Paris St Germain's coach Carlo Ancelotti and and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic attend a news conference on the eve of their Champions League soccer match against Dynamo Kiev at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris September 17, 2012.
(Photo : REUTERS/Benoit Tessier (FRANCE - Tags: SPORT SOCCER))
The 2012-13 Champions League Group Stage sees its first round of games take place on Tuesday. 32 club squads will compete to see which will prevail Europe's top club. Here is a look at Group A.
The Croatian club had a near perfect summer in qualifying for the Champions League as they won five of six matches and tied the other one. Ante Rukavina led them in goals with three but the squad had some supplementary scoring up top from Fatos Bequiraj and Duje Cop. This team and coach Ante Cacic will be on a mission to avoid last year's forgettable run at the Champions League in which the squad lost all six matches and embarrassed themselves thoroughly. While their group may be easier than it was last year (Real Madrid, Lyon, Ajax), they are still considered the underdogs of the group and could be staring at a similar if not identical last place finish in the group.
The Ukrainian squad has gotten off to a good start in the Ukrainian Premier League with seven wins in nine matches and they will need to continue this sharp play in a tough group. They start their tournament in France against Paris St. Germain (PSG), a squad they eliminated them form the2008/09 quarter final. Dinamo Kiev has strength throughout the lineup, but the question comes down to comes down to whether this is enough to take on teams like Porto FC and PSG. Kiev could be looking at anywhere from first to third in the group depending on how the other squads are able to deal with their individual pressures.
Paris St. Germain
The team with the most pressure and the most to prove. This is the first time in 8 years that PSG has been in the Champions League. But investments from Qatar have finally given this squad life and essential additional of Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi, and Javier Pastore have made this squad one of the elite again. No one will overlook the importance of adding Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who leads the French Ligue 1 with five goals in five games. Ibrahimovic has never won a Champions League but he has stated that it is his priority to win the Ligue 1 title. He is the key to propelling PSG's offense forward and will need to be a difference maker if this squad wants to get out of the group. Thye have a shot at first place if all the pieces come together.
The Portuguese squad now enters its 17th Champions League, the second highest number by any club in history. They are the bonafide favorites to take the crown of the group as they are stacked with the likes of Fabiano, Alex Sandro, Silvestre Varela, Maicon, Joao Moutinho, and James Rodriguez. They will be without Rolando for their opening match against Dinamo Zagreb, but should be able to manage just fine. They are expected to get out of tehg roup, but must first manage the pressure of being the favorite in almost all their matches. More importantly, this squad failed to get out of their group last year and must prove that it was simply a fluke.
|WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2012|
|2:45 ET||Dynamo Kiev||v||Dinamo Zagreb||Group A||Kiev Olympic Stadium|
|2:45 ET||FC Porto||v||Paris Saint-Germain||Group A||Estadio do Dragao|
|WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2012|
|2:45 ET||FC Porto||v||Dynamo Kiev||Group A||Estadio do Dragao|
|2:45 ET||Dinamo Zagreb||v||Paris Saint-Germain||Group A||Maksimir Stadium|
|TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2012|
|2:45 ET||Dynamo Kiev||v||FC Porto||Group A||Kiev Olympic Stadium|
|2:45 ET||Paris Saint-Germain||v||Dinamo Zagreb||Group A||Parc des Princes|
|WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2012|
|2:45 ET||FC Porto||v||Dinamo Zagreb||Group A||Estadio do Dragao|
|2:45 ET||Dynamo Kiev||v||Paris Saint-Germain||Group A||Kiev Olympic Stadium|
|TUESDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2012|
|2:45 ET||Dinamo Zagreb||v||Dynamo Kiev||Group A||Maksimir Stadium|
|2:45 ET||Paris Saint-Germain||v||FC Porto||Group A||Parc des Princes|
FC Porto: 4 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw, 13 Points
PSG: 3 wins, 1 loss, 2 draws, 11 points
Dyanamo Kiev: 2 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw, 7 points
Dinamo Zagreb: 1 win, 5 losses, 3 points
Porto wins the group.PSG shows up to play. Ibrahimovic will probably score three or four goals in the group stage to lead PSG. Zagreb improves over last year, but with only one win.
Read about other groups at the Champions League.
Group A Preview: ASG, FC Porto, Dyano Kiev, Dinamo Zagreb
Group B Preview: Olympiakos, Montpelier, Schalke 04, Arsenal
Group C Preview: AC Milan, Malaga, Zenit St Petersburg, Anderlecht
Group D Preview: Real madrid, Manchester City, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund
Group E Preview: Juventus, Chelsea, Shakhtar Donetsk, FC Nordsjaelland
Group F Preview: Bayern Munich, Valencia, Lille, Bate Borisov
Group G Preview: Barcelona, Benfica, Spartak Moscow, Celtic
Group H Preview : Manchester United, Braga, Galatasaray, CFR Cluj-Napoca