New York Yankees baseball legend and infamous wisecracker Yogi Berra (with emphasis on the wise) once remarked that it was “deja vu all over again.” While his apparition is more likely attending the insanely fun World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros at the moment, his Groundhog Day description quite aptly describes our current set of Champions League fixtures as we tune in for instant whiplash!
Will the results mirror those of the previous matchday, or will we see our shadows and some unexpected surprises?
We saw plenty of blowouts (Liverpool over Maribor, Spartak Moscow over Sevilla, Bayern Munich over Celtic, Paris Saint-Germain over Anderlecht, and Barcelona over Olympiacos). If PSG trounced Anderlecht 4-0 in Brussels, will the result be even uglier at Parc des Princes? Should we should expect more of the same from Barca, Bayern and ‘Pool, or will they have any trouble on the road this time? On the other hand, can Sevilla regroup and turn the tables at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium, or is it a lost cause for the Spaniards?
Most of the games were closer affairs, with several standing out:
- Manchester City blitzed to an early 2-0 lead at the Etihad, but Napoli made it interesting, cutting things close to a 2-1 final tally. With the Citizens coming off a tighter than expected, 3-2 weekend triumph over a mediocre Premier League side, West Brom, can the Light Blues (who just beat Sassuolo 3-1 in Serie A action) topple the Sky Blues at Stadio San Paolo?
- RB Leipzig won 3-2 hosting Porto, and that result certainly has a fair chance of reversing at Estádio do Dragão.
- Beşiktaş shocked AS Monaco at Stade Louis II, leaving the French side absolutely frantic as they now must travel to the Vodaphone Arena.
- Manchester United won a tight 1-0 contest at Benfica; will the gulf be wider at Old Trafford?
- Borussia Dortmund drew 1-1 at Apoel Nicosia and is coming off a 4-2 Bundesliga loss to Hannover 96, but surely they will expect better fortunes at Westfalenstadion.
- Similarly, Atletico Madrid was held to nil-nil at Qarabag, is coming off a 1-1 La Liga affair against Villareal and is absolutely desperate for three points at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano. Will the supposedly stronger sides respond at home or continue to disappoint?
- In another key draw, Chelsea and Roma entertained with a wild 3-3 game at Stamford Bridge. Will we see a similar, wide open and tightly contested affair at Stadio Olimpico, or will a more defensive-minded theme play out with one of the sides being able to impose its will?
Which key absences will tilt the scales?
Tottenham talisman Harry Kane is doubtful, while Real Madrid‘s Gareth Bale, Keylor Navas and Raphael Varane will miss via injury; given Spurs’ inability to score against Manchester United over the weekend, would being without Kane prove impossible to overcome, or is Madrid’s rash of problems the nail in their coffin?
Does Andrés Iniesta’s recent misfortune dent Barcelona’s chances? With Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski out, can Bayern cope on offense? Will Monaco be able to overcome the absence of Radamel Falcao? Does Liverpool have any worry with Philippe Coutinho a doubt on top of Sadio Mane being out? Is Benfica done with Luisão suspended?
Are you grabbing any of the expected replacements for any of those players? Or do you think those teams will struggle without their stars, making it worth sticking to other, better-supported stalwarts?
Should we expect any impactful strategic changes?
With the group stage only halfway completed, it’s still too early for managers to rest their stars or engage in major rotation. After all, while several clubs can be assured of advancing, the important #1 spot in each group remains up for grabs.
However, for the sides that lost in Matchday 3 or were held to unexpected draws (in addition to those with major injuries as mentioned), managers will be tempted to trot out different formations and starting line-ups. Which players could take advantage of any likely changes, and who may suffer?
Is PSG the team that every fantasy manager simply has to load up on?
Take a gander at this checklist:
- Dominant wins in all three matches.
- 12 goals scored as Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar have run rampant.
- A trio of clean sheets, with defenders Dani Alves, Layvin Kurzawa, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, and keeper Alphonse Areola racking up fantasy points.
- Home to minnow Anderlecht (basically the inverse of PSG with three losses, no goals scored and 10 allowed) for Matchday 4.
Can you afford not to have the maximum of three PSG players allowed in your fantasy squads? Is there instead a different major team (perhaps Barcelona, Manchester United or Manchester City) that is more vital? Or if you’re going in a thriftier direction, is one of the more surprising smaller sides more of a necessity in offering even better value (such as Beşiktaş or Spartak Moscow)?
Basel v. CSKA Moscow
Manchester United v. Benfica
Celtic v. Bayern Munich
Paris Saint-Germain v. Anderlecht
AS Roma v. Chelsea
Atletico Madrid v. Qarabag
Olympiakos v. Barcelona
Sporting Lisbon v. Juventus
*NOTE: Besiktas v. Monaco has an early start time of two hours and 45 minutes earlier than the other games, so be sure to make your Wednesday captain choice and/or other line-up changes ahead of time.
Liverpool v. Maribor
Sevilla v. Spartak Moscow
Napoli v. Manchester City
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Feynoord
*Beşiktaş v. AS Monaco
FC Porto v. RB Leipzig
Borussia Dortmund v. Apoel Nicosia
Tottenham Hotspur v. Real Madrid
Which games are you watching on Tuesday and Wednesday? What players are you expecting fantasy joy from? Have you made any last-minute changes have you made to your fantasy teams that you hope will pay off? Join in the comments below!