World Soccer views and news
Champions League kicks off but is there only one winner?
The easy answer is no.
They were so strong last season that even the final against a good Manchester United side was a stroll.
This term Pep Guardiola’s men have strengthened, if that was possible, with the additions of Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez so it is hard to look past them and their silky skills.
But, no team has successfully defended a Champions League title so there is hope for the rest.
United have added youth to their mix and look Barca’s only proper rivals again unless Jose Mourinho can work his European Cup magic at Real Madrid.
After all, it only took him two seasons to win the Champions League with an overachieving Inter Milan side.
The current Inter lineup is a pale shadow of the 2010 version and the fact new signing Diego Forlan cannot play in the group stage after bosses did not realise he was cup-tied sums up the state of affairs at the San Siro.
Fellow tenants AC Milan will be the strongest Italian challengers but they still do not have enough to trouble the really big boys.
Arsenal are in transition, Chelsea look too old but new boss Andre Villas Boas will be desperate to finally break their Champions League duck given how owner Roman Abramovich treated coach Carlo Ancelotti last term.
Debutants Manchester City and Napoli will enjoy themselves and it is impossible to predict how far City’s vast array of attacking talent will propel them but their perhaps questionable defence will be tested like never before.
Olympique Lyon have long since been top dogs in France so European success is unlikely while Ligue 1 champions Lille are just happy to be in the group stage.
You can never count out Bayern Munich and German champions Borussia Dortmund, winners in 1997 remember, could be the real dark horses with their stylish, youthful exuberance.
A cheeky bet on Dortmund making the semi-finals could be the best money you spend all year.