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Champions League 2012: Clubs That Must Improve Play to Advance to Round of 16

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06:  Mario Balotelli of Manchester City reacts to a missed chance during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium on October 6, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2012

The group stage of UEFA Champions League is already half over, and some teams are not in good shape.

Poor play and sometimes bad luck has caused some shocking results in the early going in this prestigious tournament. 

While each club still has three games to earn one of those valuable spots in the Round of 16, a few squads will be on the outside looking in if things do not improve.

These popular clubs have the most on the line in the next few matches.

 

Manchester City

As last year's winner of the English Premier League, a lot was expected out of Manchester City in the Champions League. However, fans have been left with only disappointment.

The club squandered away an opportunity against Real Madrid in the first match, conceding goals in the 87th and 90th minutes to lose 3-2. This was followed by a fortunate draw against Borussia Dortmund and a loss to Ajax Amsterdam. 

As a result, Manchester City only has one point and is last in Group D. 

Although the club has still not lost in league play this season, the performance in Champions League is cause for concern. Even with a difficult draw, an early exit in the group stage would be disappointing for everyone involved.

 

Bayern Munich

Usually a team with two wins in three games would be in much better shape, but that is not the case in Group F.

Three teams are currently tied with six points after all beating each other. Unfortunately, Bayern Munich sits in third place due to goal differential.

The German club has been dominating Bundesliga this year, with a seven-point lead and a plus-26 goal differential. However, the 2012 UCL runner-up cannot afford another loss in group play if it wants to improve upon last year's finish. 

 

Chelsea

Like Manchester City, Chelsea has performed very well in league play this season. However, the Champions League performances have not been great.

Chelsea qualified by winner the entire tournament last year, but it has only managed four points in the first three games.

To make matters worse, key midfielder Juan Mata is dealing with an injury and might be unavailable for the foreseeable future. 

The club is not in bad shape, but it must win its home rematch against Shakhtar Donetsk after losing on the road. Otherwise, the defending champs will be in danger of ending its run in the first phase.

 

Juventus

The Italian club earned entry to this tournament by winning Serie A last year, and it is on its way towards winning once again. 

However, Juventus is part of a very tough group with Chelsea and the surprising Shakhtar Donetsk. 

So far, this team has only been able to manage three draws, but it needs more than one point per match at this stage.

After allowing the first goal in all three matches so far, Juventus has to come out strong in its next game against FC Nordsjaelland. If the club is able to earn three points with a big win, it will have a chance at advancing to the next stage of the tournament. 

 

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