After just two weeks away, the Champions League is back in action. The world took a break from club football, and players traveled around the globe to play for their countries where a few surprises took place, most notably Spain’s 6-0 shellacking of Germany.
The fixtures played on UCL match-day 3 will be inverted home and away. Matchday 3 delivered on entertainment, including a couple of thriller matches (Atalanta vs Liverpool and Shakhtar Dontesk vs Burossia M) that ended in unexpectedly heavy defeats to the home sides. The group of death saw Manchester United lose at Turkish debutantes Istanbul Basaksehir, and RB Leipzig triumphed over PSG. A few teams will look forward to this round anticipating to book their spots in the Round of 16 while other teams will learn that the best they can do is Europa League round of 32.
MATCHDAY 4 FANTASY GUIDE
- Man United vs Istanbul Basaksehir
- Dortmund vs Club Brugge
- Juventus vs Ferencvaros
- Borussia M. vs Shakhtar Donetsk
- Ajax vs Midtjylland
There are real doubts that any of the 16 fixtures will produce a clean sheet in this round. All teams are expected to go all out to confirm qualification or keeping hopes alive. The listed matches above have the highest potential for the dominant team to avoid conceding. Juventus and Dortmund both now have a full set of defenders to choose from: De ligt and Chilleini return for the Old Lady, and Emre Can is finally released from COVID-19 quarantine. Man Utd and Ajax will approach their matches with more caution after tasting the opposition ruthlessness in matchday 3. Monchengladbach showcased defensive strength away from home to go top of group B over Shakhtar Donetsk, Real Madrid and Inter Milan. This may be the last chance to win three more points before playing against the Spanish and Italian giants.
Painters and Net Rattlers
- Group A: Bayern’s Flick will have no option other than fielding his best XI at home against Salzburg; a fourth win in a row would put him one point away from winning the group regardless of other results. The remaining teams are all contenders to qualify alongside the Bavarians, but Atletico Madrid has enough quality to defeat their Russian visitors Lokomotiv Moscow.
- Group B: A highly unpredictable group where the difference between first and last is only three points. Borussia Monchengladbach seems to has the upper hand this week while Inter Milan vs Real Madrid promises to be another thriller.
- Group C: Manchester City should secure qualification this round at Olympiacos even though the Greeks are a difficult outfit at home. Marseille will host Porto in their last chance to change the group dynamics, and they could support Man City bid to win the group.
- Group D: Just like Real Madrid, Liverpool are facing a defensive line injury crisis. This comes at the worst time. Europe witnessed what an injury crisis can do to a team like Atalanta in matchday 3; it’ll be interesting to see how Klopp approaches the match. With a win, Liverpool will need one more point from the remaining two matches to win the group, but a loss will setup a difficult three way fight with Atalanta and Ajax. Covid-19 struck Ajax in matchday 3 who still collected the three points in an ugly encounter with Midtjylland. The Dutch outfit should be able to comfortably gain on either Liverpool or Atalanta again this week.
- Group E: Chelsea and Sevilla are both away, and both share the top of the group at seven points. They’ll aim to book their spots in the round of 16 before going head to head in matchday 5 to settle the group winner.
- Group F: Dortmund’s Favre is going to finish at home what he started in Belgium by winning three more points from Club Brugge to secure a spot in the round of 16. Lazio should be able to maintain second place by defeating or holding Zenit at home.
- Group G: It is time for Barcelona and Juventus to secure their spots in the round of 16 before any of the players can be rested for domestic leagues.
- Group H: The group of death is delivering on the entertainment and surprises. Victories for RB Leipzig and Manchester United over PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir send both teams to the top of the group on six points.
It is highly unlikely for any team to risk rotating and resting any first-team players this round unless medically indicated. Therefore, this is a good week for fantasy players to pick starters, but difficult for us to anticipate big points.
Notable Injuries / Returns from Injury
- Atletico Madrid: Herrera and Savic developed muscle injuries and are expected to miss the match against Lokomotiv Moscow. Luis Suarez and Torreira tested positive for Covid-19 and will test again before the match to decide their participation. Diego Costa is doubtful, but Simeone may not have any other option at hand.
- Bayern Munich: Sule and Goretzka should back in the weekend Bundesliga match while Tolisso is out for muscle injury. Kimmich and Davies remain injured as well.
- Monchengladbach: The hattrick hero Plea has tested positive for Covid-19 and will test again before the match. Hofmann is injured (Hamstring) until December.
- Inter Milan: Lukaku is back in action for the Italians while Brozovic and Kolarov tested positive for Covid-19.
- Real Madrid: Varane, Ramos, Vaquez, and Mendy are all injured for the defensive line. Benzema, Valverde and Casemiro are set to miss out as well for injury and positive test reasons as well.
- Manchester City: Sterling reportedly has a thigh injury, but it’s extent is not clear (He’s is on the bench at Tottenham this weekend). Ake seems like the only player who is confirmed to miss the match, while Aguero, Fernandinho and Mendy are doubtful.
- Atalanta: Zapata and Malinovskyi returned positive Covid-19 tests. Gosens and De Room are set to return in Serie-A, while Hatebour remains doubtful.
- Liverpool: Salah tested positive for Covid-19 so will miss EPL and UCL matches. Gomez, Fabinho, Van Dijk are out as well. Robertson, Tsikimas, Chamberlain and Henderson are doubtful.
- Chelsea: Chilwell and Havertz are both doubtful for back injury and Covid-19 respectively while Pulisic remains injured.
- Sevilla: Defender Carlos is expected to miss the return leg against Krasnodar with a positive Covid-19 test. Right-back Navas is suspended after he was sent off in the first leg.
- Dortmund: Hummels and Emre Can are set to return this weekend while Guerreiro and Brandt are set to miss out due to muscle injuries.
- Lazio: Immobile, Strakosha and Mil-Savic are still testing positive for Covid-19 but hope to return a negative result soon.
- Barcelona: Ansu Fati is out until February; Busquets is reportedly out for a muscle injury. Coutinho is set to return in the weekend La Liga match against Atletico Madrid.
- Juventus: All players except Ramsey are expected to be at the ready for Pirlo by midweek.
- Manchester United: Shaw and Jones are out until December while Lindelof, Maguire and Rashford are doubtful.
- PSG: Mbappe and Neymar both returned from injury to feature in a defeat to Monaco yesterday. Icardi, Bernat, Verratti and Draxler remain injured.
- RB Leipzig: Many first team players are doubtful for minor injuries such as Orban, Mukiele, Halstenberg, and Upamecano. Klostermann and Laimer are confirmed to miss out.
MATCHDAY 4 DIFFICULTY INDEX
To help guide your player selections, here are my difficulty tables for matchday 4:
MATCHDAY 4 BUILD UP
My fellow UCL expert Prakhar will publish his view on player picks for matchday 4 tomorrow, and PPQ will post a Rate My Team article on Monday, and 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!