Football: Champions' League Guide

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KEY

* Seeded.

H Seeded as holders.

Q Qualifier.

2 Second in domestic league.

EC European Cup/Champions' League.

ECWC European Cup-Winners' Cup.

UEFA Uefa Cup/Fairs' Cup.

GROUP A

AJAX*

Best EC: Winners (4) 1971, '72, '73, '95. Also won: ECWC '87; UEFA '92.

Star players: Georgi Kinkladze, Jari Litmanen, Benni McCarthy.

Super league verdict: Not enough domestic viewers, but the name will pull in punters elsewhere. IN.

CROATIA ZAGREB (Q)

Best EC: 1R. Also won: UEFA '67.

Star: Robert Prosinecki.

SL verdict: Will have the players, but not the team. OUT.

OLYMPIAKOS (Q)

Best EC: 2R.

Star: Ilija Ivic.

SL verdict: Handy for the yacht, but sorry. OUT.

PORTO*

Best EC: Winners '87.

Stars: Jardel, Rui Barros.

SL verdict: Wealthy, decent TV audience, some pedigree. BORDERLINE.

GROUP B

ATHLETIC BILBAO (Q2)

Best EC: QF '57.

Stars: Julen Guerrero, Joseba Etxeberria.

SL verdict: Big with Basques, not elsewhere. OUT.

GALATASARAY (Q)

Best EC: SF '89.

Stars: Gheorghe Hagi, Hakan Sukur.

SL verdict: Booming domestic league, would give geographical breadth. BORDERLINE.

JUVENTUS*

Best EC: Winners (2) '85, '96. Also won: ECWC '84; UEFA '77, '90, '93.

Stars: Alessandro Del Piero, Zinedine Zidane, Edgar Davids.

SL verdict: VIP entry. IN.

ROSENBORG TRONDHEIM (Q)

Best EC: QF '97.

Stars: John Ivar Jakobsen.

SL verdict: Tell the bouncers to watch out for these gatecrashers. OUT.

GROUP C

INTERNAZIONALE (Q2)

Best EC: Winners (2) '64, '65. Also won: UEFA '91, '94, '98.

Stars: Ronaldo, Roberto Baggio, Ivan Zamorano.

SL verdict: This way, Mr Ronaldo. IN.

SPARTAK MOSCOW (Q)

Best EC: SF '91.

Stars: Alexander Shirko.

SL verdict: Crumbling economy, terrible winters, no thanks. OUT.

REAL MADRID* (H)

Best EC: Winners (7) '56, '57, '58, '59, '60, '66, '98. Also won: UEFA '85, '86.

Stars: Roberto Carlos, Raul, Fernando Hierro, etc.

SL verdict: Climb aboard, but leave the debt at the door. IN.

STURM GRAZ (Q)

Best EC: Debut.

Stars: Ivica Vastic.

SL verdict: Sorry, what was your name again? OUT.

GROUP D

BARCELONA*

Best EC: Winners '92. Also won: ECWC '79, '82, '89, '97. UEFA '58, '60, '66.

Stars: Nadal, Rivaldo and assorted Dutchmen.

SL verdict: All those cups and the Pope's a member? Step right up. IN.

BAYERN MUNICH (Q2)

Best EC: Winners (3) '74, '75, '76. Also won: ECWC '67; UEFA '96.

Stars: Bixente Lizarazu, Stefan Effenberg, Lothar Matthaus.

SL verdict: Pedigree, wealth and large TV audience. Perfect. IN.

BRONDBY (Q)

Best EC: QF '87.

Stars: Ebbe Sand.

SL verdict: Nice city, so maybe for pre-season warm-ups. OUT.

MANCHESTER UNITED (Q2)

Best EC: Winners '68. Also won: ECWC '91.

Stars: Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Peter Schmeichel.

SL verdict: Munich, Sir Matt and Murdoch. We'll screen game slive and exclusive - for a price. IN.

GROUP E

ARSENAL*

Best EC: QF '72. Also won: ECWC '94; UEFA '70.

Stars: Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars, the defence.

SL verdict: Home games at Wembley, welcome aboard. IN.

DYNAMO KIEV (Q)

Best EC: SF '77, '87. Also won: ECWC '75, '86.

Stars: Andrei Shevchenko, Sergei Rebrov.

SL verdict: Only if we need a token team from the eastern bloc. BORDERLINE.

LENS*

Best EC: Debut.

Stars: All gone, or injured.

SL verdict: Someone tell Paris St-Germain not to let this happen again. OUT.

PANATHINAIKOS (Q2)

Best EC: Finalists '71.

Stars: Asa Asanovic, Krzysztof Warzycha.

SL verdict: If we need a Greek side, they're in. BORDERLINE.

GROUP F

BENFICA (Q2)

Best EC: Winners (2) '61, '62.

Stars: Karel Poborsky, Brian Deane... enough said.

SL verdict: Love the history, but not the poverty. BORDERLINE.

HJK HELSINKI (Q)

Best EC: 2R.

Stars: Piracaia.

SL verdict: Don't call us, we'll call you. OUT

KAISERSLAUTERN*

Best EC: 2R.

Stars: Ciriaco Sforza, Olaf Marschall.

SL verdict: Do we have to invite the Bundesliga champions? BORDERLINE.

PSV EINDHOVEN (Q2)

Best EC: Winners '88. Also won: UEFA '78.

Stars: Luc Nilis, Gilles de Bilde.

SL verdict: Can Philips do a deal on the electrics? BORDERLINE.

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