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Liverpool facing Champions League struggle

Dale Johnson | ESPNFC
May 19, 2014 « Mourinho leads Van Gaal praise | Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »
The form of Luis Suarez this season propelled Liverpool back into the Champions League © Getty Images
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Liverpool will be hoping for a favourable draw in next season's Champions League group stage, and will need lady luck on their side as ESPN can reveal they are now certain to be in the third pot of seeds.

Results over the weekend, which saw CSKA Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg qualify for the Champions League at the expense of Lokomotiv Moscow, extinguished Liverpool's faint hopes of being elevated into the second pot for the draw on August 29.

Even if Lokomotiv had qualified, Liverpool would still have required an unlikely set of results with all playoff seeds losing in order to propel them up a pot.

Manchester City recorded their highest UEFA coefficient score last season in reaching the Round of 16 in the Champions League before exiting to Barcelona. But, with UEFA's club ranking based on European performance over a five-year period, they have now lost the points they gained from reaching the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup in 2008-09.

It means City will be grateful for the domestic failure of European powerhouses such as Manchester United, AC Milan and Inter Milan - as that gives them the very last spot in pot 2.

Liverpool and City will definitely be drawn against one of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Benfica, Atletico Madrid or FC Porto, so will likely hope their opponents are Portuguese. Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are certain to be in pot 2, as will Borussia Dortmund barring disaster for both Arsenal and Porto in the playoffs.

Just as in past seasons, pot 4 will have a sting in the tail for a couple of groups as it features both AS Roma and AS Monaco - runners-up to worthy domestic champions in Juve and PSG.

Arsenal, Porto, Bayer Leverkusen and Napoli will be seeded in the non-champions route playoffs, along with Zenit St Petersburg if they come through the third qualifying round. Athletic Bilbao, Lille and FC Copenhagen are among the teams the seeds could face for a place in the group stage. But Bilbao will definitely be in pot 3 if they qualify as the La Liga club will have to beat a seeded team to get through, which will elevate them from the bottom pot.

Liverpool
Favourable draw: Porto, FC Basel, Champions route play-off winner Unforgiving draw: Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Roma

Man City
Favourable draw: Porto, Olympiakos, Champions route playoff winner Unforgiving draw: Real Madrid, Napoli, Monaco

Arsenal and Chelsea
Favourable draw: FC Basel, Olympiakos, Champions route playoff winner Unforgiving draw: Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Monaco

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW POTS
* Team in play-offs. Should this team fail to qualify for the group stage the others below would move up a position. So for instance if FC Porto fail to qualify then Schalke would move into pot 1, and therefore Leverkusen into pot 2.

Pot 1

Real Madrid
Barcelona
Bayern Munich
Chelsea
Benfica
Atletico Madrid
Arsenal *
FC Porto *

Pot 2

Schalke
Borussia Dortmund
Juventus
Paris Saint-Germain
Shakhtar Donetsk
FC Basel
Zenit St Petersburg *
Man City

Pot 3

Bayer Leverkusen *
Olympiakos
CSKA Moscow
Ajax
Napoli *
Liverpool
Sporting Lisbon
Galatasaray

Pot 4

Anderlecht
AS Roma
AS Monaco

There is far more uncertainty over this pot, though Anderlecht, AS Roma and AS Monaco will all feature. Athletic Bilbao, Salzburg, Lille, FC Copenhagen, Steaua Bucharest, APOEL, Standard Liege, Celtic and BATE Barisov are among the main teams to feature in the play-offs.

This article first appeared on ESPNFC

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