The jouney on the road to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, began today in Nyon, Switzerland when the draw was made for the 1st and 2nd Qualifying rounds in this years Champions League tournament, or the European Cup as it was known and as it should be called.
There are, in fact, 3 qualifying rounds, which will whittle down from 60 to 16, the teams who will join 16 pre-existing teams in the glamorous and lucrative group stages.
8 groups of 4 will then be made up, with the winners and runners-up of each group going forward into the knockout stages.
From then on, the 16 teams remaining will play head to head until there are only 2 teams left, who will then travel to the Eternal City of Rome to contest the final.
There isn't a lot to talk about in todays draws, with the exception maybe of a potential powderkeg match in the first round between the fiercely anti-Catholic team from N.Ireland, Linfield,
who take on the extremely pro-Catholic team from Croatia, Dinamo Zagreb. Both sets of fans are not renowned for their tolerance. There are 28 teams in this draw, with the winners going into the second round draw.
Not a great deal to talk about in the second round draw either, where 14 teams await the winners from the first round. Scotland's second representative in the tournament enters here. They will play the winners of the game between the Lithuanians, Kaunas, and the Andorran's, Santa Colomo, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andorra
). Let's hope they get knocked out!
The 14 winners of the second round games will go into a third qualifying draw with 18 other teams. The 16 winners of these games will then go into the group stages. Some of the teams in this round include a few of the big guns of European football, Barcelona, Arsenal, Liverpool and Juventus.
My prediction for the final? Spain is on a high at the moment, there is the financial clout of the English teams to consider, and you can never rule out the Italians, so, after giving great thought to this question, I will go for a Barcelona V Glasgow Celtic