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.
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.
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.
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.
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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|2:45 ET||Barcelona||v||Benfica||Group G||Estadio Camp Nou|
|2:45 ET||Celtic||v||Spartak Moscow||Group G||Celtic Park|
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