Jurgen Klinsmann has tipped Borussia Dortmund or Manchester City as potential Champions League winners.
Former Germany coach Klinsmann, now in charge of the USA national team, has said both clubs – drawn together in group D along with Real Madrid and Ajax – are capable of lifting the trophy in May. He told spox.com: "You certainly have to consider the English champions Manchester City and German champions Borussia Dortmund. Both are capable of winning the Champions League.
"I rate Manchester City higher than Chelsea. In the Champions League, you have to be ready for certain games.
"No team can be in top form throughout the season. But you have to take your phases of weakness when there is no important Champions League match coming up."
Klinsmann, who led Bayern Munich into the quarter finals of the competition in 2009, said Dortmund's bad run in last year's Champions League was down to a lack of experience rather than naivety.
"The Champions League has a completely different character to the Bundesliga," he explained. "You only have six group matches, and if you fall behind early you'll have difficulties catching up - especially if you are not experienced."
Klinsmann said Group D - which has, perhaps inevitably, attracted the "group of death" label - "feels more like a semi-final than a normal group" but said he believed Dortmund would not benefit if they tried to change their style in adapting to the challenge.
"If he [coach Jurgen Klopp] changed the character of their game, he might rob the team of its strength and would still not have guaranteed success. Barcelona did not win an international title for years, but always stuck to their way."
He praised Dortmund newcomer Marco Reus, saying: "Reus is a brilliant player - fast, versatile and a great finisher. The Champions League offers him the chance to take the next step. There are no guarantees, but it is a good opportunity for him."
Dortmund face Netherlands champions Ajax in their first group match at a sell-out Westfalenstadion on Tuesday, and Robert Lewandowski said: "The season starts now. If we don't want to finish third or fourth, we have to beat Ajax". Team-mate Mats Hummels echoed that thought, saying: "We don't want to start with a draw or a loss".