Hello dear friends and welcome to Monaco.
I say welcome to Monaco, but I mean that in a more figurative sense as I am, in fact, sat 22 floors up in Canary Wharf, gazing across London’s sun-mottled edifices.
It’s Champions League draw day, which is all fairly exciting if you’re a fan of one of the four-strong English contingent, or a Celtic aficionado.
Otherwise, some might say it’s simply another chance to remind the have-nots really how much they haven’t got, but that’s probably a debate for a different live blog.
Nobody wants to piss on Gianni Infantino’s chips after all.
And so, before it all gets truly underway allow us to drop you a wee reminder about the possibilities here.
Our man in Manchester, David McDonnell, wrote last night that now would be the time Manchester City’s Champions League nightmare last year came back to haunt them – and looking at the potential groups it is hard to argue.
Being in pot three means it will make it incredibly hard for them once again to qualify for the knockout stages, something they have never done.
on Man City’s strife.
THE CHAAAAAMPIAAHHHHNS! Sky Sports News’ coverage has begun.
That’s 22 minutes after ours so 1-0 Mirror.
Oh, in vaguely Champions League news, Chelsea have just announced a strengthening to their squad ahead of the draw.
We are delighted to announce the signing of Samuel Eto'o…
— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc)
One of our summer signings, Welsh wizard Richard Beech, has whipped up
Manchester United have had some fairly easy rides through the group draw in recent years, and we make the most favourable result for them to be:
Manchester United (or Arsenal/Chelsea for that matter)MarseilleOlympiakosAustria Vienna
If you’re a fan of any of the latter three clubs and are desperately offended by your inclusion then please direct all complaints to email@example.com – thanks.
Crikey, what is this ‘reasoned debate’ I see before me?
Someone on Twitter has just asked us the following question:
We can argue over UEFA's coefficient system all we want but do we have a better alternative?
— Miracle *August 30* (@gudboi_)
I can’t think of a better way of doing it, so if you do have any suggestions for a better method of ranking sides then please let us know, I’ll bounce it around the office and see what we get.
Perhaps they just make it a free-for-all and chuck 32 balls in a bucket?
But I suppose then if you got three English teams in a group then it would be a bit of a snorefest.
Hmmm, send us your thoughts @MirrorFootball
TONS of responses to that debate! Here are some of the best:
it's the CHAMPIONS league. If you are a league CHAMPION you should be seeded higher than those that aren't. (and i'm a Gooner)
— Benji Crossley (@bopman1)
32 in the same pot & just pick them. No seeds. Old school.
— Alex Richards (@AA_Richards)
position basis? League winners in pot 1, second place for pot 2. And so on
— Hvb (@HvbTweet)
I think the following is a very good point:
co-efficients are fine, it'll level itself out eventually, just lots of volatility with big teams at the moment
— Bob Bamber (@BobbyBamber)
But what I’d add to that is that it’s the nouveau riche (apologies for the phrase) who are experiencing the most problems.
For example, when Monaco inevitably qualify for the Champions League next season they’ll be in Pot 4.
That will be an absolutely horrendous surprise for one group who could find themselves up against the most expensively-assembled team ever.
Clubs like Borussia Dortmund who have built gradually and organically are still feeling their way into the reckoning in Europe, but being drawn in a low Pot makes it harder for them to progress, ergo it makes it harder for them to get a better coefficient and earn the money to improve.
A vicious cycle, if you will.
And the most pertinent of arguments from the Telegraph’s Jonathan Liew here:
Very simple. Weight recent performances more heavily. Werder Bremen still top 32 despite not qualifying for Europe since 2010.
— Jonathan Liew (@jonathanliew)
Not long until draw time now.
I say draw time, what I mean is it’s not long until they begin the tedious pre-draw explanations and flattery but we’re actually quite a way off the balls being saved from their spherical perspex hell.
Oh yeah, and I heard a rumour Cristiano Ronaldo is NOT in Monaco today.
He is up for an award after the draw, so obviously doesn’t want to be pictured all sour-faced after Messi beats him to an award… again.
I’m strongly in favour of this suggestion from our man Iain Macintosh:
Can we elect just one person to tweet the CL draw so that our timelines don't explode with team names? I vote , he's never busy.
— Iain Macintosh (@iainmacintosh)
This is a handy little picture.
It quite clearly shows the six teams you don’t want to draw in terms of travel difficulties.
The atmosphere also tends to be pretty feisty there too.
NOW PLAYING: Cringing montage scene with Lionel Messi doing stuff (we’re not really sure what).
And here are our hosts!
The delightful Melanie Winiger (me neither) and the Yanko-European voice of Pedro Pinto are our hosts for the afternoon/evening.
I’m sure their jovial manners will cut right through the tedium.
Oh look, a montage!
It’s impossible to watch any unintentionally funny montage without due reference to the ultimate takedown.