UEFA have released the Champions League regulations for the 2015-2018 period and there are a few changes of certain importance. We already knew that the UEFA Europa League champion will qualify to the Champions League (at least, for the play-off preliminary phase) but, as of today, we have got to know something that could affect top teams like Real Madrid.
Precisely, the change affects the group stage draw. As usual, the thirty-two clubs involved in the group stage will be seeded into four groups of eight, but the criteria for this division will be different, as the first group will be formed by the current titleholder and the domestic champions of the seven top-ranked associations (which are Spain, England, Germany, Italy, Portugal, France and Russia for the 2015-2016 edition). In fact, if the titleholder is the domestic champion of one of those associations, the group will be completed with the domestic champion of the association ranked eight (Netherlands).
Therefore, at most one between Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Atlético de Madrid will be in the UEFA Champions League first group of seeds in the group stage draw, which means that the group stage will be harder for the other two than it has been recently.