by Ewan McQueen  

Group G will surely see Barcelona emerge as group winners and they have every chance of doing so with a 100% record.

The battle for second place will provide the most intrigue for fans as Benfica, Spartak Moscow and Celtic try to get through to the knockout phase.

Interestingly, Celtic are the only champions in this group, but will still be ranked as outsiders in the group such as the calibre of the opposition.

Messi: Barcelona’s superstar will be gunning for glory again

Barcelona kick off their campaign with a home tie against Spartak Moscow tomorrow night and will be confident of getting their first three points under their belt.

They have started the season in imperious form, winning their opening four league matches ensuring they are the only side in La Liga with a 100% record so far.

Lionel Messi has already scored six goals this season and despite Tito Vilanova’s side losing out to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup, they will be too strong for everyone in the group and will be looking to win the competition for the third time in five seasons.

 

Cardozo: Can the Benfica hitman inspire his side to the last 16?

Portuguese Primeira Liga runners-up Benfica have already started the current campaign well. They sit top of the table after three games, remaining unbeaten and scoring an impressive ten goals in the process.

However, they have lost two of their most impressive performers from last season as Javi Garcia has moved to Man City and Axel Witsel has gone to Zenit St Petersburg.

Despite this, with the impressive Oscar Cardozo and Rodrigo up front they are the favourites to join Barcelona in the last 16 especially after they topped a group featuring Manchester United in last years competition.

 

McGeady: Winger has a point to prove against Celtic

Russian side Spartak Moscow will prove a tough test for anyone heading over to the Russian capital but they are currently in very indifferent form.

After eight league games they have only won four and currently sit sixth in the league.

However, they may have an advantage in the fact that they are longer into their season than their group opponents and with Aiden McGeady keen to prove himself against former employers Celtic they may well fancy their chances of going further in this season’s competition, despite having the toughest possible start away to Barcelona.

 

Brown: Can the Celtic captain drive his side to upsetting the odds?

Celtic are making their first appearance in the Champions League group stages since the 2008-09 season and will be hoping that lack of Champions League experience in recent seasons doesn’t count against them.

They comfortably won last seasons SPL, but currently lie fifth in the table this season having won only two of their opening five league matches.

However, their European form has been impressive having seen off HJK Helsinki and Helsingborg IF to reach the group stages.

They beat both sides home and away in each leg and if they can recreate some of the old magic at Celtic park in their home matches, a knock-out spot isn’t out of the question.

A drop down into the Europa League looks more likely though for Neil Lennon’s side.

 

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