Champions ushers in group stage campaign

A new UEFA Champions League group stage begins and Champions magazine comes fully prepared with features on Wesley Sneijder and FC Barcelona in a packed edition.

Wesley Sneijder is featured in the latest edition of Champions
Wesley Sneijder is featured in the latest edition of Champions ©

As a new UEFA Champions League group stage campaign kicks off, issue 43 of the official competition magazine Champions talks exclusively to FC Internazionale Milano's Wesley Sneijder.

The attacking midfielder recalls his early career at AFC Ajax, growing up in Utrecht – "at midnight I'd be in the street playing football" – and winning the UEFA Champions League last May. No one enjoyed the Nerazzurri's unprecedented success more than their president Massimo Moratti, and Champions goes behind the scenes to look at how he restored his beloved Inter to the pinnacle of Europe.

FC Barcelona have set the benchmark for quick passing football, and their all-seeing midfield maestro Xavi Hernández is the master. Speaking to Champions about his education at Barcelona's La Masia academy, he says: "Skill is worth more than strength." The Catalan club continue planning for the future, having set up a replica of their academy in Buenos Aires. Find out how they are helping the local youngsters as we meet the main figures behind the project.

There is a hint of north London to the new edition with Champions coming face to face with Arsenal FC striker Marouane Chamakh and Tottenham Hotspur FC goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

Heading further north, Champions examines the state of Swedish football and their quest to return to the European elite. Valeri Karpin discusses taking over at FC Spartak Moskva while six players who hold the key to that side's trophy chances are put in the spotlight.

The first step for any player at a new club is the medical. Champions dons a white coat to discover just what happens. The mental aspect is just as important as the physical, however, and Champions reveals how a player's mind must be right before his feet are; focuses on coaches with a psychological edge; and hears from Jacques Crevoisier who tests players' mental strength for Arsenal.

Elsewhere, Champions considers how Didier Deschamps led Olympique de Marseille back to the top; recalls the genius of Albert Batteux who took Stade de Reims Champagne to the brink of European glory; and remembers six debut seasons to shout about.

Plus the road to Wembley: the indispensable guide to all 32 teams in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League.

Champions, official UEFA Champions League magazine, is on sale on newsstands across Europe.