When is the Champions League group stage draw and what are the play-off fixtures?

The battle for the Champions League trophy is already underway (Picture: Getty Images)The Champions League group stages are right around the corner as the long and winding qualification process nears its end for another season.

Celtic suffered the heartache of falling at the third qualifying round on Tuesday night, but there is still one more set of fixtures before the group stages finally get underway.

12 teams are still to compete in the play-off round over the next two weeks to determine the final six teams that will enter the groups at the end of August.

Here is what is coming up in the Champions League…

Real Madrid have won the last three Champions Leagues (Picture: Getty Images)When is the play-off round and what are the fixtures?

The first legs are played on either 21 or 22 August and the second legs on 28 or 29 August.

Champions League Play-off round fixtures

Red Star Belgrade vs Red Bull Salzburg
BATE Borisov vss PSV Eindhoven
Young Boys vs Dinamo Zagreb
MOL Vidi vs AEK Athens
Benfica vs PAOK
Ajax vs Dynamo Kyiv

Can Liverpool go one step further than runners-up this season? (Picture: Getty)When is the Champions League group stage draw?

The draw for the group stages will take place on Thursday, 30 August in Monaco.

More: Football

What pots are each team in?

The only one confirmed is Pot One which includes the following teams: Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Lokomotiv Moscow.

Manchester United and Tottenham are going to be in Pot Two, but Liverpool are awaiting their fate as they may be Two or Three, depending on which teams qualify.

Confirmed for Pot Two are Borussia Dortmund, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Napoli and Roma, whilst in Pot Three are Schalke, Lyon, Monaco and CSKA Moscow.

In Pot Four are Club Brugge, Galatasaray, Inter Milan and Hoffenheim, whilst Valencia and Viktoria Plzen could be in three or four.

MORE: Simon Mignolet in talks to join Napoli, confirms goalkeeper’s agent

MORE: How much money have Celtic missed out on after early Champions League exit?

Champions League draw, fixtures, pots and when the groups stages start for 2018-19

Real Madrid won their third straight Champions League title last season (Picture: Getty Images)The new Premier League season is yet to start but qualification for the Champions League is underway as clubs from across the continent battle it out for a place in the group stages.

The very first preliminary rounds were played back on 26 June, making the Champions League an almost year-round competition.

Premier League clubs are yet to start their Champions League campaigns, but Celtic already have theirs well underway having come through two qualifying rounds.

Here is where we are up to in Europe’s premier competition and what we have coming up…

Sadio Mane scored for Liverpool in last season’s Champions League final (Picture: AP)Champions League Third Qualifying Round Fixtures

First legs

7 August

FC Astana vs Dinamo ZagrebFK Qarabag vs BATE BorisovMalmö FF vs MOL VidiSlavia Prague vs Dynamo KievStandard Liege vs AjaxRed Star Belgrade vs Spartak TrnavaBenfica vs Fenerbahçe

8 August

FC Red Bull Salzburg vs ShkendijaPAOK Salonika vs Spartak MoscowCeltic vs AEK Athens

Second legs

14 August

Dynamo Kiev vs Slavia PragueBATE Borisov vs FK QarabagSpartak Moscow vs PAOK SalonikaAEK Athens vs CelticDinamo Zagreb vs FC AstanaFenerbahçe vs BenficaMOL Vidi vs Malmö FFShkendija vs FC Red Bull SalzburgAjax vs Standard LiegeSpartak Trnava vs Red Star Belgrade

When is the play-off round and who is involved?

The 10 winners from the third qualifying round go into a play-off round where they are joined by PSV Eindhoven and Young Boys.

The draw will be made on 6 August and the fixtures will be played on 21/22 August and 28/29 August.

Can Premier League champions Manchester City challenge? (Picture: Getty Images)When is the draw for the group stage and when does it start?

The draw takes place on Thursday, 30 August in Monaco and the fixtures begin on 18 September.

Have the pots been decided?

The only one confirmed is Pot One which includes the following teams: Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Lokomotiv Moscow.

Manchester United and Tottenham are going to be in Pot Two, but Liverpool are awaiting their fate as they may be Two or Three, depending on which teams qualify.

Juventus are hoping Cristiano Ronaldo can lead them to glory (Picture: Getty Images)
When and where is the 2018-19 Champions League final?

The final takes place on 1 June 2019 at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid (the home of Atletico Madrid).

MORE: Paul Pogba keen to fill Andres Iniesta void as Barcelona prepare massive transfer offer

MORE: Toby Alderweireld to snub all other clubs in order to join Manchester United

Egypt boss hits back at Sergio Ramos over Mohamed Salah injury claims

Sergio Ramos claimed Mohamed Salah could have played on in the Champions League final (Picture: Getty)Egypt boss Hector Cuper has hit back at Sergio Ramos after he claimed Mohamed Salah could have played on in last month’s Champions League final.

Much was expected of Salah in Kiev last month after his record-breaking season at Anfield but he lasted just 30 minutes before leaving the field in tears.

The Egyptian superstar was dragged to the floor by defender Ramos and suffered a shoulder injury that has put his World Cup hopes in jeopardy.

More: Football

On Monday, Ramos claimed Salah could have played the second-half of the match if he received an injection, but Cuper has offered a sarcastic response to his comments.

‘I’m not a doctor, I don’t know if [Sergio] Ramos is a doctor, but it’s a player who is playing a final and has an injury,’ the Egypt head coach said.

‘I don’t have any doubt that if he could keep playing he would do it, because a Champions League final is extraordinary.’

Salah was injured after a collision with the Real Madrid defender (Picture: Getty)Following his summer move to Liverpool from Roma, Salah scored a staggering 45 goals in 54 appearances in all competitions.

His performances saw him break multiple Premier League records and be named the PFA Player of the Year at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

Egypt face Uruguay, Russia and Saudi Arabia in the group stages of the World Cup and Cuper remains hopeful that Salah will play some part.

Real stormed to a third successive Champions League title (Picture: Getty)More: Football

‘My opinion is that Salah has an important injury, there is a recovering [process] that we can see, and we are optimistic about the chances he has to play in the World Cup,’ he added.

‘We listen to many things, but the reality is that the doctors recover or confirm a problem in a player.’

MORE: Liverpool interested in signing Nigeria ace Moses Simon

Loris Karius suffered concussion from Sergio Ramos’ elbow in Champions League final

Loris Karius was in tears after Liverpool’s defeat in the Champions League final. (Getty Images)Loris Karius suffered a concussion during Liverpool’s defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

The 24-year-old was at fault for two of Madrid’s goals and offered a tearful apology to Liverpool fans immediately after the 3-1 loss in Kiev.

But subsequent footage showed that Karius was elbowed in the head by Sergio Ramos less than two minutes before his first mistake in which his throw was easily intercepted by Karim Benzema, who went on to open the scoring for Madrid.

The German was also at fault for Gareth Bale’s second goal as he failed to stop the Welshman’s long-range shot which was aimed straight at him.

Karius has since undergone tests at Massachusetts General Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Karius failed to keep out Bale’s long-range strike which was aimed straight at him. (Getty Images)More: Football

And Dr Ross Zafonte has confirmed that Karius did suffer concussion which may have had an impact on his performance.

‘After carefully reviewing game film and integrating a detailed history – including his reported present and immediate post-contact subjective symptoms – physical examination and objective metrics, we have concluded that Mr. Karius sustained a concussion during the match May 26, 2018,’ the statement read.

‘At the time of our evaluation, Mr. Karius’s principal residual symptoms and objective signs suggested that visual spatial dysfunction existed and likely occurred immediately following the event.

Karius suffered ‘spacial dysfunction’, according to doctors. (PA Wire)

Karius was consoled by Gareth Bale after the final whistle. (REX/Shutterstock)‘Additional symptomatic and objectively noted areas of dysfunction also persisted. It could be possible that such deficits would affect performance.

‘We also note that Mr. Karius has reported significant and steady improvement since the concussive event, and we expect him to make a full recovery based on the results of the examination.

‘We expect that with treatment and by following prescribed activity protocols he will continue to improve. We have encouraged vigilance and an emphasis on safety in his eventual return to full activity.’

More: Liverpool FC

Woman’s outrage at £90 Uber bill despite being warned 4.3x surge charge was in place

Jess Anson was shocked over the big bill (Picture: Liverpool Echo)A woman who booked an Uber during a surge of 4.3x the normal price has hit out at the £90 she was charged for the journey.

Jess Anson ordered the Uber at 1.30am in Liverpool city centre on the night that Liverpool FC played in the Champions League final on Saturday.

People’s reaction to Raheem Sterling’s tattoo ‘is racist’, says ex-gang memberBut despite being told the fare would be more than four times higher, she reacted with outrage.

She told the Liverpool Echo: ‘The journey usually takes about 27 minutes and I’ve never paid any more than about £30 but the receipt said £92.30.

‘I emailed the company straightaway to check everything was right and to complain about the surcharge from the night before.’

Jess’s Uber bill (Picture: Liverpool Echo)A surge happens when there is higher demand than normal.

In a breakdown of the costs, Jess’s journey would have cost her around £23, not including the tunnel toll.

But because of the surge, she was charged an extra £65.70 plus the £3.60 for the tunnel.

She continued: ‘I saw it said 4.3x but I didn’t fully understand what that meant and when you’ve had a couple of drinks you just want home so I accepted it.

‘I just thought it’d be another couple of pounds more but people must be getting caught out by this all the time.

My 27 minute taxi from Liverpool to Heswall cost me £92.20… ARE YOU FUCING MAD @Uber 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬
— Jess Anson (@jessanno) May 27, 2018

‘Who is going to stand and work out how much that is?’

When Jess contacted the company with her complaint they sent her a reply explaining why the surge was in place at the time.

Uber told her: ‘Your trip was taken at a time when there was high demand for rides near your pickup location.

‘When vehicle supply gets tight, we raise fares to make sure partner-drivers are available to respond to your ride request quickly. We refer to this is as dynamic pricing or surge pricing.

‘Please be assured that we always notify you when surge pricing is in effect.

The trip Jess took (Picture: Metro)‘The estimate you receive in-app before you request a trip will be inclusive of any dynamic pricing that may be in effect.

‘Additionally, prior the trip beginning, you will need to confirm the surge multiplier.

Group of women ‘identify as males for the day’ to go into men’s only lido‘While we know it can be frustrating to pay more than you expected, rest assured that the amount charged is correct given the surge multiplier that was confirmed in the app.’

Jess added: ‘I just want people to be careful when they are using the app and be aware of what they’re agreeing to before accepting the surge.’

Uber said they always inform customers about surge prices (Picture: PA)A spokesperson for Uber told Metro.co.uk: ‘Our app uses dynamic pricing to make sure that people can always get a car when they need it.

‘When large numbers of people in a specific area want a ride at the same time and there aren’t enough available cars, fares automatically rise to encourage more drivers to go to the busy area.

‘Users always see a fare estimate in advance so they have the choice to book a car, share the trip with others or wait until fares go down.’

MORE: Ariana Grande’s ex boyfriends from Mac Miller to Nathan Sykes as she gets cosy with Pete Davidson

MORE: Piers Morgan and BBC rival Dan Walker take swipes at each other over Raheem Sterling’s controversial gun tattoo

Liverpool fans claim Sergio Ramos ‘practiced’ arm grapple on Mohamed Salah a year ago

It’s not the first time the Real Madrid defender has committed the same foul (Picture: Getty)Sergio Ramos has been accused of ‘practising’ the arm grapple foul on Mohamed Salah that has put the Liverpool star’s World Cup dream in jeopardy in last year’s Champions League final.

The Egyptian – who scored 44 goals in all competitions this season, second only to Lionel Messi across Europe – was forced off after half-an-hour in Kiev on Saturday after being hauled to the ground by Ramos, injuring his shoulder.

Real quickly grabbed control of the final after Salah went off, eventually winning 3-1 to claim their third straight European title.

The Egyptian FA hope Salah will be back in between 10 days to three weeks (Picture: Getty)Ramos was a menace throughout Saturday’s match, also elbowing Loris Karius just moments before his first error, while he also feigned injury as Real looked to see out the victory.

Some fans – and former players too, such as ex Spurs striker Mido – felt the Spanish defender had deliberately and dangerously locked arms with Ramos, and now they have unearthed footage showing him use the same ‘technique’ before.

A year ago, in Real’s victorious Champions League final against Juventus, Ramos pulled Dani Alves down in virtually identical fashion, locking arms before landing on the Brazilian.

Fortunately for Alves – and unlike Salah – the then Juve defender managed to wrestle free his arm and avoided serious injury, though Ramos was nevertheless booked for his challenge.

Ramos faced off against Alves in last year’s Champions League final (Picture: Getty)Incredibly, even the European Judo Union weighed in on Ramos’ tackle on Salah and confirmed that the Waka-gatame arm lock, when used in unison with a throw, is an illegal move in the sport due to how dangerous it is.

Waki-gatame is a dangerous technique. That’s why it is not allowed in Judo to use for transition to ne-waza. What do you think about this foul yesterday evening in the #UCLFinal between #RMALIV? pic.twitter.com/mHmADyG7LB
— European Judo Union (@europeanjudo) May 27, 2018

Some fans of both Liverpool and Egypt are so annoyed that they set up a petition on change.org to punish Ramos for ‘intentionally’ hurting Salah; as of midday on Monday, it has over 330,000 signatures.

Ramos briefly touched on the controversy in a Twitter message to Salah, wishing him a speedy recovery: ‘Sometimes football shows you its good side and other times the bad. Above all, we are fellow pros. Get well soon Mo Salah.’

@nealcol @SergioRamos @MoSalah @MirrorDarren @LFC @Pharaohs @natespaulse Meaning Ramos had proper practice…. He h… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…— siyabonga___Ras (@siyabon40331590) May 28, 2018

@Tahrirawi @LFC @MoSalah @ChampionsLeague Practice makes perfect. Ramos is a pro now— 지 츄 (@jisoo_1995) May 28, 2018

An MMA fighting analyst dissects Ramos’s “takedown” on Salah. Far too many aspects of it are deliberate for my liking.
Can’t do anything about it now, but just goes to show what kind of a man he is. pic.twitter.com/8r2cBCOWuG
— LFC Podcasting Couch (@PodcastingCouch) May 27, 2018

@meshraw2010 @europeanjudo @LFC @MoSalah @ChampionsLeague That’s great clip showing it’s a technic Ramos practice o… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…— Chee Loon (@loonwhistling) May 27, 2018

Some say it wasn’t a purposeful foul on Sallah. From this angle and from everything I’ve seen. I think Ramos has rehearsed that move. I think he’s practiced exactly how to get the job done on Mo. pic.twitter.com/7b0nKbQ4IU
— Rick Houghton (@Hortini) May 27, 2018

You’re absolutely mad if you think Sergio Ramos didn’t mean to injure Salah, but you’re just as mad if you don’t want a nasty win at all cost shit house like him in your team.
— Josh Woogs (@JoshWoogs) May 28, 2018

More: Liverpool FC

Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini abused by Liverpool fans at Champions League final

Former Everton player Fellaini went to Kiev to watch the final (Picture: Getty)Marouane Fellaini was subjected to a verbal tirade from Liverpool fans as he made his way into Kiev’s Olimpiyskiy stadium for the Champions League final.

The Manchester United midfielder, who could leave the club this summer when his contract expires, travelled to Ukraine to watch Liverpool’s clash with Real Madrid, which the latter won 3-1 thanks to a brace from Gareth Bale.

But as former Evertonian Fellaini made his way into the stadium, he was surrounded by Liverpool fans who chanted ‘you Manc b******’ and other obscenities at him.

People saying “disgusting from lfc fans” when Fellaini arrived at the #UCL final last night……What so you saying you wouldn’t do the same to a Liverpool player?pic.twitter.com/bkCA15J1GJ
— UtdHQ_ (@UtdHQ_) May 27, 2018

Beyond Fellaini’s United ties, he also has an ongoing feud with Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, telling Sport/Voetball magazine: ‘How can someone like Carragher lecture me?

‘The guy who spat on a girl from his car after Manchester United versus Liverpool.

More: Football

‘You know, the critics help you progress, you end up working more, you want to show them they are wrong.’

A number of Liverpool supporters have criticised the conduct of the small group of fans who tried to intimidate Fellaini, especially in light of Eric Bailly’s message of support to Loris Karius.

The German goalkeeper made two mistakes in the final that ultimately cost Liverpool the Champions League, though he got an unexpected message of support to his emotional post on Instagram.

Bailly saw Karius’ message and replied: ‘Stay strong Loris, you are a good goalkeeper!’

More: Manchester United FC

Mark Lawrenson: Not one of the Liverpool players went to console Loris Karius

Loris Karius endured a nightmare in Kiev (Picture: EPA)Loris Karius was left to burden the blame by himself at the end of the game against Real Madrid, according to Mark Lawrenson.

The Liverpool goalkeeper made two costly errors in the game, gifting Real two goals and wrecking any hope the Reds had of an upset in the Champions League final.

Karius broke down in tears at the final whistle and looked distraught as goalkeeper coach John Achterberg ran over to pick his player up off the pitch.

More: Football

Lawrenson, who lifted five English titles with Liverpool as a player, pointed out on BBC radio that Karius was left to cry on his own.

He said: ‘Not one of the Liverpool outfield players has gone to the ‘keeper. That tells you all you need to know.

‘What on earth would you say to him? I mean I feel really, really sorry for him. The second error is worst than the first error. The second era is [one] we all would had saved.’

Karius collapsed at full-time (Picture: EPA)

He was picked up by a member of the coaching staff (Picture: EPA)Liverpool’s star men were gutted at the final whistle, especially after losing their talisman Mohamed Salah in the first half.

Salah injured his shoulder after getting tangled up with Sergio Ramos and was forced to depart the pitch.

The Egyptian was in tears as he exited the biggest game of his career, and Liverpool fans have reacted furiously to Ramos’ part in the injury.

Several Real Madrid players consoled Karius at full-time (Picture: PA)

(Picture: Reuters)Liverpool are now expected to step up their pursuit of a new goalkeeper, meaning Karius’ days as No.1 could be numbered.

Karius gifted Real the lead when he inexplicably threw the ball at Karim Benzema and then put the game beyond the Reds when he parried Gareth Bale’s effort into his own net to make it 3-1.

It was a cruel blow to Liverpool fans, who had been hoping the talents of their attacking line would be the deciding factor of the final.

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web
browser that
supports HTML5

Karius apologised to the fans in the stadium (Picture: AP)Despite the scenes at full-time, Liverpool’s players refused to blame Karius in their post-match interviews.

Centre-back Dejan Lovren and captain Jordan Henderson both insisted Liverpool won and lost together as a team.

More: Liverpool FC

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher consoles distraught Loris Karius after nightmare vs Real Madrid

Loris Karius broke down after the final whistle (Picture: UEFA)Loris Karius endured one of the worst games imaginable on the biggest stage in club football on Saturday night and the Liverpool goalkeeper broke down in tears at the final whistle.

Two howlers gifted Real Madrid two goals in a 3-1 victory and derailed any hope Liverpool had of beating the La Liga giants to Champions League glory.

Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale both benefited from Karius’ blunders and the German tearfully apologised to Liverpool fans on the pitch.

More: Football

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher was pitchside after the game and made a beeline for a distraught Karius as he walked down the tunnel.

Carragher put his arm around Karius and spoke into his ear as the stopper finally made his way off the pitch.

It was a touching moment from a man who won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005.

Karius gifted Real Madrid two goals (Picture: AP)

Karius was distraught (Picture: AFP)Karius has been heavily criticised on social media by Liverpool fans, who blame the 24-year-old for their side’s loss.

Liverpool lost talisman Mohamed Salah in the first half to a shoulder injury, but Sadio Mane’s goal in the 55th minute after Karius’ initial howler had got the Reds back into the game.

Karius had inexplicably thrown the ball straight at Benzema and the Frenchman gleefully deflected the ball into the goal to put Real ahead.

(Picture: EPA)

(Picture: EPA)Mane’s goal cancelled out the horrifying moment for Karius before a stunning overhead kick from substitute Bale restored Real’s lead.

Karius then parried Bale’s long-range effort into his own net to condemn Liverpool to defeat and hand Real their third Champions League title in a row.

Real are the first side in the Champions League era to win three consecutive European titles.

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web
browser that
supports HTML5

More: Liverpool FC

Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool & Spurs: Which Champions League pot will each club be in?

The group stage draw for 2018/19 will take place at the very end of August (Picture: Getty)With the curtain now having fallen on the season following Real Madrid’s third successive Champions League win, clubs can begin thinking about who they will play in next season’s competition.

Unlike previous years, all qualified clubs from the big four leagues – Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and Bundesliga – will go straight into the group stage, avoiding the play-offs entirely.

That means, even though Liverpool failed to win the Champions League and only finished fourth in the Premier League, they will still go straight into the group stages.

In total, 26 teams automatically qualify for the group stages – all of whom are now confirmed – and the pots are starting to take shape…


Pot 1

Real Madrid (162.000)Atletico Madrid (140.000)Barcelona (132.000)Bayern Munich (135.000)Juventus (126.000)PSG (109.000)Manchester City (100.000)Lokomotiv Moscow (22.500)

Pot 2

Borussia Dortmund (89.000)Porto (86.000)Manchester United (82.000)Shakhtar Donetsk (81.000)Benfica* (80.000)Napoli (78.000)Basel* (71.000)Tottenham (67.000)

Pot 3

Roma (64.000)Liverpool (62.000)Schalke (62.000)Lyon (59.500)Monaco (57.000)Salzburg* (55.500)CSKA Moscow (45.000)Ludogorets Razgrad* (37.000)

Pot 4

Valencia (36.000)PSV* (36.000)Viktoria Plzen (33.000)Celtic* (31.000)Club Brugge (29.500)Galatasaray (29.500)Inter Milan (16.000)Hoffenheim (14.285)

The champions’ pot (Pot 1) is now complete, with Madrid rivals Real and Atletico both seeded highest thanks to winning the Champions League and Europa League respectively.

Russian champions Lokomotiv Moscow – who many teams seeded in Pot 2 and below will be desperate to draw – are the third worst team in the competition according to their coefficient.

The six teams with an asterisks next to their name – Benfica, Basel, Salzburg, Ludogorets, PSV and Celtic – still need to come through the qualifying rounds, though are seeded, and their results could still alter the makeup of each pot.


If Liverpool had won the Champions League, they would have been in Pot 1 (Picture: Getty)Liverpool’s defeat in the final of the Champions League means Tottenham are guaranteed a spot in Pot 2 of the Champions League draw. Had the Reds beaten Real, however, they would have leapfrogged Spurs into Pot 1 and shunted them down the seeding order.

Instead, they will be in Pot 3 unless both Benfica and Basel fail to progress from the qualifying round, which is fairly unlikely; if only one team loses, then Roma will jump up thanks to their superior coefficient over Liverpool.

That means Jurgen Klopp’s side could face a potential group of death, for example: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and Inter Milan.


Incredibly, the preliminary round draw for the Champions League – which features teams from Andorra, San Marino, Gibraltar and Kosovo – takes place before the World Cup has even started, with matches scheduled in the middle of the tournament. The first qualifying round, which will involve Celtic, also overlaps with the World Cup, though the play-off proper is not until the end of August.

No Premier League clubs will have to worry about that, though, with all four sides going straight in the group stages. The draw for the group stage will take place on Thursday August 30th in Monaco, not the usual location of Nyon, with the first matches played in the middle of September.

More: Manchester United FC