The Champions League and Man City didn't go hand-in-hand last season, but Patrick Vieira believes the Premier League Champions will be firmly in the mix this year. Vieira is looking forward to what he thinks could be the most exciting Champions League tournament ever. He sat down for a Q&A to discuss City's prospects this season, while giving his examination on Arsenal.
SoccerBible: Were Manchester City disappointed to miss out on some big signings over the summer?
PV: I don’t know if City are disappointed of not signing some big names over the summer like the press have spoken about but I believe that the team is strong enough to challenge in all the competitions. When you look back on the last few days we signed Maicon who I think is one of the best players in his position. We signed Javier Garcia who is a young talented player. I believe that the team is strong enough to challenge any of the teams in the league and in the Champions league.
What are Manchester City's chances of winning back to back titles?
PV: I think that City’s chances to win the league will be more difficult than last year because I believe that City will be the team to beat, last year we proved to everybody that we are a really strong football club on and off the field as well and it will be more difficult. But I believe that City are good enough to win the league again.
How tough is Man City's group [in the Champions League] considering Real Madrid and Dortmund are in it?
PV: I believe that the group in the Champions League is the most difficult group of all but it is really exciting and I think the fans must be really pleased and really happy because three years ago City were playing against small teams and were fighting to not go down and now we are going to receive Madrid, Ajax and Dortmund, last year we had Munich.
I think that is what the fans want when you compete in the Champions League, you must expect to play against these kind of teams and I think this is the way you learn. This is the way you progress and this is the big stage. Against these kinds of football clubs you want to perform so it is really exciting I think this is a good group, difficult but good.
Who are your favourites for the Champions League?
PV: So the favourites for the Champions League…it is going to be really, really difficult because you are talking about teams like Real Madrid, like Barcelona, like Bayern Munich who I believe will be in the last four, the last eight. But I hope that City will be one of the surprises of the competition even if I know we are quite far behind these kind of clubs. If I really had to give you a name I would go for Barcelona.
How strong is the Europa League this season?
PV: The Europa League is really exciting because for the last three, four years it has become more and more important and more and more difficult to win it and when you look at the teams now playing in the Europa League in France I would say, Lyon, Marseille, Boudreaux are in the Europa League and there are so many big clubs as well. In the last three or four years it has become more and more competitive.
Who are your favourites in the Europa League?
The favourites for the Europa League I would have to say… Athletico Madrid really impressed me last year by the way they played and the way they played against Chelsea. If I had to give you a favourite I would have to say Athletico Madrid but I hope that some of the French team’s like Marseille, Bordeaux or Lyon will do well because they are the three biggest clubs in France.
What is currently the best league in the world?
PV: I think the best league in the world no doubt about it is the English league because this is now where all the players want to come, all the big foreign names want to play in England and the league is now so competitive and I think you have five or six teams that could win the league, that makes it really exciting. When I go back to France it looks like they are following the Premier League more than the French League and I think that says everything, so yes, no doubt about it, the English Premier league is the best league.
Patrick is an ambassador for Western Union's new PASS initiative, turning every pass in this season's UEFA Europa League into funding for one day's education for young people around the world.