Bayern Munich were crowned the best side in Europe last season and the rest of the continent's leading lights are trying to emulate their Champions League success this term.
Goal asked our international experts to examine the task facing each side in the group stage of the competition following the draw, with tricky hurdles to overcome for several big clubs.
Greg Stobart: "Manchester United boss David Moyes would have hoped for an easier debut in the Champions League, but he will be reasonably satisfied. Sociedad are an unknown quantity and Shakhtar will be a stern test."
Peter Staunton: "Shakhtar have not yet fully integrated their latest batch of overseas players but will be reasonably confident of progressing provided they can get their act together in time for the group stages."
Florian Teichert: "The Werkself have convinced so far in the league and will probably fight with the Ukrainians and Sociedad for second place. It could've been much worse - the knockout stages are feasible.“
Miguel Churruca: "Sociedad were undoubtely one of the teams to avoid in the fourth pot. The playoff win against Lyon showed how the squad is really well connected and how dangerous they could be for any rival."
Alberto Pinero: "Real Madrid are big favourites to win Group B. It's a much easier draw than last year. The game against Juventus could be very exciting."
Sergio Chesi: "It's not a bad draw for Juventus. It will be a fascinating clash versus Real Madrid, but the Old Lady cannot fear Galatasaray or Copenhagen."
Hasan Ozkan: "Gala have a harder draw than last year but a stronger team. Drogba and Sneijder had a great pre-season and Chedjou was added to the squad."
Seran van Gemert: "Copenhagen must simply enjoy their games against top opponents. They survived the group stage alongside Barcelona in 2010, but progress seems impossible against Madrid and Juventus."
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Nicolas de Marco: "Benfica have a very good opportunity to finish among the 16 best teams in Europe. With no continental champions to face, the Portuguese side should beat Olympiakos and Anderlecht to get second place."
Naim Beneddra: "Like last year, PSG have done quite well here. The Ligue 1 champions have a very negotiable group - the three clubs have pedigree but cannot compete with the likes of Ibrahimovic and Cavani."
Peter Staunton: "Benfica are one of the weakest pot one teams so Olympiakos will count their blessings that the big guns from there have been avoided. However, the presence of PSG complicates prospects of progression."
Seran van Gemert: "Anderlecht will be happy to find themselves in Group C. The French champions are expected to be out of their league, but the Belgian outfit can battle for second place with Benfica."
Daniel Buse: "It would come as a huge surprise if Bayern did not make the next round. The title holders will fight Manchester City for first place and should be able to hold off CSKA and Plzen to advance quite easily.“
Peter Staunton: "Not a good draw for CSKA. Someone had to draw the defending champions and it is the Russians who have done so. Moscow in the winter is not an enticing prospect for any side, however."
Greg Stobart: "It’s not quite the Group of Champions that was so disastrous last season, but Manchester City supporters’ hearts would have sunk when they were drawn alongside Bayern Munich."
Sergio Chesi: "It'll be a miracle if Viktoria Plzen qualify for the next stage in a group that Bayern Munich and Man City should dominate. However, the Czech side fully deserve their place thanks to a great team ethic."
Greg Stobart: "Chelsea will be happy to have avoided all of the really dangerous sides in the other pots and, after their early exit last season, they should cruise to victory in Group E."
Hassan Talib Haji: "This is certainly a manageable task for Schalke and they can realistically finish this group in second place behind Jose Mourinho's Chelsea."
Peter Staunton: "A tough-looking group for the Swiss champions but they did show last season they were a match for Chelsea. Two wins against Steaua will be vital as teams under Jose Mourinho tend not to drop many points in the group stage."
Kornel Pracki: "Qualification for the Europa League should be the first objective. Chelsea and Schalke are stronger but Steaua showed great spirit in the play-offs and, with similar performances, a surprise is possible."
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Greg Stobart: "For the second time in three seasons, Arsenal find themselves drawn alongside Marseille and Borussia Dortmund - and Napoli’s inclusion in the final pot has given them a nasty looking group."
Naim Beneddra: "For Marseille, this looks very difficult. Although this is not the 'Group of Death', it is fair to say OM could not have drawn a worse selection, including Napoli from pot four."
Stefan Doring: "The group is much easier than last year and the club can look forward to old rivals; two years ago Borussia played Arsenal and Marseille. Napoli is a great match for the supporters."
Sergio Chesi: "Everyone at Napoli expected be a tough draw - and they got one. But it's not an impossible mission for Rafa Benitez's side to go through."
Iago Lago: "Porto will battle against Atletico Madrid once more in the Champions League; they won their encounter a few seasons ago, but this time the outcome could be different."
Adrian Boullosa: "Atletico have a relatively good group. The trip to Zenit and playing against league champions like Porto are important tests, but Diego Simeone's side are strong enough to beat both rivals this year."
Zenit St Petersburg
Peter Staunton: "There is talent in the Zenit ranks and they have a point to prove having been unimpressive in their recent campaigns. The games against Porto and Atletico will decide the fate of Spalletti's team."
Fabian Biastoch: "Austria does not have a high-class squad but surviving the group is not out of the question. They can trouble the favourites and have a realistic chance of finishing in second or third place."
Pilar Suarez: "Barcelona's first obstacles will be AC Milan and Celtic, two old foes whose defensive walls seem to be the biggest threats to the Catalan side in a not-so-scary Group H."
Yannick Vos: "'It can't be heavier then last season', said Frank de Boer. But after being drawn in a group with Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City, Ajax again face an extremely onerous task."
Greg Stobart: "Celtic put in so much work to win their qualifier - and this is the reward they get. You fear Neil Lennon's side will finish bottom of Group H."
Sergio Chesi: "At the Milan headquarters, they will be annoyed after being drawn alongside Barcelona again. It's the third Champions League in a row in which the Rossoneri will face Messi & Co."