Pablo Zabaleta hopes Manchester City find some luck in the Champions League draw, having made some significant improvement in the seeding this term.
The draw takes place at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, on Thursday, with 32 teams drawn into eight groups of four. No English Premier League teams will be drawn into the same group as each other.
City’s current UEFA co-efficient will have the champions in the pot of eight second seeds in the draw, which should hand Zabaleta and his team-mates an easier group than in the last two seasons.
Zabaleta said: “We know we are Manchester City and have a strong squad to play against the best teams in Europe so we will see the draw and this time if we have a little bit more luck than the last few years.”
City finished bottom of a “group of death” in the 2012-13 season against Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax, but managed to qualify last season, despite having to pit their wits against then-holders Bayern Munich.
“We were in the group of death and it has always been tough for us in Champions League – but it is a competition we are looking forward to and hopefully we can do better. The rest of the teams see Manchester City as a tough team to have in the group and I think that is the most important thing for us.”
Chelsea and Arsenal, who will have to win Turkish opponent, Besiktas, tonight to reach the Monaco draw, will be in the pot of eight top seeds. Liverpool among the third seeds. The West and North London (should they qualify) rivals are guaranteed of avoiding Europe’s heavyweight clubs like Real, Barcelona, Bayern or last season losing-finalists Atletico Madrid.
Liverpool, who are back in the Champions League following a four-year absence, are among the third seeds. They face the prospect of being drawn in as tough group and probably could come up against reigning champions Real Madrid, Italian side Roma, and big-spending Paris St-Germain.
As in previous seasons, the top two in each group will qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions League and the third-placed side go into the knock-out stages of the UEFA Europa League.