Four French clubs have qualified for the FIBA Europe EuroLeague Women for the 2008-200 edition: Bourges Basket as French champions, Montpellier, Union Hainaut and Villeneuve D'Acsq.
They all finished in the first four places during the French regular season 2007-2008.
Union Hainaut Basket has replaced USVO.
There are four clubs from the French LFB and Russian SuperLeague and three from the Italian league. For the first time since 2005 there is no club participating from Belgium.
The beauty of this competition is that it is not necessary to compare team rosters during the preliminary phase as players tend to move around during the season.
EuroLeague Women Group A
Bourges Basket 2008-2009
This is very likely the most open group with two newcomers to this competition: Nadezhda and Besiktas Cola Turka. It is not very clear at this stage to determine which of the remaining teams could qualify for the second round.
Bourges Basket had a hard time during their first five games of last season's competition before becoming strong. Then they make it all the way to the final four.
This season they have been perfect domestically. Despite the loss of four members from last season's roster, they will be expected to finish in the first four places from this group.
Nadezhda are the Russian representatives in this group. They may not be as well known as the other three teams from the Russian SuperLeague. But they showed a lot of promise during last season's EuroCup Women.
MiZo Pécs 2010 is without their legendary coach Laszlo Ratgeber. He has taken over at Spartak Moscow Region but MiZo Pécs should still be difficult to manoeuvre at home.
TS Wisla Krakow should be interesting to watch. With Chamique Holdsclaw returning for another season, there are certainly going to be fireworks.
Halcon Avenida are not as strong on paper as in previous seasons. It is difficult to assess how they will do. Gunta Basko will be making only her second appearance in the EuroLeague Women.
Turkish club basketball is on the up and Besiktas have qualified for the first time. Shay Doron is expected to lead the team offensively.
EuroLeague Women Group B
Villeneuve d'Ascq 2008-2009
CSKA Moscow are expected to dominate this group. At present they have the most impressive roster.
Gambrinus Sika Brno and MKB EuroLeasing Sopron have good history in continental competitions. Both teams are expected to qualify for the second round.
Gambrinus is without key figures from their glorious past but still have enough power in their roster to prevail. Meanwhile the question for MKB is how will they do without Olexandra Gorbunova?
Three teams fighting for one place:Villeneuve d'Ascq have practically a new team this season. They will once again face TTT Riga. The final teal from Italy is Umana Reyer Venezia.
The Italian sides have struggled in the EuroLeague Women. However they have dominated the EuroCup Women. If Umana can reverse the trend for Italian clubs then the three-way contest between Villeneuve, Riga and them should be interesting.
EuroLeague Women Group C: the group of death
Union Hainaut Basket 2008-2009
If the basketball lives up to the clubs' reputations, then the competition between all the teams in this group will be exciting.
Ekaterinburg finished in third place last season. They have acquired the service of Cappie Pondexter for this season. With the arrival of Candance Parker in January, the club's ambitions are clear: qualification for the final four.
The qualification for the second round will not be that simple as they have Ros Casares as opponents. Casares have strengthened their roster with some solid signings. They have also managed to get Amaya Valdemoro and Ana Montañana to come back to their club.
UHB is the new name for USVO. So far they have proved to be the most exciting team in the LFB: whether they win or lose. Once this team gels they could be serious challengers. However they have to get out of the group of death.
LOTOS PKO BP Gdynia have put together an interesting roster this season which could see them also return to the final four.
ZVVZ USK Prague have put together a new roster which has a Bourges touch with Sonja Kireta and Evanthia Maltsi as new editions.
With all the attention on the above five teams Jolly JBS Sibenik once again are under no pressure. If they repeat what they showed last season, they will not be that easy to beat.
EuroLeague Women Group D
Spartak Moscow Region is expected to cruise during the group phase: Laszlo Ratgeber takes over the reigns as head coach. He has a tough act to follow in replacing Natalia Hejkova. Yet the roster he has his team should see him through to the second round.
Behind the defending champions TEO Vilnus, Maxima Brocker Kosice and Fenerbahce are three sides that are very similar. It is difficult to classify them. They all have to cope with the departure of key players but their experience in this competition should also see them through.
Maxima home fans give their side a huge advantage. They may break again the record for the attendance of a EuroLeague game.
Montpellier decided to participate this season in this competition. However this is not the same team that did wonders in the LFB last season. Despite their victory domestically against UHB in the LFB they are expected to struggle this year.
Schio have the ability to do well. They might become the Italian club to raise the profile of Italian basketball in this competition. They have recruited players with experience but like Montpellier are expected to struggle in this group.