Today, a bunch of third round qualification matches are kicking off as UEFA pushes on towards the actual group stage draw on August 25. Our beloved Tottenham Hotspur are already qualified and just waiting to find out who they play. Between now and then, there’s any number of events that can happen to shape the final 32 teams.
Github, though, doesn’t want to wait for that. The company has created a Champions League Draw Simulator based upon the 32 teams that are currently listed as the strongest possibilities for qualification. It’s a fun toy to play around with and see what can be generated. Of course, I need to share with you a few of the simulations I’ve had.
That’s not bad. Benfica and Napoli are good sides, but they aren’t a nightmare draw especially with Gonzalo Higuain moving to Juventus. Celtic are bad and may not even get past Astana today in their second leg. English champions Leicester draw finalists Atletico Madrid, Lyon, and PSV, which wouldn’t be terrible for them if they can keep Riyad Mahrez around. Manchester City draw Juventus, Olympiakos, and Viktoria Plzen while Arsenal pull Bayern Munich, Shakhtar, and Nicosia. In this scenario, I wouldn’t be afraid to say three out of the four sides could move on.
Hmmm...this is either about the same or slightly worse. Spurs draw Benfica again but now have to deal with Atletico Madrid and Nicosia. It isn’t crazy to say they could advance given how Spurs played against Atletico in Australia, but it was preseason. Manchester City pull yet another nightmare by getting Real Madrid while Ajax and Viktoria Plzen are very beatable. Leicester gets "Europa Champions For Life" Sevilla, Lyon, and Sporting Lisbon. Arsenal get to deal with Messi and company while Shakhtar and Besiktas, while not the strongest sides, aren’t exactly fun trips to take.
Spurs draw a nightmare group with Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund while Nicosia would at least provide some relief. Leicester gets Porto, Lyon, and Besiktas while City get a lighter draw with CSKA Moscow, Villarreal, and PSV. Arsenal still manage to draw Barcelona while Ajax and Viktoria Plzen would make you believe that the Gunners would advance to the knockout rounds.
Remember, these teams aren’t final and neither are the pot placements. There is still an outside chance that Spurs could move up into Pot 2, but it’s a long shot as all of Manchester City, Porto, and Shakhtar would have to bow out in qualification to get that boost up. Pot 4 is what is truly the wild card group as we have no clue who is going to go through in these qualifications. There are some tricky teams that could sneak in and create some matchup problems.
For now, run some simulations and share with us what you come up with.