UEFA Champions League: 5 Possible Upsets to Watch out for in UCL Week 2
The UEFA Champions League is on once again this week, with all 16 teams playing their second group-stage match on either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Teams will be looking to either build on their solid performances from last week or rectify where they went wrong, with those losing sides desperate to find their first win of the competition and not fall too far behind in the qualification battle.
The matchups this week are just as good as they were last week, and as always, there are bound to be some fascinating results that shock and surprise us.
Here are five possible upsets to watch out for in the Champions League Week 2.
Juventus come into this fixture on top of the Italian domestic league, and with one point next to their name in the Champions League standings—a 2-2 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in which they played exceptionally well.
Thus at home, against a side from the Ukrainian Premier League, surely they'll have no problems picking up the three points, rights? Well, maybe not.
Shakhtar Donetsk are a brilliant attacking side and are simply in hot form so far this year—winning all 10 of their domestic fixtures this season. In that time, they've also managed to chalk up 3.4 goals per game on average and have conceded just five goals through their domestic season so far.
Henrik Mkhitaryan is one of the most unknown and underrated midfielders in world football, but his class and ability to spark an attack could well lead the probable Ukrainian champions to a stunning upset over the reigning Italian champions.
Manchester United are the overwhelming favorites to pick up their second victory of the UEFA Champions League so far against CFR Cluj, but with their defensive frailties, they have to be considered as a potential upset candidate this week.
The Red Devils' injuries to Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and in particular Nemanja Vidic are all big losses for the club that have left manager Sir Alex Ferguson with few options to choose from heading into their match this week.
The English giants were beaten at home by Tottenham Hotspur on the weekend—conceding three goals—and have been largely unconvincing at the back all season long. Combine that with injuries and the fact they're on the road against a largely unknown opponent, and it could be another night to forget for the Red Devils.
In their opening-round Champions League match, Anderlecht managed a 0-0 draw against AC Milan at the San Siro—a result that has perhaps prompted many into thinking that they are much better than they probably are this year.
Don't get me wrong—they are a good team, and a draw against a club like AC Milan at their home stadium is a very strong performance.
But let's also remember that the Italian club have been particularly poor this season and simply cannot seem to get anything going in attack. The result was more a matter of Milan not being very good rather than Anderlecht being very good, for if they were, they would have shown more in attack than they did in their opening match.
Malaga, on the other hand, were strong 3-0 winners over a very good Zenit St. Petersburg side, and while they were playing at home, the dominance of their win suggests that they should be good enough to win on the road as well.
The Spanish side are on the brink of becoming the next big team in La Liga, currently sitting third in this year's competition, with more wins to their name than Real Madrid so far. They have also conceded the fewest goals in the Spanish competition this year and haven't been beaten as of yet.
Definitely an upset opportunity in this one.
I know, I know—Manchester City at the Etihad are not to be messed with, but I'm still sticking with them as a potential giant that could be taken down this week.
The reigning English Premier League champions have played three domestic fixtures at home this year and have been largely unconvincing in all three. They had to come from behind against cellar dwellers Queens Park Rangers and Southampton, and they only managed a draw against Arsenal—which perhaps might indicate that their home form isn't what it was last year.
And for all those who will be quick to point out that they came mighty close to a result at the Bernabeu last week, I'd be willing to point out that they played Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the opening round of the Champions League.
That means that just because they geared up for a big match and played well is no cause for unrealistic optimism. They should be gearing themselves up for the Spanish champions at home in the Champions League. If they couldn't, I'd be asking several questions about Roberto Mancini as a manager.
Borussia Dortmund might not be the German Cup/Bundesliga double-winning team that they were last season, but with players like Robert Lewnandowski, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Marco Reus and Mario Gotze in their lineup, you definitely can't count out the reigning German champions—regardless of whether or not they're playing at the Etihad.
Our fifth and final possible upset of the week comes from Montpellier, who certainly showed against Arsenal two weeks ago that they are more than capable of causing some damage in the UEFA Champions League this season.
The reigning French champions have started the domestic season poorly this year and could well have conceded the title race to Marseille, Paris St. Germain and Lyon already—meaning that the Champions League gives them an extra tournament to focus on and play better in.
Who's the biggest chance at a Champions League upset?
And considering that Montpellier are yet to win at home, yet have won twice away from home, this could be a match for the unexpected records to continue for both teams—particularly if Montpellier can take their chances, unlike they did against Arsenal.
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre
Note: All statistics and results courtesy of SoccerStats.com
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