UEFA Champions League 2012: Dangerous Teams Lurking Behind First-Place Sides

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2012

MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 06:  Kevin Prince Boateng of AC Milan dejeced during the UEFA Champions League group C match between AC Milan and Malaga CF at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on November 6, 2012 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Just because a team isn't in first place of their UEFA Champions League group right now doesn't mean that they won't be in the end.

The first-place side must still fear the teams lurking behind them in the group's standings. Being in first place is always nice, but it also paints a gigantic target on your back. Certain teams are talented enough to take advantage of that.

Group play forces each team to play a home-and-away series against the other teams in its pool, so there's still plenty of time to mix things up before now and the tournament's first knockout stage.

Let's look at three dangerous teams that are waiting to pounce on any weakness shown by a first-place side.


AC Milan

Malaga hasn't lost yet, but AC Milan was able to play them to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday. Tying Group C's top team could be the jolt Milan needs as they prepare to play Anderlecht on November 21.

There's no denying this team's slow start, but the talent is still there. Finding consistency is going to be the key, especially in the attacking third.

Alexandre Pato showed that he's capable of finding the net on Tuesday, despite being out of the lineup for some time, and he did it against what has been a daunting defense. Malaga hadn't allowed a goal in five UCL matches, but he was able to penetrate the defense and beat the keeper with an expertly placed header.

It was only one moment, but Milan played an excellent game overall. Malaga was red hot entering the game, and playing with the first-place team shows what this squad is capable of when they focus.

Finding a reliable attack is still an issue, but this team plays well enough in its defensive zone to keep itself in games.



Juventus has more than enough talent to challenge for the top of Group E, and they showed that by tying Chelsea 4-4 in their first group match. Even better, the team defeated Nordsjælland 4-0 in their more recent match.

Allowing four goals to Chelsea isn't really something to be disappointed in. No one likes to allow that many, but it's Chelsea. They're pretty good. The defensive third is definitely an area for Juventus to improve, but they've already proved that they can play with their biggest competition in the group.

Arturo Vidal and Sebastian Giovinco have improved their attacking skills, giving the Bianconeri a more versatile offense. Assuming that the defense plays like it did in the second match, rather than the first against the Blues, this team will be just fine.

Keeping things tight in the defensive third will be a big sticking point moving forward for this squad. If they can do that and turn those defended plays into dangerous counterattacks, this team will be very dangerous for the duration of group play.

Paris Saint-German FC

It's only a matter of time until PSG catches FC Porto in the Group A standings. With 10 goals for and just two against, this team has played very well through its initial contests in all thirds of the field.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the most dangerous attackers in the world. His presence alone gives PSG a chance to thwart anyone's defense. The midfield offers him plenty of support, and the defense has withstood the majority of attacks so far.

Because of Ibrahimovic's talent up top, teams must respect this squad at all times. He puts more stress on the other team, and that makes everyone around him better. It also makes the opposing team nervous because they can never be sure when he's going to take off and score a huge goal.

Defensively, PSG is solid as well. Thiago Silva does a great job on the back end, and he's got talent around him. The ability to get the ball out quickly onto the attack stems from these guys, and they fill their roles well.

Points-wise, this team isn't first in the group, but they should be when all is said and done.