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May 13, 2013

Man City face another tough draw

Manchester City's dismal performance in the Champions League is set to cost them dear in the draw for next season's group stage.

Roberto Mancini failed to win a single match in the competition, finishing bottom of a tough group featuring Ajax, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid, meaning City were unable to improve their UEFA coefficient score. They are now highly likely to drop from the second pot of seeds to the third pot.

City could face a difficult draw for the third season running with Barcelona or Bayern Munich from pot one and Juventus, AC Milan or Paris Saint-Germain from pot two being possible opponents.

City's score of 10.228 this season ranks them 45th and is lower than that achieved by Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Metalist Kharkiv and Genk. Birmingham City, playing in the Europa League as a Championship club, almost matched City's score last season with 10.050. Just one win in the Champions League group stage would almost certainly have secured a place in pot two.

And if City do not perform in Europe next season their plight will only get worse in 2014-15. UEFA rankings are based on a five-year period, and in 12 months' time City will lose their score of 20.000 from 2008-09 when they lost to Hamburg in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup. They must at least equal that next season just to keep the same total.

Of the 21 teams ranked higher than City, 14 are guaranteed a place in the Champions League next season. Of the other seven clubs, five can still qualify and four are currently in a Champions League place.

Valencia are fourth in La Liga but Real Sociedad (ranked lower than City) can overtake them on Monday night when they play their game in hand against Granada. Lyon lost at home to PSG on Sunday night but have a three-point cushion in a Champions League place, Milan have a two-point lead over Fiorentina and Schalke are a point in front of Freiburg (the two sides meet in the final game on Saturday).

Arsenal are the only club not currently in a Champions League place but they can move back into fourth by winning their extra match against Wigan on Tuesday.

City have to hope four of those five sides fail to make it into the Champions League proper - either via the league or losing in August's play-off round (which they must all play in) - or they will be in the third pot. To complicate matters further, if Borussia Dortmund (ranked 31st) win the Champions League they are automatically the number one seeds, which will lift them from pot three to pot one and push all teams above them down a position.

PSG, Juventus and Zenit St Petersburg are the first three clubs in line to move up to the second pot of seeds should any of the higher ranked clubs fail to qualify, followed by City. Zenit must play a qualifying round.

Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Read Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United and FC Porto will be top seeds in the draw, joined by Arsenal if they qualify and Benfica. If Arsenal fail to qualify then either Valencia (if qualified) or Atletico Madrid will move into the top pot.

Of the teams able to qualify for the Champions League, the order of coefficient ranking is as follows:

• Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Read Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, FC Porto, Benfica
• Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Lyon, Shakhtar Donetsk, AC Milan, Schalke, Marseille, CSKA Moscow
• Paris Saint Germain, Juventus, Zenit St Petersburg, Manchester City

The only two teams ranked higher than City who cannot qualify for the Champions League are Inter Milan (7th) and Liverpool (17th).

• Twitter: @dalejohnsonESPN

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