SAO PAULO (AP) – Group C
Manchester United, Benfica, Basel, Otelul Galati
We love what's happening in Lisbon. For too long the great Benfica club has lived off its reputation while languishing in the league and in Europe. They still haven't caught Porto in the league - maybe this season - but they look like having the goods to be a force in Europe once again.
It should be easy for Wayne Rooney and Manchester United (Clive Rose/Getty Images)
The key to the transformation is the quicksilver Nolito, plucked from Barcelona's over-stocked youth warehouse. Surround him with some guys who can actually finish - Axel Witsel, for example - then mix in some playmaking from the likes of Pablo Aimar and Oscar Cardozo and the beat may be on in Lisbon this fall.
Of course, even a much-improved Benfica will only be playing for second place in this section.
Sir Alex Ferguson isn't going to be able to fool anyone: this should be a cakewalk for the Red Devils no matter what he says to the press.
Manchester United is now disguised as a youth camp that features fellows named Cleverely, Jones and Welbeck with supporting roles for men like Nani, Rooney and, oh yes, Mr. Berbatov of The Bench. They have so much talent - almost as much as noisy neighbors City.
The other two in this group are spectators and their battle for a Europa League spot, if we can call it that, will likely be decided between themselves.
Our prediction: Manchester United are group winners; Benfica are runners-up. What the heck, we'll pick Otelul Galati for the Europa League.
Continue reading: 1 , 2 , 3, 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8