Date: 11th December 2008 at 5:10pm
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Champions League group stages have been concluded and we do not have to worry about the competition until February – but only after knowing the results of the draw that will take place next Friday.

United finished top of their group which means that we are to play a second-placed, non-English team. The possible candidates are: Internazionale Milano, Sporting Lisboa, Atlético Madrid, Olympique Lyon and Real Madrid.

Inter: Jose Mourinho’s team will surely ease to another Serie A title but have a very suspect defence – though their injured players will probably be back by the time of the 1st knockout round. They have a good but not very frightening array of players, with the outstanding Zlatan Ibrahimovic who, despite his obvious class, has never delivered at the business end of the Champions League.

Sporting Lisboa: Well, we know them quite well due to close relations and two games in last season’s group stages. Two resounding loss to Barcelona showed they are quite far behind the best teams and probably the weakest side, along with Panathinaikos, to advance to the last 16. Very vulnerable away from home.

Atlético Madrid: With a strike partnership of Forlán and Agüero they are certainly a formidable side though the defence, especially Tomas Ujfalusi, has been heavily criticised. Robbed at Anfield by Gerrard’s blatant dive, they really should have won their group.

Olympique Lyon: Getting weaker every year. Benzema is still holding them up but they are another of those sides which could do with defensive reinforcements – and the midfield is nowhere near as impressive as three years ago. United knocked them out last season of course.

Real Madrid: They are a shambles right now, with tons of injuries, a horrible defence and problems up front. However, Juande Ramos could sort them out if he rediscovers the magic touch that made him a very respected manager at Sevilla. However, if he performs to his Spurs standards… Might be interesting how Klaas-Jan Huntelaar fares at the first truly big club of his career.

So, make your choice. I want Sporting yet I have a sneaky feeling that we’ll get Real Madrid while Chelsea will be drawn Barcelona and Arsenal will face Bayern. But who knows?