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Liverpool could face Chelsea

August 25, 2005 10:35 IST

European champions Liverpool were named among the top eight seeds for this season's Champions League and could face Chelsea in the same group when the draw is made for the Group Stage on Thursday.

Liverpool, who won the European title for the fifth time in May, had to begin the defence of their crown in the first qualifying round last month because they did not have automatic entry into the final stages of the tournament.

However, UEFA, who allowed Liverpool entry into the competition by a special ruling, did not give them what is known as "country protection" which prevents teams from the same country playing against each other in the opening phase of the final round which begins with the Group Stage.

As Liverpool are among the first seeds along with English rivals Arsenal and Manchester United while Chelsea are in the second group, the two could face each other. Liverpool beat Chelsea 1-0 on aggregate in last season's Champions League semi-finals on the way to winning the title in Istanbul.

Liverpool duly won their place in the last 32 on Tuesday when they knocked out CSKA Sofia 3-2 on aggregate in the third qualifying round and are joined in the top group of seeds by AC Milan, the team they beat on penalties in last season's final, Manchester United and Arsenal and former European champions Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich.

Chelsea, the English champions, are included in the second group of seeds.

The draw takes place in Monaco at 1400 GMT and will include five teams taking part in the later stages for the first time: Villarreal and Real Betis of Spain, Udinese of Italy, Thun of Switzerland and Artmedia Bratislava of Slovakia.

One team from each pot is placed in the same group making eight groups of four teams. The first two teams in each group then advance to the first knockout round of 16 teams.

The opening match days are on September 13 and 14 with the final in Paris next May.

The seedings:

Pot A

(Top seeds): Real Madrid (Spain); AC Milan (Italy); Barcelona (Spain); Liverpool (England); Manchester United (England); Inter Milan (Italy); Bayern Munich (Germany); Arsenal (England)

Pot B

Porto (Portugal); Juventus (Italy); PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands); Olympique Lyon (France); Panathinaikos (Greece); Chelsea (England); Villarreal (Spain); Ajax Amsterdam (Netherlands)

Pot C

Club Bruges (Belgium); Anderlecht (Belgium); Olympiakos (Greece); Schalke 04 (Germany); Sparta Prague (Czech Republic); Lille (France); Rangers (Scotland); Werder Bremen (Germany)

Pot D

Benfica (Portugal); Rosenborg Trondheim (Norway); Real Betis (Spain); Udinese (Italy); Fenerbahce (Turkey); Rapid Vienna (Austria); Thun (Switzerland); Artmedia Bratislava (Slovakia).

Mike Collett
Source: source
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