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2008/9 UEFA Champions League draw review

The draw for the 2008/9 UEFA Champions League competition has been made and already there are some groups that look tough and some appetising fixtures to look forward to.

Its always good to see some new teams enter the competition because they bring with them an element of surprise and this year there are a number of new teams.

This time the top seeded teams were the four English teams Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal plus Lyon, Inter Milan and the Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.

In Group A, Chelsea and Roma seem to be in a good group and I expect those two to go forward to the next stage. In saying that I don't know a lot about CFR Cluj-Napoca but I think however good they may be they don't have the experience that Chelsea and Roma have in this competitition and if they do really well then maybe they can get the UEFA place ahead of Bordeaux.

Group B has another Champions League debutant in Anorthosis Famagusta who will be joined by Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan plus Werder Bremen and Panathinaikos.

I think Inter Milan will easily go to the next round as group winners and I see second place as likely to go Werder Bremen.

Mourinho has a lot of experience in this competition and I think he should be able to guide his team as winners in this group.

Groups C is another group with a clear favourite in Barcelona who will play against Sporting Lisbon, Basel and Shakhtar Donetsk. Basle makes a welcome return to the competition and I think second place is hard to call in this group. I will go with Sporting Lisbon because Shakhtar Donetsk has not impressed in recent seasons.

The toughest group could be group D where Liverpool will fight it out with Marseille, Atletico Madrid and PSV Eindhoven. This group was made tough by Atletico Madrid being in the fourth pot of seeds and yet I don't think they are the weakest team in this group.

I still think that if Liverpool gets itself sorted it should use its experience to negotiate its way out of this group but its hard to tell which team will join it in the next stage.

Apart from last season, PSV has been very good in this competition and Marseille played reasonably well last season but Atletico Madrid may lack experience but the team has very good players. For me that could be the difference.

So its a very tough group and if I had to choose which team I thought would make it to the next stage I think I will go with Atletico Madrid. Its interesting to see that Liverpool's Fernando Torres will face his former team and that should be an interesting match.

Group E brings together Celtic and defending champions Manchester United and Villareal could be the team that spoils it all in this group.

Celtic have a very good home record but I think they should start getting at least draws to sail comfortably in this group where I expect Man Utd to be too strong for the other teams in the group. It will be interesting to see what AaB Aalborg are made of.

After a one year absence Bayern Munich makes a return to the competition in Group F where its opponents will be Steaua Bucharest, Fiorentina and Lyon. This looks like another tough group comparable to Group D and I think the French champions Lyon will need to be at their best to come out of this group.

I think Fiorentina and Steaua Bucharest will battle for the UEFA place whilst Bayern Munich should progress to the next stage.

In Group G the deciding team should be Fenerbahce which could spoil the party for Arsenal and Porto. Last season Fenerbahce proceeded to the knock-out phase and they should be confident of doing the same this year whilst Dynamo Kiev has been a disappointment over the last few seasons.

Lastly but not least in Group H, former champions Real Madrid and Juventus clash but they will have to take care of Zenit St Petersburg if they are going to reach the next level.

Zenit St Petersburg are the current UEFA Cup holders and they surprised everybody with their great run last season in the UEFA Cup and if they were to have a similar run this season which I think they can we could see one of Real Madrid or Juventus not coming out of this group.

But once again it could end up being down to experience in the competition but I think this is one group that could produce some very interesting results.

I cant wait for the for the first round of fixtures and once again I will take part in the Champions League tipping competition on TipsChallenge.

These small teams haven't caused many upsets in the Champions League. Its the usual suspects who go through every time. The only team I think will cause an upset is Zenit. I could see by the way they played against Man U that that they are a very good team and can cause damage to both Juventus and Real Madrid.

I think you are right on Zenit - they are a very good team. In the end they didn't lose Arshavin and so they probably have a stronger team this year than the one they had last season and they should be able to challenge both Juve and Real.

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