Group A: Liverpool, Porto, Marseille, Besiktas
The Reds are renowned for their superb form in the Champions League, even if they've underachieved in the Premiership.
They came out winners in 2005, and lost to Milan in the final last season. What can they expect this year?
The club will probably hit the top of a weak group. The inspirational leadership of Steven Gerrard will be very, very crucial to Liverpool's destiny.
Having won the UCL back in 2004, Porto are not on unfamiliar ground.
Unfortunately, the club is without magic coach Jose Mourinho, and is also missing star player Deco.
Look for Ricardo Quaresma to be an indispensable player in this tournament; the 23-year-old winger will use his speed to make a huge impact. Porto can hope for a second-place finish, but I doubt they can do better than that.
A powerhouse in Ligue 1, Marseille will make some impact on the European stage.
Compared to the 1993 championship club, though, today's team is something of a flop.
Marseille once boasted the likes of Eric Cantona, William Gallas, Robert Pires, Fabien Barthez, and, of course, Franck Ribery. Now, they rely on the attacking abilities of Djbril Cisse and the pace of Samir Nasri.
Not to be pessimistic, but I don't see Marseille clearing the Round of 16 this year.
Although a household name in Turkey, Besiktas are just fairly new in the Champions League.
The club can only hope to gain some experience here and give it their best shot.
One player I admire in Besiktas is the Brazilian Richardinho; if any of the Boro fans remember, he had a short spell with the club.
That sums up my prediction for Group A: Liverpool and FC Porto will advance. Comments agreeing or disagreeing with my viewpoint are welcome. Thanks a bunch.
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