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The new UEFA Champions League season gets under way this week – and a new official magazine will fully reflect the thrills and spills of European football's premier competition.
Names in the news
Champions, an impressive and comprehensive 140-page glossy publication, will cover the names in the news, the highs and lows and nights of glory and tears in what has become one of the world's most popular sporting and commercial events.
Brand and format overhaul
Champions is part of a major branding and format overhaul of the competition to herald the new season. UEFA decided last year to revamp the Champions League for 2003/04, introducing a 32-team group stage followed by a 16-team knock-out phase "which should ease the fixture load for clubs and players and enhance the drama as the tournament unfolds", according to UEFA communications and public affairs director Mike Lee.
He added: "At the same time we are boosting the style and brand of the competition and have struck a series of new television deals that will bring the game to an even greater worldwide TV audience. To support these changes we have decided to launch Champions – the official magazine of the Champions League, to give fans the best possible information about the world's greatest club competition."
Embarrassment of riches
Issue 1, for October and November, contains an embarrassment of riches for football enthusiasts. Real Madrid CF and Brazil star Ronaldo talks exclusively about life with the Spanish giants, and Manchester United FC's Dutch spearhead, Ruud Van Nistelrooij, comes under the spotlight in an article looking at what makes him such a lethal goalscorer.
Referees and coaches
Europe's top referees tell us how they keep the game's stars under control in the glare of the media spotlight, and FC Bayern München’s Michael Ballack looks forward to the German club's renewed Champions League challenge. The top coaches are also in Champions, with AC Milan's Carlo Ancelotti looking back on last season's Champions League triumph, and Arsenal FC's Arsène Wenger talking about his distinguished career.
Behind the scenes, there is an in-depth interview with UEFA Chief Executive Gerhard Aigner, who retires at the end of the year, as well as a wealth of statistics, rankings and results to keep the fans totally up to date with the Champions League action.
"This new magazine, available across Europe in English, French and German, is designed to offer real insight into the clubs, players, coaches games and issues that combine to make the UEFA Champions League such a compelling spectacle," said Lee. "That's our aim, we leave you to decide whether or not we've delivered."
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