Predictions are here.
I don't know whether it is just me, but it strikes me that the balance of power in European football is shifting very slightly. Well, not even shifting, but that the standard is levelling out a bit.
Yesterdays Champions League draw whilst containing most of the usual suspects struck me as having a few more unlikely/different teams than in previous years. Levski Sofia, Werder Bremen, Spartak Moscow, Bordeaux, Shakhtar Donetsk, Steaua Bucharest, Hamburg, FC Copenhagen and CSKA Moscow. Clearly some of these have played in the tournament before, but I just think it makes the whole competition more interesting to have a greater selection of different teams than watching the same old sides year in year out.
Looking at todays UEFA Cup draw, I just love how exotic European football is. For any football fan there is something romantic about the names of these famous, historic far flung clubs all setting off in a continent wide competition. I think my favourite tie is Atvidabergs FF v Grasshopper-Club closely followed by AS Livorno Calcio v SV Pasching (incidentally, the story of Swedish minnows Atvidabergs is here). The names just seem to conjur up the randomness and vague familiarity that I love about European competition.
Clearly no-one will bother to turn out and watch, like every other season, but good luck to one and all. Particularly to Derry City who drew the mighty Paris St Germain out of the hat today. And to FC Metalurg Zaporizhzhya who have possibly the best, least pronouncable and most-useful-in-Scrabble name of them all. (The full draw is here and thanks to Paul for the link.)