Ah, the UEFA Champions League.
The best club sides from all across Europe, randomly thrown together until one is crowned the champion of champions, the king of kings. With only the top few domestic sides qualifying, the quality of football is a whole step up, and clashes of giants from different countries are deliciously dramatic.
Normally, after the groups were drawn, I'd be buzzing with excitement. Who will play who? Clubs can't be drawn with their compatriots, so you're guaranteed an intriguing international soup. The seeding system ensures that there are at least two titans in each group, so there are no duds. Brilliant.
This year, though, there's little that I can say that hasn't been said before. Just last year, as it happens. In 2013, Manchester City were drawn with Bayern Munich, Arsenal were drawn with Borussia Dortmund, and Chelsea were drawn with Schalke 04. This was fairly unusual. With 16 top clubs seeded for the first two pots in the draw, from as many as 9 different countries, you'd think that you could expect a bit of variation.
To have the top three teams from England drawn with the top three teams from Germany, two of the three top footballing nations in Europe, is a little perplexing. Teams from Spain, the third, weren't complaining: whilst their main rivals wore each other down, the three top Spanish teams topped their groups easily, with entries from Turkey, Russia and Italy in second place. They had an unfairly simple path into the knock-out stages, and so the European final was staged between clubs not only from the same country, but from the same city.
It is doubly unusual, then, that this has all happened again. Not only are there three groups where the top two teams are German and English, with the Spanish instead facing competitors from Italy, Switzerland and France, but they are the exact same teams. Munich, champions of Germany, face City, champions of England. Chelsea once again face Schalke, and Arsenal once again face Dortmund. City's group also features CSKA Moscow, just as it did last year. They are receiving sympathy at having drawn an unluckily hard group, just as they were last year.
English and German fans will feel hard done by, and at the very least utterly bored by this repetitive selection. Spanish fans, whose teams have emerged lucky all over again, will carry on laughing.