The whole of Europe is on tenterhooks, eagerly awaiting the big kick-off. On 18 September the UEFA Champions League group stage gets underway again with the continent's finest sides battling it out for the biggest prize in European club football. Even the preliminary round provided some classic confrontations and the games are so finely balanced that plenty of surprises could be in store. In the latest FIFA.com poll, it is 2005/06 winners Barcelona who users see as the prime candidates for a shock early exit.
Some 32.83 percent of users thought that the Catalan giants, who added Thierry Henry to their star-studded ranks during the summer, had been handed the hardest draw. And there is little doubt that the La Liga heavyweights, having succumbed to five-time winners Liverpool in last season's quarter-finals, can expect few favours from Group E opponents Lyon, Stuttgart and Rangers.
Milan edge United and Real
French-speakers with 41.38 percent, Spanish-speakers with 47.72 percent and German-speaking users with 41.09 percent all thought the Blaugrana faced the toughest task, whereas some 31.24 percent of voters on the English-language site said AC Milan had the trickiest draw. The reigning champions came in second on 26.12 percent in the overall poll, having drawn Celtic, Benfica and Shakhtar Donetsk in Group D.
The Rossoneri are followed in the voting by English league champions Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson's team polled 16.1 percent of the votes and are set to clash with Roma, Sporting and Dynamo Kiev in Group F. Places four and five are filled by Real Madrid and Liverpool on 14.33 percent and 10.63 percent respectively. While the Merengues appear favourites to emerge from a Group C that pits them against Olympiacos, Werder Bremen and Lazio, the Reds face 2003/04 winners FC Porto, Besiktas and Marseille. Given the calibre of teams involved, the road to the knockout phase could prove treacherous for even the most heavily favoured sides.
Make your vote count!
The FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007 is still underway, and hot favourites Spain have proved many pundits right by going all the way to the Final. Which leads us to the next FIFA.com poll: do you think Spain will conquer the world or will Nigeria emerge triumphant? Every vote counts as we keep track of the latest opinions and trends sweeping the beautiful game.