Before every season, we here at 7500 to Holte like to get together and do a bit of a roundtable preview of the upcoming year of football. Because we've got so many writers and so many questions, we thought that we'd change the format a bit this year and make it a week-long buildup to the first match of the season. You'll get new questions answered each day, and today we're beginning with football outside of England. We'd love to hear your answers in the comments, so please drop them in!
Who will win the Champions League?
Aaron: Bayern. I'm still flabbergasted they didn't win it last year.
Robert: Bayern, because I am boring. Though the fact that the final is in Berlin makes me think they might not. The home team never wins. Just ask Brazil.
Andrew: How about a Real Madrid repeat
Matt: I think it'll be Bayern over Real in the final.
Jack: FC Bayern. Barcelona and Real Madrid are your other two favorites, but I think Pep evolves the side and his tactics, and the final is in Berlin.
Alex: Berlin. Like the actual city. I love it and it'll be prominently back on the footballing map for the first time in a while when Bayern triumph over somebody in the final. But if Marco Reus is still at Dortmund I want that to happen so bad. He's the best.
Thomas: Real Madrid will retain it.
Who will win the Ballon d'Or?
Aaron: Ronaldo, because the Ballon d'Or is like two years behind everyone else.
Kirsten: Can it be Ronaldo if he had a craptastic World Cup? Wouldn't it be all the more amazing if it were, say, Bastian Schweinsteiger or something?
Robert: Messi, because I don't get the voters at all. Still baffled that he got the best player at the World Cup, which didn't seem right to me at all.
Andrew: Probably Messi. Yawn.
Matt: Aleksandr Tonev. Okay, now I'm done. Unless Messi lights it up in the first half of next year, I'm thinking Ronaldo. The "disappointment" of Messi's World Cup run will drag him down a bit and Ronaldo will take it again.
Jack: Zlatan. I think PSG can get to the last four of the Champions League this year, and despite Ibra being somewhat ageless, his time at the top is inevitably winding down.
Alex: I'd make a Suarez bite joke here but it wouldn't be funny. I don't know, I think it'll be Ronaldo going back-to-back carrying the momentum from the Champions League triumph.
Thomas: Luis Suarez. How about that?
What team outside of England are you most interested in watching this year?
Aaron: The obvious answer is the Sounders, but I'm guessing that's not the spirit of the question since their season is halfway over already. I think Corinne Diacre managing Clermont Foot is one of the more interesting things happening in football right now, so I'll definitely be keeping an eye on them.
Kirsten: I'm guessing I'm not allowed to answer Napoli? Seriously, though, Serie A in general should be fun. Antonio Conte leaving Juventus means there's a possibility of another team sneaking in for the title. Roma challenged last season but, no matter what Alex is saying, they're going to have a much tougher time of it now that they'll have midweek games -- it's what kept them fresh last season. Napoli are quietly reinforcing their squad and could make a run at the scudetto, while if Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gómez stay fit, Fiorentina could be a surprise contender. As could Inter, much as it pains me to say it.
Robert: Atletico holds an odd fascination for me. They've essentially Southamptoned themselves, but they were so good to begin with that they may still be worth watching. I'll be intrigued to see how they deal with the drop in quality.
Andrew: That's the eternal struggle. It's certainly not the Fire. I've wanted to get into the Bundesliga but that won't be widely available until 2015 when the FOX deal kicks in. Maybe one of you can convince me.
Matt: SC Bastia. My French team lost its manager but has hired Claude Makelele. I'll probably end up falling for some team in another league at some point during the season, but I don't know who right now.
Jack: Barcelona. So much drama with Suarez, a somewhat ageing side, Messi vs. Neymar, and also they have an incredible squad but will have to go against Real Madrid who have assembled quite the squad as well.
Alex: Well, I'll obviously be emotionally invested in the rest of the Indy Eleven trainwreck and the impending Hertha Berlin campaign that could either be amazing or horrible but aside from that, I'm really interested to see how Roma get on this year in the Champions League. They had a solid campaign last year and could be the club that returns Serie A back to the top. Plus it's Ashley Cole playing in Italy. That should be fun.
Thomas: I really enjoyed watching Atletico last season. Their work ethic and style of play was amazing. They've lost a lot of quality but really know how to replace it. Griezmann is one of my favourite players and I can't wait to see if he can make the next step up.