Barcelona will probably be pretty happy with their draw in Group G of the Champions League. Benfica will give them challenge and trips to Moscow are never easy, but they are the clear favorites to win this group.
Barcelona will be looking to rebound from their disappointing exit to Chelsea in the the semifinals of last year's tournament. The only thing that might derail another trip to the knockout round is their defense which has looked extremely shaky at times during their first couple matches this season. Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta will lead the way up front as Tito Vilanova looks to make his mark on the Champions League.
The Portuguese club surprisingly topped their group last year, helping to knock perennial contender Manchester United to the Europa League. After a Round of 16 victory over Zenit St. Petersburg, they fell to eventual champions Chelsea. Advancing is no doubt expected, but finishing above Barca would a tremendous accomplishment for Jorge Jesus and his team if they can pull it off.
Spartak are back in the Champions League after missing out in 2011-12. Getting out of this group would be a big deal and whenever you get to play three matches in Moscow, that's an advantage. Whether or not they have enough firepower to get results away from home will have to be seen.
The Scottish giants may have an easy time of it in the SPL this season, but their chances of making it out of this group seem pretty slim.
Is there anything left to say about Messi? He's the best player in the world and the better he plays, the better chance Barcelona have of reaching Wembley.
The 23-year-old Belgian midfielder with the big hair (what is it with Belgian midfielders and big hair?) enters his second season with Benica after joining in 2011 from Standard Liege. He's already been linked with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, so a big performance on Europe's biggest stage for club football could rocket this guy's stock even higher.
I doubt this match-up will be very entertaining but there's something fascinating about the idea of Messi and company traveling to Celtic Park. We may never get the chance to find out if Messi can get it done on a cold, wet night in Stoke, but we might just get the chance to see if he can get it done on a cold, wet night in Glasgow.