UEFA performed its 2010-2011 Champions League group stage draw and it appears that dynamics have been pushed aside for potential parity.
The only real head scratching came during the intervals between the actual pulling of the lil soccer balls which gave us this year's groups:
1. Hey, guys, way to go out on a limb on the alleged Players of the Year. All Inter players. Really? Seriously? Wow. Ballsy picks considering Inter won the title. Yeah, Messi should not have been named for anything.
2. Change your slotting rules. Who cares if AC Milan was good over three years and AS Roma was only sorta good. Last year AS Roma trumped Milan and needs to be rewarded. Same as Ligue 1 champs Marseille. Who cares about history. Now needs to be rewarded not the then. Based on that logic we should turn the global economy back over to Italy...550 years of world rule trumps all.
Now the GROUP STAGE Predictions
1. Internazionale (Italy); 2. Tottenham Hotspur (England); 3. Werder Bremen (Germany); 4. FC Twente (Holland).
Benitez has the talent and the managing experience at this stage; Hotspur is deep and believing; Werder is lacking the defensive fortitude to go on a run; Twente lost the man who got them there, ouch.
1. Lyon (France); 2. FC Schalke 04 (Germany); 3. Benfica (Portugal); 4. Hapoel Tel-Aviv (Israel).
Lyon is playing well and may be adding more to their arsenal; Felix is such a good manager who can't see him pulling Schalke through?; Benfica is a nice team but may not have the depth; any non-Anti Semite would want to cheer on Hapoel TA just because the story is so great.
1. Manchester United (England); 2. Bursaspor (Turkey); 3. Valencia (Spain); 4. Rangers (Scotland).
Man U gets the weakest draw ever created and will roll; Bursaspor takes advantage of the group's question marks and their determination; Valencia has lost too much; Rangers can't score if the goal was left open with no goalie.
1. Barcelona (Spain); 2. Rubin Kazan (Russia); 3. Panathinaikos (Greece); 4. FC Kobenhavn (Denmark).
Barca faces a Man U scenario of easy pickings; Rubin takes it's past experience into the group stage; Greek champs don't have enough; Kobenhavn's back line making even earning a point questionable.
1. AS Roma (Italy); 2. Bayern Munchen (Germany); 3. CFR 1907 Cluj (Romania); 4. FC Basel 1893 (Switzerland).
Open group and if Roma can keep its mind off financial issues they could win it; Bayern will cruise to the elimination rounds despite worrying more about the domestic title; Cluj could be a big Cinderella if Roma or Bayern slip; Basel has less spice than Basil.
1. Chelsea (England); 2. Spartak Moscow (Russia); 3. Marseilles (France); 4. MSK Zilina (Slovakia).
Chelsea has some interesting travel plans and too much firepower to be deterred; Spartak will show why the Russian league is one of the better ones around; Marseilles has too many issues right now and may be coming off their high; Zilina? Isn't that some foo-foo drink?
1. Real Madrid (Spain), 2. AFC Ajax (Holland); 3. AC Milan (Italy); 4. AJ Auxerre (France).
By far the deepest group and Real will win behind Jose and a rejuvenated and irritated Round of 16-phobia squad; Ajax can score and defend where need be and Jol is a master; AC Milan is too old and too questionable; Auxerre is a fun team to watch with nothing to lose.
1. Shakhtar Donestsk (Ukraine); 2. Arsenal (England); 3. SC Braga (Portugal); 4. FC Partizan (Serbia).
The most intriguing group of all of them. Donetsk has won in Europe (Europa League 2009) and have a tough home environment; Arsenal will aim for Barclay's glory and leave it short; Braga is the wildcard despite their first ever trip they do have the determination to advance; Partizan will be the best fourth-place team in the group stage.