Manchester City head back into the Champions League hoping to go at least one better than last season, and given the additions Manuel Pellegrini has made this summer, there is no reason why – with a favourable draw – they cannot do just that.
The Blues still have some way to go to become a European force but this could be the season when they set about doing it.
Placed in pot two, they could be thrown into a Group of Death, but then again they could have a relatively easy route into the first knock-out round.
Here we consider the latter:
While some will say FC Porto would be the easiest draw, it is Benfica who arguably head into the new campaign weaker despite being the reigning Portuguese champions. Porto have lost Eliaquim Mangala to City but have replaced him with Bruno Martins Indi, while Benfica still have plenty of work to do in what remains of this transfer window to replace the players they have recently lost.
City should have few problems if they are drawn against the Greek side. Yes they are regulars in the Champions League, but they are rarely challengers and if the Blues cannot overcome them they should not consider themselves realistic challengers for the trophy. The only other side city are likely to be very happy drawing is Sporting Lisbon – a scenario that would not be possible if City drew either of the Portuguese sides in pot one.
The Slovenian side are the club everyone is likely to want from pot four. They could spring an almighty surprise but that seems highly unlikely. If City send out the big guns against Maribor they should come away with two relatively easy victories.