Liverpool's qualifier against Hoffenheim marks the start of the involvement of English clubs in the Champions League but Gary Lineker thinks a potential winner is more likely to come from a little further east.

Pubs will be looking to cash in with the return of Europe's premier competition and the BT Sport host believes the two Manchester clubs could make a significant challenge at home and abroad this season.

At a briefing to mark the start of the new season, he told Inapub: "I think United have got a really big squad, physically and numerically and they have obviously got an excellent manager so they'll be dogged and tough. They can field two teams.

"City have added quite a lot, especially in areas where they needed it. If you really pushed me I think the two Manchester clubs are best equipped to deal with competition on two fronts."

However, he added that it is still difficult to look beyond the Spanish giants for the eventual winner.

 

 

"There's still a bit of a gulf but it's closing, slowly," said the former Barca and Spurs man. "It's cyclical and we are in the era of the very dominant Spanish teams with all the best players in the world navigated towards Barcelona or Real Madrid.

"They do have a less strenuous style of football. Everyone plays the same and it's not as physical as the Premier League, so that works against us.

"I see us becoming more competitive. We have got great managers, a lot of money and we are finally developing young players. We are still playing catch up but it's a knock out competition so you never know."

 

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