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Champions League draw: Man City and Barcelona face toughest groups

The FC crew react to Manchester City's Group D matchups and wonder if Juventus will be able to escape the group with Sevilla in such good form.

MONACO -- UEFA's new seeding rules began to have an effect at Thursday's Champions League draw. Guaranteeing the champions of the top seven associations (Spain, England, Germany, Italy, Portugal, France and Russia), plus the reigning winner of the competition a place in Pot 1 -- rather than awarding the top seeds to the top eight qualified teams according to UEFA rankings -- didn't amount to the seismic shift it might have been.

Still, it benefited the likes of PSV Eindhoven and Zenit. At the...

Are today's central defenders worse than their predecessors?

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop shares his thoughts on Gab Marcotti's article examining whether or not central defenders are worse today than in the past.

Well, Team X really need to upgrade their back four, but who are you going to get that's better than the guys they already have? There are very few great central defenders out there.

You've probably heard the above, usually linked to some kind of transfer talk. I've heard it too, and maybe it's true, but it strikes me that there's one fundamental problem with that logic:

If this generation of center-backs is so bad, why aren't teams scoring more goals?

The numbers on this are pretty clear: In the...

FIFA, here we go again: Reform chief Carrard talks Blatter-style nonsense

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno and Brian McBride discuss the controversial comments made by potential FIFA reformist, Francois Carrard, who called the game in the US, "an ethnic sport for girls in schools."
Former South Korean FA president Chung Mong-joon has vowed to fix "corrupt" FIFA after formally announcing his bid to replace Sepp Blatter at the helm of world football's governing body.
Francois Carrard helped clean up the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics scandal, but in his current role to reform FIFA he has made some outlandish statements.

The man charged with leading with FIFA's reform task force (he was appointed earlier in August) is a 77-year-old Swiss lawyer who spent 14 years as director general of the International Olympic Committee.

He's also a guy who, in 2015, believes that football in the United States -- the FIFA kind -- is "just an ethnic sport," something for "girls to play in schools." And who thinks it's a good idea to say as much. In a public, on-the-record interview.

Francois Carrard was speaking to the Swiss newspaper...

Real Madrid's draw doesn't matter, Man City's hot start, no panic for Juve

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno gives his take on the slow starts for both Barcelona and Real Madrid and believes there should be more concern at the Bernabeu than at Camp Nou.

You have to look beyond the result to assess Real Madrid's performance away to Sporting Gijon on the opening day of the 2015-16 La Liga season. A 0-0 draw against a newly promoted club with a tiny budget and one of the youngest squads in the league is not a good result, but right now, what's more important is whether they played well and whether Rafa Benitez's vision is coming together.

The truth is Real Madrid could easily have won that game. They took plenty of shots, forced enough outstanding...

Pedro could be a big loss for Barcelona given his value as an insurance policy

As Barcelona start the season without Gerard Pique, who was sent off in the Spanish Super Cup and faces potential suspension from La Liga's opening games, ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno talks about the challenges facing the reigning European champions.

The point of insurance is to safeguard you when things go really, really, really wrong.

Most of us get it. Your house and possessions probably won't be incinerated by a sudden fire but if it happens, you'll be glad you paid a premium for the benefit of an insurance payout. Without it, you're kinda screwed.

For better or worse, Pedro is Barcelona's insurance policy right now. That's why it's not hard to understand why club president Josep Maria Bartomeu talks him up at every turn, referring...

Man City dominate Chelsea, Dortmund impress, Man United strikers, FIFA

The ESPN FC crew discuss Chelsea's underwhelming performance against Manchester City, who were led by key performances from Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero.

One of the most striking things about Manchester City's 3-0 win over Chelsea was what a difference a season can make, for both clubs.

Vincent Kompany, Eliaquim Mangala, Jesus Navas and Fernandinho all endured -- for different reasons -- distinctly subpar campaigns last year but were devastating against Jose Mourinho's men.

On the flip side, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas and the heart of Chelsea's back four -- so steady for much of 2014-15 -- struggled mightily at the Etihad.