The stage is set in Europe to launch the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League season. Never Manage Alone Orchestra has entered the exciting stages of its masterpiece with lead violinist Prakhar providing his insight on How to Play UCL Fantasy. He also gives us tips and guidance on the best player picks of Matchday 1. Orchestra conductor David Brian has summarized the staff provisional picks. Considering my role as a drummer in this orchestra, credit must also go to Jeff acting like a sound engineer bringing all the sounds together to mix the perfect melody.
Match Tips for Selections
Tuesday fixtures (20-Oct-2020)
- Zenit vs Club Brugge: High clean sheet potential for Zenit defenders and goalkeeper
- Lazio vs Dortmund: Avoid defenders and keepers; look for high scoring/assisting opportunities.
- RB Leipzig vs Istandbul Basaksehir: Any high performer from Leipzig should be able to return some good points.
- PSG vs Man United: Top notch match where everything can go right or wrong. I would personally avoid it except for a couple of premium names in attack.
- Dynamo Kyiv vs Juventus: Sounds like a good place to invest but Juventus usually go for the 1-0 or 2-0 wins in such games. Go for goalkeeper and/or defenders.
- Barcelona vs Ferencvaros: This is one of the few matches where many goals are expected. Invest in attack and midfield.
- Rennes vs Krasnodar: It is worth taking a risk on one Rennes player but not more than one since they have four difficult games ahead.
- Chelsea vs Seville: Both teams are known for conceding many goals since last season. I would expect a high scoring tie here as well.
Wednesday Fixtures (21-Oct-2020)
- Salzburg vs Lokomotiv Moscow: Expect Daka to go all out following Haaland example.
- Bayern vs Atletico: Scroll down to get your tips directly from the expert!
- Ajax vs Liverpool: This could go either way with a slight advantage for Liverpool, but it is unpredictable to say the least.
- Midtjylland vs Atalanta: The Italians will look to have a more comfortable start this season with all the first time jitters dealt with last season.
- Real Madrid vs Shakhtar Donetsk: Should be a straight forward tie for the Spaniards. Benzema cannot be anymore consistent in his career.
- Inter Milan vs Monchengladbach: Advantage to Inter, but the Germans have been performing very well against the big teams in recent years.
- Man City vs Porto: Aguero is back, and Pep Guardula has more midfielders than last season. Stay away and keep your heart intact. De Bruyne may be the only safe bet, but even he is coming back from injury.
- Olympiacos vs Marseille: a tough game to call. This one is to watch, study and pick a player in the next round from either team.
Interview: Bayern Munchen vs Atletico Madrid
It was my pleasure to communicate with and interview SBNation.com bloggers for both teams. Bayern are the title holders, and Atletico is the team that knocked off the previous title holders during last season’s UCL. Here is how both interviews went:
MiQ: Hello Jeremy, and deep thanks to www.intothecalderon.com for participating in this mini-interview! Congratulations are in order for Atletico Madrid for making the Champions League Group Stage yet again. That Liverpool two-legged victory in last season’s knockout stage is as memorable as it gets for football fans.
Jeremy (Atletico): Hey Ghassan, thanks for having me. The Liverpool tie is still very prominent in the minds of many Atlético supporters, and the team definitely is looking to make more memories this year — the eighth straight in the Champions League.
MiQ: You are most welcome. Introducing also Chuck with deep thanks to www.bavarianfootballworks.com for participating in this mini-interview! Congratulations are late but in order for taking five out of five trophies in the 2019-20 season and looking forward to the 6th personally. Three best players out of four is no small feat in Europe!
Chuck (Bayern): Thanks for having me. Keeping up with Bayern Munich has been an absolute blast and exhausting all at the same time! The club has been on such a tremendous roll, and it has been wild to follow along over the past few months.
MiQ: You are most welcome! In order to provide our readers with an advantage in this season’s UCL fantasy, we would love to hear your opinion on a few subjects if you do not mind. Firstly, how do El Atleti and Bayern fans feel about the group draw and what are your expectations?
Jeremy (Atletico): There are a few nerves about the upcoming group stage but an anticipation that Atlético will get through as runners-up. Bayern are the best team in Europe and will be as challenging a matchup as Liverpool were last season. There’s a familiar foe in Lokomotiv Moscow and a new rival in Red Bull Salzburg, and taking as many points as possible from those games will see Atleti through to the knockout stage once more.
Chuck (Bayern) I think most Bayern Munich fans are confident with the draw results. Bayern tends to take care of business against clubs from “lower” leagues (I hate using that term), so while Lokomotiv Moscow and RB Salzburg will represent good competition, they are just the type of teams that Bayern typically handles in the group stage. Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, is a different beast. They can really muck up a game and make it hell for any team to play against.
The fixtures between Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid are going to be fascinating. Can Atleti stifle the Bayern Munich offense? Or will Bayern’s overall talent just eventually wear down Atletico Madrid? I will say though, Salzburg has enough top-end talent to make things interesting. With players like Dominik Szoboszlai and Patson Daka (among others), it wouldn’t be shocking to see Jesse Marsch’s team apply a lot of pressure on both Bayern and Atleti.
MiQ: UCL fantasy is based upon player price vs points return. As experts on the capital club of each country, who are the best consistent performers and who are the players we should stay away from when selecting our teams?
Jeremy (Atletico): Atlético can be tough to analyze for fantasy purposes, as the team’s style doesn’t result in scoring all that many goals. As far as the team’s most consistent and dangerous performers, I’d point to Jan Oblak, João Félix and Luis Suárez. Yannick Carrasco has some explosiveness too and could be a nice pickup — he scored over the weekend.
Chuck (Bayern): If you are looking for consistency, it does not get much better than Bayern Munich’s 1-2 punch of Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller. That duo has been phenomenal under Hansi Flick, but they are not alone by any means. Serge Gnabry is a player to watch, and midfielders Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka can control the center of the pitch AND make significant offensive contributions.
Defensively, Alphonso Davies is always a threat, but he is ceding some playing time to Lucas Hernandez at left-back. Both players typically turn in efforts that make fantasy owners happy. Oh... and when Leroy Sane returns from injury, he’ll be right at the top of the mix as well. As far as players you may want to avoid, the Bayern core of center-backs might struggle with continuity. At different times, Hansi Flick will use David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, Niklas Sule, and Lucas Hernandez as center-backs. Alaba has really struggled at times this season. He might have the weight of contract negotiations hanging over his head, which could make him a bit distracted. It is tough to find many Bayern players to avoid, though. Certainly Alaba and Davies represent some risk because of Flick’s rotations, but both also have the ability to make big fantasy contributions.
MiQ: Finally, what is your prediction for the opening match after both clubs had straight forward wins this Saturday?
Jeremy (Atletico): Atlético are big underdogs against Bayern, and all told, a draw in Germany would be an excellent result. Simeone’s defensive strategy usually works well in these games. I’ll be optimistic and go with a 1-1 score.
Chuck (Bayern): This will be a tough game, and Bayern Munich is really going to have to dig deep to overcome its extremely daunting schedule. I’ll say Bayern Munich will win 2-1, but it will not be a blowout by any means. I expect it to be tightly contested with both teams completely spent by the end of the match.
[Both writers were great sports and agreed to answer one additional question that may not be related to fantasy but important for both teams.]
MiQ: How does the “Partey” steal affect the dynamics of the team? Is it really worth it for a player to leave a UCL level club to a Europa League level club?
Jeremy (Atletico): Losing Thomas is a big deal, because he was Atlético’s best midfielder last year and was very important to how the side transitioned from defense to attack. The money on offer from Arsenal was enough to convince him to join that project over continuing with the only European club he had played for — otherwise, I don’t think he would have made the move.
MiQ: What is the general feel around Bayern’s transfer window activities. Any exciting prospect? Any regrettable transfers?
Chuck (Bayern): Bayern Munich’s transfer window provided much-needed depth. Leroy Sane was a no-brainer and an instant fit in the starting XI, while players like Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Bouna Sarr give Bayern veteran subs who have experience that should give Hansi Flick confidence when he needs to call upon them. Truthfully, I’d have preferred the club entrusted Chris Richards to fill that role, but you really can’t argue with a value buy like Sarr. Marc Roca was a bit of a steal from Espanyol, though he’ll likely be confined to being a bench player.
The most interesting move (arguably) was the loan for Benfica’s Tiago Dantas. We got to see Dantas play a bit for Bayern Munich II over the weekend, and he was very impressive. I was sad, however, to see Michael Cuisance go on a loan assignment to Olympique Marseille. He’s creative, offensively-minded, and has a real flair to his game. OM fans will love him. Overall, I think most Bayern Munich fans are happy with the major moves that were made. With this crazy schedule, Hansi Flick is going to have to lean heavily on some of those players to rest his starters.
MiQ: Thank you both for your participation and I am certain our readers will take this insight and apply it to their selection of UCL fantasy teams.
Team and Injury News
Notable injury news: Liverpool’s Van Dijk sustained a long-term knee ligament injury this weekend that will require surgery and 6-8 months recovery.
Form report: All of the Italian teams in the UCL failed to win their domestic league matches this weekend.
Follow this live chat and my twitter account @GhassanMiqdadi for more updates as training sessions are yet to take place making sudden injuries a possibility.
And make sure to join our NMA UCL fantasy league and finalize your picks ahead of the deadline!
Register for the fantasy UCL game here.
Then join the Never Manage Alone League.
League Code to join = 41AYZDUHUH08
Are we excited yet? Please join us in the comments below as we chat about our last minute roster tweaks and then the action as it unfolds live!