Heineken Cup Pool 4: Can Clermont bounce back after last year's Heineken Cup final disappointment?
The greatest club competition in the world returns to Sky Sports this weekend and we look at the contenders in Pool 4.
Last Updated: October 9, 2013 3:13pm
Heineken Cup Preview - Pool 4
A humdinger of a pool, with two of France's heavyweights paired with Premiership giants Harlequins. But spare a thought for the Scarlets, who lost all six games last season and face an even more arduous task here.
Harlequins were bullied on their own patch by Munster last season, and have already lost to Saracens and Northampton at the Stoop. In a pool where home form will be absolutely vital, Conor O'Shea's side must find some home comfort.
Can Clermont bounce back from their gut-wrenching final defeat to Toulon? Their mouth-watering trip to Racing Metro in the opening round will provide us with some answers.
Last season finish: Runners-up
Director of rugby: Vern Cotter
Captain: Aurelien Rougerie
Ground: Stade Marcel Michelin
Sky Bet odds: 5/1
Key man: Morgan Parra -one of the world's best half-backs, adept at controlling games.
Overview: Unlike their Top 14 peers, Clermont were relatively quiet in the transfer market during the close season. Their start to the season has been inconsistent, ranging from a double-scores win over Toulouse to a 40-point hammering by Montpellier, but if they can maintain their formidable home record they look well-placed to atone for last season's final heartbreak.
Last season finish: Quarter-finals
Head coach: Conor O'Shea
Captain: Chris Robshaw
Ground: The Twickenham Stoop
Sky Bet odds: 20/1
Key man: Nick Evans - will surpass 1500 points in a Quins shirt this season. When he's on his game, so are Quins.
Overview: Quins have made a stuttering start to the season and back-to-back home defeats will be a cause of concern for Conor O'Shea. Those losses were against Northampton and Saracens, two physical teams, and it's an area where Quins have struggled in recent years. Half-backs Nick Evans and Danny Care are potential match-winners, while Nick Easter shows no signs of ageing, but they need to hit heights not yet seen in this campaign if they are to progress from this pool.
Last season finish: Pool stages
Director of rugby: Simon Easterby
Captain: Rob McCusker, Jonathan Davies
Ground: Parc y Scarlets
Sky Bet odds: 66/1
Key man: Rhys Priestland - can go from brilliant to brutal in the space of a week. The Scarlets will be hoping for lots of the former.
Overview: Simon Easterby's side have made a promising start to the Pro12 season, winning three of their first five games, but their prospects of reaching the knockout stages for the first time since 2007 appear remote. The Scarlets like to play with ball in hand and are an attractive side to watch, but they must play the game in the right areas against three sides who all harbour serious European ambitions.
Last season finish: Pool stages
Head coaches: Laurent Travers, Laurent Labit
Captain: Lionel Nallet
Ground: Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Sky Bet odds: 16/1
Key man: Jonathan Sexton - from creating opportunities out wide to his deft short kicking game, the Irishman will keep the opposition guessing
Overview: The mega-rich Parisiens have spent big this summer, assembling a world class squad that includes Lions trio Jonathan Sexton, Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate. It will take time for all the new arrivals to gel, which has been reflected in their start to the Top 14, but they will improve as the season progresses. However, opting to switch their home date with Harlequins to Nantes could backfire.
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