Football Article

2012-13 Uefa Champions League Preview

2012-13 Uefa Champions League Preview Photo: TT

The 2012-13 Uefa Champions League begins on Tuesday evening, so Sports Pundit has taken a look at all 32 clubs, their star man and who is likely to progress through each group.

Group A

PSG Qualified as; French Ligue 1 runners-up Manager; Carlo Ancelotti Star man; Zlatan Ibrahimovic

FC Porto Qualified as; Portuguese champions Manager; Vitor Pereira Star man; Joao Moutinho

Dinamo Zagreb Qualified as; Croatian champions Manager; Ante Cacic Star man; Ivan Kelava

Dynamo Kiev Qualified as; Ukrainian runners-up Manager; Yuri Syomin Star man; Niko Kranjcar

Big-spending PSG and 2011 Europa League winners Porto are the hot favourites in this group, with the two Dy(i)namos unlikely to be able to cause too many major issues. PSG may have been seen as vulnerable but the draw has been kind to them which should allow their big guns time to settle and gel and ultimately progress while Porto will need to replace Hulk but should be strong enough.

Group B

Arsenal Qualified as; English third-place getters Manager; Arsene Wenger Star man; Santi Cazorla

Montpellier Qualified as; French champions Manager; Rene Girard Star man; Younes Belhanda

Olympiacos Qualified as; Greek champions Manager; Leonardo Jardim Star man; Marko Pantelic

Schalke Qualified as; German third-place getters Manager; Huub Stevens Star man; Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

The Gunners are the standout side in this group, however it’s anyone’s guess for the second spot with the French and Greek champions alongside Schalke, who two years ago reached the Champions League semifinals. Newboys Montpellier, without topscorer Olivier Giroud who has gone to Arsenal, have their work cut out for them.

Group C

AC Milan Qualified as; Italian runners-up Manager; Massimiliano Allegri Star man; Robinho

Malaga Qualified as; Spanish fourth-place getters Manager; Manuel Pellegrini Star man; Javier Saviola

Anderlecht Qualified as; Belgian champions Manager; John van den Brum Star man; Milan Jovanovic

Zenit St Petersburg Qualified as; Russian champions Manager; Luciano Spalletti Star man; Hulk

AC Milan’s early domestic season woes have made this group appear wide open, with big-spenders Malaga and Zenit looming large. Zenit made a huge splash when they landed Hulk and Axel Witsel for huge money earlier this month, while Malaga have purchased a lot of quality players over the past 18 months. Milan won’t want to make a poor start otherwise the pressure will firmly be on.

Group D

Real Madrid Qualified as; Spanish champions Manager; Jose Mourinho Star man; Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester City Qualified as; English champions Manager; Roberto Mancini Star man; Yaya Toure

Ajax Qualified as; Dutch champions Manager; Frank de Boer Star man; Christian Eriksen

Borussia Dortmund Qualified as; German champions Manager; Jurgen Klopp Star man; Mario Gotze

This season’s ‘Group of Death’ features four champions from four of the top leagues in Europe. Real and City should be favourites, with the Sky Blues sure to want to impress after failing to get through their group last term. Dortmund also didn’t reach the knockout phase last term and will be better for the experience adding spice to this group, with Ajax probably set for a battle to avoid last.

Group E

Chelsea Qualified as; Champions League holders Manager; Roberto Di Matteo Star man; Eden Hazard

Juventus Qualified as; Italian champions Manager; Antonio Conte Star man; Andrea Pirlo

Shakhtar Donetsk Qualified as; Ukrainian champions Manager; Mircea Lucescu Star man; Eduardo

Nordsjaelland Qualified as; Danish champions Manager; Kasper Hjulmand Star man; Jores Okore

Danish champions Nordsjaelland are up against it here with the European holders, Italian champions and former Europa League winners. Shakhtar have been a big hit in Europe in recent years and shouldn’t be underestimated, while the Blues and Juve are strong as ever.

Group F

Bayern Munich Qualified as; German runners-up Manager; Jupp Heynckes Star man; Arjen Robben

Valencia Qualified as; Spanish third-place getters Manager; Mauricio Pellegrino Star man; Fernando Gago

Lille Qualified as; French third-place getters Manager; Rudi Garcia Star man; Salomon Kalou

BATE Borisov Qualified as; Belarussian champions Manager; Viktor Goncharenko Star man; Renan Bressan

Bayern will be determined to dominate this group after losing last season’s final however Los Che loom as a dangerous opponent with Roberto Soldado firing. Lille will continue to aim to succeed in Europe but they’ve got a tough task ahead, while BATE appear to be making up the numbers.

Group G

Barcelona Qualified as; Spanish runners-up Manager; Tito Vilanova Star man; Lionel Messi

Benfica Qualified as; Portuguese runners-up Manager; Jorge Jesus Star man; Oscar Cardozo

Celtic Qualified as; Scottish champions Manager; Neil Lennon Star man; Georgios Samaras

Spartak Moscow Qualified as; Russian runners-up Manager; Unai Emery Star man; Emmanuel Emenike

Barca are the sure-bets to top this group, with Benfica – who have done so well in Europe for the past few seasons – expected to be the runners-up. Spartak shouldn’t be discounted but aren’t the big spenders like fellow Russians Zenit. Celtic will rely on home form to give themselves a chance.

Group H

Manchester United Qualified as; English runners-up Manager; Sir Alex Ferguson Star man; Robin Van Persie

Galatasaray Qualified as; Turkish champions Manager; Fatih Terim Star man; Selcuk Inan

Sporting Braga Qualified as; Portuguese third-place getters Manager; Jose Peseiro Star man; Alan

CFR Cluj Qualified as; Romanian champions Manager; Ioan Andone Star man; Pantelis Kapetanos

There’s no ways the Red Devils will want to repeat last season’s failure to reach the final 16 so they will be the hot favourites to brush aside all before them. Galatasaray are back in the Champions League and will fancy their chances against Braga and Cluj who have been around Europe the past few seasons.

Ben somerford
Sports Pundit staff writer
@bensomerford Australian journalist who specialises on all sports, focusing on football, tennis, basketball and racing, having written for global publications including FourFourTwo, AAP, Inside Futbol and many more....

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