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Champions League 2012: Most Disappointing Performers in Group Stages

Saakib ZafraniCorrespondent IIOctober 24, 2012

Champions League 2012: Most Disappointing Performers in Group Stages

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    It's still early in the group stages of the Champions League, but some teams have managed to play themselves out of contention already. 

    Most of them are teams we all knew would not have a real shot at the final anyways, but there are a handful of teams among early tournament favorites with regrettable starts thus far. 

    Certain players have not shown up ready for the occasion and have cost their clubs dearly. Fortunately for the clubs and players in the next few slides, there's still hope to right the ship and get through to the next round. 

Manchester City

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    A loss on the road at the Santiago Bernabeu might have been acceptable for Manchester City, but the manner in which they lost was unforgivable.

    Five goals in the final half hour of the game provided for plenty of fireworks. Twice City took the lead and twice they gave it away.

    In the 90th minute, when it looked as though City might get away with a point, disaster struck in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo.

    The game ended unceremoniously for Roberto Mancini, as he found himself at the bottom of a 3-2 scoreline. 

    Still, despite giving away a hard-earned three points on the road, a loss against Madrid was acceptable. 

    A draw against Borussia Dortmund at home was anything but. 

    An errant pass from Jack Rodwell in the 61st minute found Marco Reus, who worked his way through the defense and got the best of Joe Hart. 

    Were it not for a handball penalty in the 90th minute from Dortmund, City would've dropped six points. Mario Balotelli's penalty secured one point for the Citizens. 

Chelsea

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    So far in Europe, Chelsea haven't looked like the side they are in the Premier League. 

    They started their campaign in the group stages hosting Italy's top side Juventus. It was a tough matchup by any standard, but a 2-2 draw at home is not the way the Blues would've liked to start. 

    They seemed to get things going against Nordsjælland on the road, as they scored four goals and kept a clean sheet. They looked like the side that won the Champions League a season ago. 

    In the following match against Shakhtar Donetsk, defensive miscues saw Chelsea trailing 2-0 into the closing stages of the game. An 88th-minute goal from Oscar proved nothing more than a consolation for the reigning champs.

    A deflection from John Terry in the third minute of the match saw the ball land at the feet of Alex Teixeira, who was all too eager to finish in front of Petr Cech. Loose marking by Ashley Cole proved to be the chief culprit, but a handful of mistakes led to the goal. 

    A turnover from Eden Hazard just seven minutes into the second half proved to be the dagger in the hearts for the Blues as Shakhtar found themselves in a 2-on-1 and finished off Cech once more. 

    Now, Chelsea sits on four points out of a possible nine. They're still in position to advance to the next round, but if they don't start to emulate their form in the Premiership, they might find themselves on the outside looking in. 

Juventus

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    In similar fashion to Chelsea, Juventus have shined in their league but disappointed in Europe. 

    Out of a possible nine points, they've only managed to pick up three from their group, and currently they're on the outside looking in as far as advancing goes. 

    A great result drawing against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge saw their campaign start off on the right foot.

    Then they stumbled while hosting Shakhtar Donetsk in Turin. A 1-1 draw at home was embarrassing to say the least. 

    Now it appears as though they've fallen and can't get up having drawn against Nordsjælland, a team that the rest of the group has had no problem dispatching. 

    Juventus is in real danger of missing the elimination dance if they can't get back on their front foot, and soon. 

FC Braga

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    Talk about opportunities missed. FC Braga is not a side that has any business leading their group, and they aren't.

    But they could have.

    Leading Manchester United 2-0, the stars seemed to be aligning for Braga. Even a point would have been a tremendous result. 

    Considering there was only one time in Champions League history that a team came back to win from a 2-0 deficit, one would have thought Braga were fairly safe. 

    And then came United. 

    A header from from Chicharito Hernandez in the 25th minute brought the game back within reach. Another header in the 75th broke the hearts of Braga. They had conceded to Jonny Evans in the 62nd minute.

    By game's end, instead of Braga pulling off the biggest upset of the tournament, United had pulled off one of the most unlikely comebacks in the tournament's history.

    Mathematically, Braga are still in the fight, but after suffering a loss like that, they have to be deflated. 

Celtic

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    In similar fashion to Braga, Celtic had a real opportunity to upset Barcelona, at Camp Nou no less. 

    Celtic got on the board early from a deflection by Javier Mascherano, but Barcelona managed to equalize in the final minute of the half as Andres Iniesta put the ball past Fraser Forster. 

    Still, a draw against Barcelona in their house would be considered an upset.

    Celtic managed to hold off Barcelona until the final seconds of the game, when Jordi Alba nicked in a ball that got past the entire Celtic defense in the fourth minute of stoppage time. 

    It was instant heartbreak for Celtic and a huge sigh of relief for Barcelona. 

    Unlike Braga, however, Celtic hold the second position in a relatively weak group besides Barcelona. They have a real shot at advancing if they just keep up their play. 

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