By David Salazar (staff@latinospost.com) | First Posted: Sep 17, 2012 08:53 PM EDT

Barcelona's David Villa is congratulated by team mate Lionel Messi (R) after scoring a goal against Getafe during their Spanish first division soccer match at Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium in Getafe, near Madrid, September 15, 2012.
(Photo : REUTERS/Sergio Perez (SPAIN - 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 G.

Barcelona

The champions two years ago saw their tournament end prematurely last season at the hands of a stubborn Chelsea side that eventual became champions. Barca was struggling with injuries last season but is off to a tremendous 4-0 start with Lionel Messi playing his greatest football. The Argentine has 6 goals in four matches and has carried the team to victory time and again. And he is only the beginning. When you look at how much depth permeates Barcelona, it is hard to ignore them as tournament favorites.

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Benfica

Currently in a tie for first place with FC Porto in the Portuguese League, Benfica had a solid tournament last season with a first place finish in their group and a run to the quarter finals where they lost to eventual champion Chelsea. Maxi Pereira, Oscar Cardozo, Rodrigo, Enzo Perez, and Eduardo Salvio make this a potent offensive club with strong talent on the back end. A second place finish is not too much to ask, but with Barcelona peaking, first place may be impossible.

Celtic

The Scots are likely in this tournament for the experience but playing for pride may create some surprises from this squad. Of course, Giorgas Samaras will be the key to this team's chances, but they likely don't make it out of the group stage unless something catastrophic happens around them.

Spartak Moscow

The Copa del Sol winners have started off decently in the Russian league, but not well enough to stay out of 6th place in the group. But the season is still young and this team is full of surprises. They could potentially take second place in the group, but they will need to secure wins over Celtic, and play strong against Benfica. A draw against Barcelona or even a win would be immensely helpful.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2012
Time Home   Away STAGE TV VENUE
2:45 ET Barcelona  v Spartak Moscow Group G   Estadio Camp Nou
2:45 ET Celtic  v Benfica Group G   Celtic Park
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2012
Time Home   Away STAGE TV VENUE
12:00 ET Spartak Moscow  v Celtic Group G   Luzhniki Stadium
2:45 ET Benfica  v Barcelona Group G   Estadio da Luz
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2012
Time Home   Away STAGE TV VENUE
12:00 ET Spartak Moscow  v Benfica Group G   Luzhniki Stadium
2:45 ET Barcelona  v Celtic Group G   Estadio Camp Nou
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2012
Time Home   Away STAGE TV VENUE
2:45 ET Benfica  v Spartak Moscow Group G   Estadio da Luz
2:45 ET Celtic  v Barcelona Group G   Celtic Park
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2012
Time Home   Away STAGE TV VENUE
12:00 ET Spartak Moscow  v Barcelona Group G   Luzhniki Stadium
2:45 ET Benfica  v Celtic Group G   Estadio da Luz
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012
Time Home   Away STAGE TV VENUE
2:45 ET Barcelona  v Benfica Group G   Estadio Camp Nou
2:45 ET Celtic  v Spartak Moscow Group G   Celtic Park

Prediction

Barcelona: 6 wins, 18 pts

Benfica: 3 wins, 2 losses, 1 draw, 10 pts

Spartak Moscow: 2 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw, 7 pts

Celtic: 0 wins, 6 losses, 0 pts

Barcelona starts their tournament with 6 perfect wins while Benfica wins the games it needs to win to get through.

 

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

 

 

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