Champions League draw on Monaco agenda
At beachside venues in ritzy Monaco, the biggest names in European football will gather this week to shape high-class games and high-stakes politics.
The annual draw for the group stage of the Champions League is also a talking shop for issues on the European and world stage, including presidential elections.
A look at the two-day gathering starting in Monaco:
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW
The main business in Monaco tomorrow is the first Champions League draw using an entry system that gives four places to each of the big four leagues.
Teams from Spain, England, Italy and Germany now skip the play-off round in August and comprise half of the 32-team line-up being drawn into eight groups. Last season, the four countries had 11 guaranteed places and could add four more in play-offs.
The new format, which should remain through 2024, was decided in Monaco two years ago.
Back then, it seemed like a gift to Italy after Serie A's third-place team often lost its playoff. Now, a revived Italy are third in the rankings above Germany, which has not had a team in a Champions League or Europa League final since 2013.
Inter Milan the 2010 Champions League winners who last played in the group stage seven years ago are a tough draw option in the pot of fourth-seeded teams.
The obvious underdogs in the pot of top-seeded teams defending champions Real Madrid, Europa League winners Atletico Madrid, plus champions of Europe's six highest-ranked leagues are Lokomotiv Moscow, who are ending a 15-year absence from the elite stage.
The Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid will host the final on June 1.
UEFA PLAYER AWARD
The Champions League draw ceremony is a gala affair allowing UEFA to present its awards for last season.
Either Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric or Mohamed Salah will be named the best player in Europe after a vote by Champions League coaches and selected media.
The best goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward from the 2017-18 Champions League will also be honoured.
A three-player shortlist for the best women's player features Pernille Harder, Ada Hegerberg and Amandine Henry.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has been nominated for re-election ahead of meeting international media on Friday.
The session is not an official campaign launch for the Slovenian lawyer who is expected to win on February 7 when 55 UEFA member federations meet in Rome.