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Nuno Gomes on Benfica, Porto, Sporting and three modern striking greats

In a column for UEFA.com, the former Benfica and Portugal forward looks ahead to an exciting season for some big Portuguese names.

Nuno Gomes is giving the Portuguese contenders his best wishes for the group stage
Nuno Gomes is giving the Portuguese contenders his best wishes for the group stage AFP via Getty Images

UEFA.com columnist Nuno Gomes looks ahead to Benfica's first games, celebrates Portugal's success in getting three teams into the group stage and, as a celebrated former Eagles and Portugal front man, gives his thoughts on three great modern forwards.

I felt enormous pride in playing for Benfica in the Champions League. I remember my first season [1998/99], when I scored five in the group stage, two of them at PSV in a 2-2 draw. As a player, my best memory was eliminating Liverpool in 2005/06; we played a great game [and won 2-0] at Anfield and managed to eliminate the reigning champions.

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Nuno Gomes in action against PSV in 1998
Nuno Gomes in action against PSV in 1998Getty Images

Benfica's opening opponents Dynamo seem like the outsiders in their group, but they have an excellent team, a great coach in Mircea Lucescu and lots of Ukrainian internationals. Bayern and Barcelona are the favourites in that section, but Dynamo and Benfica also want to qualify and can cause those two sides a lot of problems.

We haven't had three Portuguese teams in the Champions League since 2017, so this is very good for our game. Sporting and Porto had tough draws, though. Porto have the hardest group and also the most unpredictable: Liverpool and Atlético have been fighting for the European title in recent years, and they also have Milan, who have won this competition several times. Porto will have a difficult task, but I believe they will also have a say since they've shown that all that matters is what you do on the pitch, not your name or your history.

In Sporting's group, Dortmund and Ajax are the favourites, but I think Sporting have legitimate hope of progressing. Ajax always have a great team, and got close to the final few seasons back. Dortmund are used to reaching the latter stages of the competition and have great players, especially [Erling] Haaland up top.

Kylian Mbappé and Erling Haaland: "One day they could play in the same team"
Kylian Mbappé and Erling Haaland: "One day they could play in the same team"Getty Images

Haaland and Kylian Mbappé are extraordinary strikers and, being so young, we will be hearing about them for a long time. They have things in common: pace, dribbling, attacking depth, unpredictability. Mbappé has a lot of skill while Haaland has enormous power, which can destroy a defence. Mbappé can play in various positions up front, while Haaland is more of a No9, so maybe one day they could play in the same team. You never know.

However, while it's great to see the young players coming on, it is good to see Cristiano Ronaldo back at Manchester United too. We already know that nothing is impossible for him. He's a machine, and he fills all Portuguese people with pride. I believe he will do everything to win titles with Manchester United. He will score a lot of goals, as he has been doing everywhere he's been for many years.

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