Manchester United ensured that they'd remain the Champions League's leading qualifier heading into the knockout phase with a 1-1 draw away to Roma.
Alex Ferguson's decision to rest key players ahead of a Super Sunday clash with Liverpool paid off, as the youngsters who filled in did a very good job containing a full-strength Roma side.
Players like Jonny Evans, Gerard Pique, Chris Eagles, Danny Simpson, and Dong Fangzhuo will no doubt benefit greatly from the experience of playing in front of a hostile crowd.
With a healthy side apart from Gary Neville, United should be greatly feared by their prospective Champions League foes. Making the semifinals last season was a huge achievement for a young team—and there was no shame in losing to Milan, who went on to win the tournament.
United were hurt by injuries in the late stages of last year's Champions League campaign. This year, they know that players like Pique, Evans, Nani, and Anderson can all fill in in a pinch.
Hell, we should even try playing Pique up front, given his gaudy goal-scoring ratio in Champions League play.
All told, the squad look poised to build on last year's performance. Of course, there will be the likes of Milan, Barcelona, Inter, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Real Madrid to contend with, but the Red Devils have enough talent to see off all of them.
Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo have another year of experience under their belts. Carlos Tevez adds a new dimension to United's attack. And Paul Scholes' stability, vision, and leadership in the midfield continue to set the pace for the club.
It should come as no shock when I say that Scholes' health will be essential to Ferguson's pursuit of another European title.
I'd imagine that most clubs are praying not be drawn with United. The only thing that scares me is my gut feeling that a championship might leave Fergie contemplating retirement.
It's no secret that he's desperate to win—and he may feel that a victory amounts to icing on the cake.
In any event, if I were a punter (which I am), I'd make a quick trip down to the bookie to lay a bet on the Red Devils. There's a very good chance a profit might be made.