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Champions League Fantasy Preview: Matchday 3

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Post your team in the comments below and ask our experts for advice. All readers are welcome to give their opinions and ask others for theirs!

Neymar - Paris Saint-Germain: Group H - UEFA Champions League Photo by Tolga Bozoglu - Pool/Getty Images

Since it first appeared in its most recent format of eight groups and 32 teams, I don’t think the Champions league has ever seen three consecutive weeks of full rounds. Yet here we are: After two rounds of ups, downs, and many surprises, it is already time to set our fantasy UCL teams again!

But we here at NMA have had your back from the beginning, and we’re here for you again this week. Below is your road map to success for matchday 3.

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MATCHDAY 3 FANTASY GUIDE

Quarantine Zone:

In this section we are going to discuss matches with high potential for clean sheets:

Earning points from clean sheets should be a walk in the park; it is always recommended to go for goalkeepers and defenders playing easy matches at home. If your transfer limit and budget allow it, focus on Manchester City (if you can figure out Pep Guardiola), Barcelona, Sevilla (for good budget picks) and Chelsea. Bayern and Atletico have a relatively high clean sheet potential, but it seems like Salzburg and Lokomotiv Moscow have a couple of prolific players that could cause trouble.

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PAINTERS and NET RATTLERS

Olympique de Marseille v Manchester City: Group C - UEFA Champions League Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

It is important to anticipate rotation of squads. Some of us foresaw the Liverpool rotation last week, but many of us are out of the competition because of it. Here, the club names formatted in “BOLD” are the teams with midfielders and attackers you should be looking at for matchday 3.

Salzburg vs Bayern Munchen: Even though Bayern have 6 out of 6 points so far, expect Flick to continue to field his best players with only minor rotations.

Real Madrid vs Inter Milan: Real Madrid with only 1 point from 6 hosts Inter with only 2 from 6; many might expect this match to end in an ugly 1-0 scoreline. But since this is Inter and Real, I’m betting on a thriller and having any starting midfielder should be a positive.

Man City vs Olympiacos: Even though Olympiacos has a strong defense, locking in De Bruyne or Gundogan will surely pay off.

Midtjylland vs Ajax: This match is a must win for Ajax, and it is going to be “Gung ho” mode for the Dutch giants. This is also a great match for picking up a couple of budget players who could produce big returns.

Zenit vs Lazio: Having lost both games, Zenit desperately needs a boost in points. The team has the quality to score goals; Lazio will try to close them down, but Zenit has a ruthless counterattack and should be able to kill the game.

Honorable mentions: Barcelona, Juventus, Sevilla, Dortmund, and Chelsea all have easy games against relatively weak opposition. With those teams, only your gut feeling can tell you if they can break down defenses or not.

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ROTATION RISK

Arsenal FC v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Real-life managers must contend with the rotation dilemma on a daily basis. We fantasy managers must analyze and anticipate their next moves based on fixtures and how comfortable the clubs are within their UCL groups while also considering injuries (and now PCR test results!).

Teams that are expected to rotate heavily and why:

  • Manchester City: Playing home against Olympiacos, Guardiola should be able to rest a few players but will not risk a surprise in the tie and will surely play his main starters: De Bruyne and Sterling. For the rest of the lineup, watch Man City’s domestic match and expect rested players to feature in the UCL.
  • Manchester United: Having won against PSG and Leipzig, Solskjaer will be tempted to rest a few players and again start Van De Beek and Pogba to get the job done, especially after facing Arsenal on the weekend.
  • Barcelona: considering the Dutch tactician may need to focus more on the domestic league, and having won away over Juventus, Koeman may rest a few key players at home against Dynamo Kyiv.

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NOTABLE INJURIES

Shakhtar Donetsk v FC Internazionale: Group B - UEFA Champions League Photo by Claudio Villa - Inter/Inter via Getty Images
  • Chelsea: Arrizabalaga is set to miss the remainder of the group stage with a shoulder injury that could even sideline him until the end of the year.
  • Manchester City: Jesus may be back by matchday 5 along with Benjamin Mendy and Fernandinho; Aguero is ruled out of the group stage.
  • Manchester United: New signing Alex Telles returned a positive PCR test result and is ruled out of matchday 3
  • Juventus: Ronaldo’s PCR test result is yet to come back negative. Keep an eye on the news if you plan to bring him into your fantasy team. Defensive injuries continue with Chiellini, Sandro and De Ligt sidelined.
  • Liverpool: Thiago, Tsimikas, Matip and Keita have all been doubtful for a couple of weeks now with no real updates. Virgil van Dijk has had successful ACL surgery, but his recovery will be 6+ months, so long that we won’t even talk about him again until April.
  • Atletico Madrid: Saul Niguez remains doubtful while Diego Costa is still unfit but may be back for matchday 4.
  • Barcelona: Coutinho suffered a hamstring injury in El Classico and is ruled out for matchday 3.
  • Real Madrid: Carvajal remains injured while Mendy looks set to return and take up the right back position.
  • Lazio: The capital team were hit with the news of eight players testing positive for COVID prior to their match with Club Brugge in matchday 2. Follow the news if you plan to field any of them against Zenit.
  • Inter Milan: Skriniar remains sidelined through injury. Lukaku picked up a muscle tear against Monchengladbach and is ruled out against Real Madrid.
  • Atalanta: Only Marten De Roon is out of Gasperini’s squad for matchday 3
  • Bayern Munich: Alphonso Davies is injured, return date unknown.
  • RB Leipzig: are on the verge of an injury crisis with Klostermann, Mukiele and Laimer sidelined for the Bundesliga table leaders.
  • PSG: Bernat, Veratti, Parades, Icardi and Draxler are injured for the French capital team. Neymar picked up a hamstring injury during matchday 2 and is ruled out of matchday 3.

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MATCHDAY 3 DIFFICULTY INDEX

To help guide your player selections, here are my difficulty tables for Matchday 3:

Difficulty Index Key

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MATCHDAY 3 BUILD UP

My fellow UCL expert Prakhar will publish his view on player picks for matchday 3 tomorrow, while PPQ will post a Rate My Team article on Monday. You may keep coming back here for pre-deadline chat and questions, and of course, I will be posting the UCL Live Chat article on Tuesday — be sure to join in!

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MiQ Fantasy UCL Team

I was able to score 73 points on matchday 1, which is decent. But my team let me down on matchday 2, returning only 64 points. My Tuesday captain Neuer conceded a goal, and my Wednesday captain Ansu Fati didn’t even start. Take a look at my team and let me know if you think that I should my use my “limitless” chip for matchday 3. Any other suggestions are welcome!

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What are you planning for matchday 3? Are you using any chip? Please let us know in the comments below!

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