The second series of fixtures from the Group Stage of the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League have been disputed already and this time the bottom half of the Groups (E, F, G and H) played on the first day (Oct. 2) and the Groups from A to D played on Wednesday, October 3rd. England has Manchester United, Arsenal and the current trophy holder of the Champions League, Chelsea, on the top spot of their Groups (H, B and E). Meanwhile Spain counts with Málaga, Real Madrid and Barcelona lead the Groups C, D and G respectively. In the meantime, Manchester City and Valencia are in 3rd position of their groups (D and F).
The defending champion, Chelsea, and the 2011-12 Runners-up, Barça, left their rivals goalless on their 1st leg fixtures on Tuesday, when both clubs were visitors. The Blues went to Denmark to face FC Nordsjaelland at Parken Stadium, in Copenhagen and there isn’t much to say, except that they nailed it blasting the Danish squad with a 4-0; that gave them the lead on Goal Difference, but kept them tied with Shakhtar Donetsk on 4 points. The Catalans lived a similar story on their visit to the western neighbors, Benfica, at the Estádio de Luz, where they win 2-0 but finished with a bittersweet taste, after Carles Puyol dislocated his left elbow –which means that the Azulgranas will have to play for another couple of months without their captain.
The Red Devils had their second match of the Group Phase against the Romanian team CFR Cluj-Napoca, at the Stadionul Dr. Constantin Radulescu, in Cluj-Napoca. Early in the game (14′) a goal from the Greek, Pantelis Kapetanos, gave the hosts an advantage; however, United’s wingman Robin van Persie, even things up 15 minutes later. Then at 49′, the Dutch gave his side the lead and the 2-1 victory with an unusual goal, which resulted from a free-kick charged by Wayne Rooney, which sent the ball straight to van Persie’s way, who hit it with his shoulder into the bottom of the goal.
On Wednesday 3rd, Real Madrid had its first fixture against Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena, on which the Spanish club triumph with a 4-1 final score. The Portuguese star, Cristiano Ronaldo, opened the scoreboard 3 minutes from half-time and after that was relentless, achieving the first hat-trick of this stage. Ronaldo scored at 42′, 79′ and 81′, plus, in between his partner Karim Benzema scored one (at 48′) and the Amsterdammer, Niklas Moisander, put a mark on the hosts’ side.
During its visit to Anderlecht’s home, the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, Málaga repeated the results from its first game of the Group Stage, on which it smashed Zenit St. Peterburg with a 3-0. Those two perfect scores keep Los Boquerones, along with Porto, as the only two clubs that haven’t take a goal from its rivals so far.
On the other hand, Arsenal is doing better in the Champions than in the Barclays Premier League, where it has been bit inconsistent. The Gunners received on Wednesday the Greek champions, Olympiacos FC for their first leg encounter and after a slow beginning the English started to take control. At 42′ Gervinho placed the opening score, but with the Gunners still celebrating the advantage, a header from Kostas Mitroglou even things up right before half-time break. At the return, the forward Lukas Podolski gave his side the lead once again at 56′ and in the last minute his substitute, Aaron Ramsey –who entered in the 80th minute- grabbed a pass from Olivier Giroud and settle the score in 3-1.
In contrast, Porto and BATE Borisov, lead the Groups A and F respectively, since both teams had a perfect start defeating their first two opponents –that in fact were quite demanding. This has come as a surprise for many, after their performance from last season.
Evidently until now the teams from Spain and England have prevailed in this phase and now both nations have three teams leading a group and a fourth team on third position. After just the second round of matches is quite early to predict with certainty which teams would go through to the Knockout phase, but is important to keep an eye on these that have started roughly.