Betfair blogger Louise Moran looks ahead to some mouth watering ties in the UEFA Cup and bets
Channel Five cannot believe their luck.
The hard work has paid off for England's remaining representatives in the
UEFA Cup. After travelling to far-flung corners of Europe and surviving dodgy
pitches and even dodgier kick-off times, the group stages are here.
I was sceptical at the time the change to the structure of the competition
was announced but it's brought some real excitement for the fans. What a game
in prospect for Portsmouth fans, who can now look forward to the visit of AC Milan.
The Italians won't know what to expect when they arrive at Fratton Park and
that could work in Pompey's favour.
The introduction of the group stages has extended the European adventure for
another couple of months at least for Pompey, Villa, Spurs and Man City fans.
Three clubs will go through from each group to the next knockout round so
there's a good chance they'll all still be involved in the New Year. The credit
crunch might be forgotten as fans dust off their passports and book trips to
Milan, Paris, Prague and Amsterdam. Some might say Spurs don't need the
distraction but the games will provide a pleasant change from scrapping for
points in the Premiership. The experience English players will gain from the
matches can also only be positive in terms of the national team.
This could be the saving of the UEFA Cup and it will certainly have a higher
profile over the next couple of months. It has lost out in so many ways over
the last few years to the Champions League but English football
fans can now look forward to some intriguing clashes involving some great
players. Steve McClaren's FC Twente will take on Manchester City, Spurs will
face Luka Modric's and Roman Pavluchenko's former clubs Dinamo Zagreb and
Spartak Moscow while Villa have drawn Martin Jol's Hamburg, currently top of
the Bundesliga. Paolo Maldini, Kaka, Ronaldinho and Robinho will be involved. I
Five can't believe their luck.