It’s the next-to-last round of the UCL Group Phase, and as the English commonly say — “This is officially squeaky bum time.”
For a number of teams, the next result will be the difference between advancing to the Knockout Round, or falling into the Europa League, or elimination altogether. Elsewhere, a few teams that have comfortably progressed will be aiming to seal first place in the group. Finally, there are a few already eliminated teams that will be gunning for a Europa spot as consolation.
In this round of matches, just about everyone has something to play for, which should make for quality viewing.
Here are the fixtures for Matchday 5:
Tuesday 27th November
- AEK Athens vs Ajax
- CSKA Moscow vs FC Viktoria Plzen
- Bayern Munich vs Benfica
- Hoffenheim vs Shakhtar Donetsk
- Juventus vs Valencia
- Lyon vs Manchester City
- Manchester United vs BSC Young Boys Bern
- Roma vs Real Madrid
Wednesday 28th November
- Atletico Madrid vs Monaco
- Lokomotiv Moscow vs Galatasaray
- Borussia Dortmund vs Club Brugge
- FC Porto vs Schalke
- Napoli vs Crvena Zvezda
- PSV Eindhoven vs Barcelona
- Paris Saint-Germain vs Liverpool
- Tottenham vs Inter Milan
Here are some of the factors to consider ahead of the coming round:
As always, our first port of call is the current UCL Group Table, which helps us to gauge the ambition of the respective teams. Simply put, the team with something to play for stands a better chance of getting a positive result, giving us better odds of Fantasy League points.
Barcelona is the only team already confirmed as through to the next round. They’ll will be aiming to seal 1st place in UCL Group B. Elsewhere at the top of their respective Groups, teams like Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, FC Porto, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Roma, Real Madrid and Juventus are looking to confirm their passage to the knockout round.
There are some tight group matches on offer, such as Tottenham vs Inter Milan, Liverpool vs PSG, Real Madrid vs Roma and Lyon vs Manchester City which should serve up some scintillating football.
Lastly, at the other end of the spectrum, I’ve got my eye on the already eliminated teams who have little to play for besides pride. Teams like Monaco, PSV, Lokomotiv Moscow, AEK Athens, Viktoria Plzen and Young Boys have registered a point or less in the competition and could serve as cannon fodder for the big guns. I’m virtually frothing at the mouth for the possible points on offer here.
With so many permutations in play, I’m predicting a flurry of goals and points to be had in this critical round of matches. Now may even be a good opportunity to burn one of your Boosters to gain much needed ground in your mini leagues.
That said, here are my UCL Matchday 5 Player Picks:
David De Gea (€6.0m, Manchester United vs Young Boys)
Manchester United just can’t seem to get themselves out of the mire. Nevertheless, they will be expected to do the business here to put themselves into the driver’s seat for qualification from Group H. I’m backing the Spanish #1 for a clean sheet against the unfancied Swiss outfit.
David Ospina (€5.0m, Napoli vs Crvena Zvezda)
Group C has lived up to its billing as the Group of Death. Napoli will need to grab this crucial home win if they are to be in the running for qualification in Matchday 6. A clean sheet should be on the cards for the Colombian shot stopper.
Wojciech Szcezney (€5.5m, Juventus vs Valencia)
Juventus were tripped up in their last home match against Manchester United, putting their qualification on hold. The Polish goalkeeper should fancy his chances for a clean sheet against the relatively shot-shy Spanish outfit.
Roman Burki (€6.0m, Borussia Dortmund vs Club Brugge)
The Dortmund first choice returns from injury and should be in prime form as the Germans aim to seal qualification to the next round.
Andre Onana (€4.5m, AEK Athens vs Ajax)
The Dutch Champions have a golden opportunity to qualify for the next round. Athens have been woeful in front of goal in this competition so Cameroonian goalie is favored to earn a clean sheet.
Ashley Young (€4.9m, Manchester United vs Young Boys SC)
Manchester United’s England full back is on set pieces and serving up crosses, which augur well for point returns against an accomodating Young Boys team.
Lukasz Piszczek (€6.0m, Borussia Dortmund vs Club Brugge)
The Polish full back has been struggling with injuries this season, but a league goal on the weekend is a nice warm up for visiting Monaco. I see point potential on either end of the pitch.
Mario Rui (€4.0m Napoli vs Crvena Zvezda)
Napoli will bring the fire to this crucial Group C encounter and should leave little room at the back for visiting Crvena Zvezda. The Portuguese fullback gets forward well so could be a good shout for points at either end.
Filipe Luis (€5.9m, Atletico Madrid vs Monaco)
The Brazilian left back should be a good shout for a clean sheet and maybe even an assist against out of sorts Monaco.
Matthijs De Ligt (€5.5m, AEK Athens vs Ajax)
The Dutch stopper is blossoming into one of Europe’s most coveted defenders. He will marshal an Ajax team with a great chance to progress to the knockout round in this crucial away encounter.
Jadon Sancho (€5.0m, Borussia Dortmund vs Club Brugge)
The youthful England hotshot is in a rich vein of form and available at a bargain basement price. The Brugge defense will be in for a busy afternoon against the marauding Germans.
Raheem Sterling (€9.5m, Manchester City vs Lyon)
How hot is this guy right now? The English winger is currently Manchester City’s premium attacking outlet and a strong shout for attacking points against Lyon.
Nikola Vlasic (€6.6m, CSK Moscow vs Viktoria Plzen)
The Russian champs have a golden opportunity to gain some much needed ground in Group G when Plzen come to town. Vlasic is a major goal threat from midfield and should be involved here.
Cengiz Under (€7.2m, Roma vs Real Madrid)
If Real Madrid’s 3-0 weekend defeat to Eibar is anything to go by, Roma could be in for a treat. The sensational young Turk has been making waves in Europe and may well further boost his burgeoning reputation here.
Mo Salah (11.0m, Liverpool vs PSG)
Surely we weren’t going to forget about him right? The Egyptian midfielder/striker seems to have rediscovered his best form. A crucial Group C clash against visiting PSG has all the makings of a special Champions League night — one that Salah should relish.
Harry Kane (€11.0m, Tottenham vs Inter Milan)
This Group B encounter is as critical as they come. A win here for Spurs will place them back into the reckoning for a comeback qualification. They will be buoyed by a massive domestic win over London rivals Chelsea and will also be aiming for revenge against Inter Milan. Captain Harry is the main man to watch.
Antoine Griezmann (€10.5m, Atletico Madrid vs Monaco)
The French marksman will be the tormentor in chief against a Monaco side shorn of defenders due to injury. Atletico’s weekend draw against Barcelona position them as a team coming into form, and this could be a good opportunity for “Griezy” to stamp his authority on the competition.
Andrej Kramaric (€7.6m, Hoffenheim vs Shakhtar Donetsk)
The Croatian international striker has been in red hot form for club and country. He has scored in consecutive league matches and should lead the line for free scoring Hoffenheim in a game that reeks of goals.
Luis Suarez (€10.5m, PSV vs Barcelona)
With qualification already comfortably sealed, Barcelona will be looking to put some distance between themselves and the competition in Group B. Count on the Uruguayan hitman to feast on a fallen PSV outfit facing a daunting task against the visiting Catalans.
Robert Lewandowski (€11.0m, Bayern Munich vs Benfica)
A constant in our picks, the Polish international’s goal threat is immune to Bayern Munich’s variable form. The German champions will be searching for that win on the back of his goals to tie up Group E.
Lorenzo Insigne (€8.5m, Napoli vs Crvena Zvezda)
The diminutive striker will be smack in the middle of the action as Napoli must win this home encounter.
Cristiano Ronaldo (€12.0m, Juventus vs Valencia)
Expect the Champions League’s all time leading goalscorer to build on his enviable record against visiting Valencia. A win here should seal first place in Group H for Juventus.
How did your team fare in Match-day 4? What changes are you making? Do you plan to use any of your chips? Which players are on your radar for this round of matches? And which matches will you watch as a fan? Let us know in the comments below!