, Monaco of France’s Ligue 1, Portuguese giants Benfica, Serie A champions Juventus, Russians Spartak Moscow and Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine make up the rest of pot one.

But if anything, pot two looks even stronger with both Manchester clubs, Borussia Dormtund, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Porto in alongside PSG and Barca.

Dangerous sides including Tottenham Hotspur, Italian pair Napoli and Roma lurk in pot three along with Liverpool who joined them when they got past Hoffenheim on Wednesday evening.

Each outfit will be drawn into one of eight four-team groups where clubs from the same country are kept apart.

The draw will take place at 6pm (1600 GMT) in Monaco.

Pot 1:

Real Madrid (ESP/champions), Bayern Munich (GER), Juventus (ITA), Benfica (POR), Chelsea (ENG), Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR), Monaco (FRA), Spartak Moscow (RUS)

Pot 2:

Barcelona (ESP), Atletico Madrid (ESP), Paris Saint-Germain (FRA), Borussia Dortmund (GER), Sevilla (ESP), Manchester City (ENG), Porto (POR), Manchester United (ENG)

Pot 3:

Anderlecht (BEL), Basel (SUI), Besiktas (TUR), Napoli (ITA), Olympiakos (GRE), Roma (ITA), Tottenham (ENG), Liverpool (ENG)

Pot 4:

Celtic (SCO), Maribor (SLO), Feyenoord (NED), RB Leipzig (GER), Apoel Nicosia (CYP), Qarabag FK (AZE), Sporting Lisbon (POR), CSKA Moscow (RUS)

Group stage fixtures:

Matchday 1: September 12-13

Matchday 2: September 26-27

Matchday 3: October 17-18

Matchday 4: October 31-November 1

Matchday 5: November 21-22

Matchday 6: December 5-6

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