Ahead of the Champions League group stage draw on Thursday, FFT's Chris Flanagan assesses the good and bad for the five British clubs involved
Pot One: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Leicester, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Benfica, PSG, CSKA Moscow
Pot Two: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, Manchester City, Sevilla, Porto, Napoli, Bayer Leverkusen
Pot Three: Basel, Tottenham, Dynamo Kiev, Lyon, Borussia Monchengladbach, PSV Eindhoven, Sporting, Club Brugge
Pot Four: Dinamo Zagreb, Rostov, Celtic, Monaco, FC Copenhagen, Besiktas, Legia Warsaw, Ludogorets Razgrad
Arsenal: best-case scenario
CSKA Moscow, Club Brugge, Ludogorets Razgrad
Arsenal are among the second seeds for the draw, so they'll automatically avoid Atletico Madrid and another clash with Borussia Dortmund.
Of the first seeds, CSKA Moscow look the weakest – they're only in Pot One this season following the recent rule change that sees the champions of Europe's top seven leagues automatically installed as top seeds, and striker Ahmed Musa has departed for Leicester. Benfica wouldn't be the worst option either.
The Gunners can't be drawn with Tottenham in Pot Three and most of the others look much of a muchness – perform to their capabilities and Arsenal shouldn't have too many problems. Potentially Club Brugge could be the weakest: they've qualified automatically as Belgian champions this season, but were battered 7-1 on aggregate by Manchester United in the qualifying round last season.
Of the clubs in Pot Four, Legia Warsaw will have the motivation of their first Champions League appearance for 20 years so Bulgarian side Ludogorets Razgrad, bottom of Liverpool's group two years ago, could be the preferred option.
Arsenal: worst-case scenario
Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven, Monaco
There are three obvious reasons why Arsenal will be keen to avoid Barcelona – Messi, Suarez and Neymar. Barça are the favourites to win the competition this season and the Gunners probably wouldn't want to be drawn with Real Madrid or Bayern Munich either.
PSV Eindhoven are arguably the most difficult of the options from Pot Three, having ousted Manchester United in the group stage last season and then taken eventual finalists Atletico Madrid to penalties in the last 16.
In Pot Four, Arsenal will be particularly keen to avoid Monaco after suffering a shock defeat to the Ligue 1 side in the last 16 two seasons ago, the year when they were finally supposed to make the quarter-finals. Tormentor-in-chief Yannick Carrasco has since departed but Radamel Falcao is back in the principality this term.
Tottenham: best-case scenario
CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen, Ludogorets Razgrad
Champions League returnees Tottenham are in Pot Three, but would be expected to progress to the last 16 with a draw as favourable as this. Again CSKA Moscow look the best option in Pot One – particularly as Benfica knocked Spurs out of the Europa League two years ago (most famous for Tim Sherwood and Jorge Jesus’s touchline tiff).
In Pot Two, Sevilla are largely unproven in the Champions League but are renowned European specialists, so Bayer Leverkusen might marginally be the favoured option having failed to get through the group stage last term.
Tottenham: worst-case scenario
Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Monaco
Spurs's chances of progression could well depend on who they draw in Pot Two, so Atletico Madrid look to be the ultimate nightmare draw. Borussia Dortmund wouldn't be good news either, having knocked them out of the Europa League last season, but Atleti's record of two Champions League finals in three years would make the Rojiblancos potentially the most formidable opponents.
Drawing Atletico in Pot Two would rule out Barcelona or Real Madrid in Pot One, as Spanish clubs can't be drawn together, but it would still leave Bayern Munich lurking as the real dangers.
Tottenham would face an uphill struggle to qualify if they landed themselves against both Bayern and Atletico: throw in Monaco from Pot Four and it really would be the Group of Death.
Leicester: best-case scenario
Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge, Ludogorets Razgrad
It will be intriguing to see quite how Leicester take to the Champions League in their debut season in the competition, and a favourable draw would do them no harm in their bid to adapt. The Foxes are in Pot One by virtue of their Premier League triumph last term, which will give them a fighting chance.
Again Bayer Leverkusen look the best of the options in Pot Two, while Leicester would also fancy their chances of beating Club Brugge from Pot Three and Ludogorets from No.4.
Leicester: worst-case scenario
Atletico Madrid, Dynamo Kiev, Monaco
What Leicester will be desperate to avoid is a similar experience to Blackburn Rovers, perhaps the only other club from outside the elite to win the Premier League title. Blackburn endured a miserable Champions League campaign in 1995/96, finishing bottom of a group containing Spartak Moscow, Legia Warsaw and Rosenborg.
Legia are one of the options in Pot Four for Leicester, but again Monaco look to be the club to avoid, as do Atletico Madrid in Pot Two. Two of the Foxes' three previous European campaigns ended at the hands of Atleti, in 1961 and 1997, the latter when they fell foul of French referee Remi Harrel who turned down three clear penalties and sent off Garry Parker for taking a quick free-kick. (He was dropped by UEFA for the rest of the season.)
Leicester's fortunes could potentially depend on how they do against the team from Pot Three, with PSV among the dangers together with Basel, who have pulled off a few shocks against English sides in the past. But perhaps the team the Foxes will least want to face is Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev, who reached the last 16 a year ago and may be well placed to take advantage of Leicester's lack of experience of playing in a vastly different environment in Eastern Europe.
Manchester City: best-case scenario
Benfica, Club Brugge, Ludogorets Razgrad
Given the way Manchester City have started the season under Pep Guardiola, they might well make easier work of the group stage this time around, and this draw would certainly help their chances.
There's little to choose between Benfica and CSKA Moscow in Pot One, but at least the former would be a fresh start for City, rather than another match against a CSKA side who surprisingly beat them at the Etihad two seasons ago. Guardiola's side would be expected to cruise past both Club Brugge in Pot Three and Ludogorets in Pot Four.
Manchester City: worst-case scenario
Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven, Monaco
An identical situation to fellow second seeds Arsenal here. City's record against Barcelona is not good – in fact, pretty much every club in the world's record against Barcelona is not good.
PSV could be the trickiest draw in Pot Three – City would feel more confident against Dynamo Kiev after their win over the Ukrainians in the last 16 last season – while Monaco again look the most dangerous side in Pot Four.
Celtic: best-case scenario
CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge
Celtic will be in Pot Four on their return to the Champions League after two seasons away, and they will have a real task on their hands to progress through the group.
The Bhoys wouldn't be entirely delighted to be drawn against Benfica after taking only one point from the Portuguese side in the group four seasons ago, so CSKA Moscow look the best option. Celtic beat city rivals Spartak Moscow home and away in that same group in 2012/13.
In Pot Two, Bayer Leverkusen would be tricky but not unbeatable, while Brendan Rodgers' men would fancy their chances against Club Brugge from Pot Three.
Celtic: worst-case scenario
Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Tottenham
A real horror show here, and the last thing Rodgers would want after failing to guide Liverpool through the group on his only other Champions League appearance two seasons ago.
The Bayern Munich-Atletico Madrid combination looks the worst from pots one and two, while Tottenham are comfortably the biggest dangers in Pot Three – although at least it would mean a reunion with former Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama, plus the intriguing prospect of Moussa Dembele versus Mousa Dembele.