With the knockout stage of the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League upon us, Champions, the competition's official magazine, is out and as Lionel Messi continues to accumulate honours, the FC Barcelona forward – winner of the FIFA Ballon d'Or for the third successive year – takes pride of place on the cover.
Boots – you cannot play the game without them, and in this issue Champions traces the history of the humble football boot, finds out what Messi does with his old pairs once he is finished with them, and hears scientific proof that the Barcelona man really is a genius.
Champions charts the evolution of Arsenal FC's Robin van Persie, from a scorer of great goals to a great goalscorer – and speaks to his next opponent, AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimović, about calcio, martial arts and not getting hung up on European glory.
There is also an exclusive with Brazilian full-back Rafinha on his circuitous route to FC Bayern München, and a sit-down chat with SL Benfica's Pablo Aimar, who talks of his longevity, love of the game and delight at scoring first.
Champions recalls the career of idiosyncratic Belgian coach and UEFA Champions League winner Raymond Goethals; ponders why more South American coaches have not conquered Europe; and listens in on Chelsea FC boss André Villas-Boas talking tactics and formations with UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh.
Also in this edition, Champions looks back at how certain defeats became a catalyst for change and ultimate victory for some of Europe's top teams, and spends one night in Croatia with GNK Dinamo Zagreb.
There is also a salute for the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2011, decided by millions of votes by football enthusiasts, and news of the launch of a new women's football section on UEFA's official website.
Plus the players to watch in the last 16; interviews with Dutch great Marco van Basten, Olympique Lyonnais' Bafétimbi Gomis and PFC CSKA Moskva's Seydou Doumbia; and out on the town in Naples with Gökhan Inler.
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