Ah, late summer. A time when schoolchildren drearily head back to the books, and hurricanes head menacingly toward Texas. But it's not all bad news: The UEFA competitions have also started, and with them new hope that Portugal can undo their truly stank performance from last year. This year, after the qualifying rounds, Portugal is left with five teams in European competition. The Champions League has the big three: Porto, Benfica, and Sporting. The Europa League will feature Braga and Vitoria Guimaraes. Maritimo made it to the final round of EL qualifiers but fell to Dynamo Kyiv, 1-3 on aggregate, though they did draw the Ukrainians in Madeira. The CL groups shook out like this for Portugal: Group A: Benfica, Man United, Basel, CSKA Moscow. Benfica is actually the top seeded team in this group. Man U is a tough draw but if they can't finish ahead of Basel and CSKA, they don't deserve to advance. Group D: Juventus, Barcelona, Olympiacos, Sporting. Ouch. Juve and Barca look to be the clear favorites. I'd love to see Sporting pull some upsets, but in all honesty if they can get max points off the Greeks then make an EL run that would not be a terrible outcome. Group G: Monaco, Porto, Besiktas, Leipzig. Pretty evenly matched group, with Leipzig the wild card. It's a hard one to read honestly; I could see Porto cruising to top of the group or crapping out entirely. EL draw tomorrow, will update about that. And as things currently stand, Portugal is tenth so far in 2017-18 on 3.166 points, already behind $&^%&ing Russia, but it's way too early for these numbers to mean much. The somewhat good news is that we got five of six teams through to the group stages. The story is much the same as most years: What would help the most would be some consistent performances from all five teams, plus a couple deep runs in either tournaments. We shall see.