Matchday 5 is promising more clubs to secure qualification and for some to win their respective groups. Last week, only Bayern Munich was able to win a group, going seven points clear from current group-A runners-up Atletico Madrid thanks to an outlandish Neuer performance, racking up 10 saves against Salzburg in Bayern’s 3-1 victory. Atletico Madrid’s Captain Koke was disallowed a goal towards the end of his match, which meant that Lokomotiv Moscow held the Spanish whites and reds to a goalless draw.
Matchday 5 will once again feature Liverpool when they host high-flying Ajax in a group-D qualification showdown. Resurrected Atletico Madrid will host Bayern Munich, and Inter Milan will travel to Borussia M in what promises to be an entertaining tie. Manchester City will look to win group-C at Porto, and we all hope that Guardiola will again not travel the players he intends to rest.
Sevilla welcome Chelsea in a group-E winner-deciding match. Dortmund hosts Lazio in a top of group-F clash. Finally, the return leg between Manchester United and PSG will be held in Old Trafford, while the Turkish champions may take one more step towards achieving the dark horse status when they host RB Leipzig.
MATCHDAY 5 FANTASY GUIDE
Here is a table of clubs potential/target before Matchday 5:
In the first column where Bayern is highlighted in green, all the other teams are looking to win their respective group to ensure a relatively easier competition in the round of 16. These teams have higher rotation risk than teams still playing for qualification. Longer term, you could have 3 to 4 players from such a team in the round of 16, but we will have unlimited transfers at that time to do that later.
The second column is where our focus should be in the next couple of matchdays. If we figure that the qualified teams in the first column will rotate 4 or 5 players, then the teams playing for qualification in the second column will probably rotate only 1 or 2. Keep in mind that most clubs are going through 10 matches in 30 days period.
Matchday 5 reverses matchday 1 fixtures. Clean sheets become more difficult as the group stage nears its end because teams are pushing to achieve their targets. Dortmund, PSG and Atletico Madrid are probably looking forward to matchday 5 fixtures the most so they can right the results of matchday 1. Here are the fixtures that have a high potential for a clean sheet; my colleague Prakhar will be narrowing down the candidates for best goalkeepers and defenders this Sunday:
- Shakhtar Donetsk vs Real Madrid: It seems that Shakhtar has been figured out with two huge losses adding up to 10-0 against Borussia M.
- Atalanta vs Midtjylland: First-team goalkeeper Gollini is back from injury and is comfortable against Midtjylland with three high-performing centerbacks and two goal-threatening wingbacks.
- Istanbul Basaksehir vs RB Leipzig: Nagelsmann conceded a huge defeat against Manchester United in matchday 2 but has been defending well since. Goalkeeper Gulacsi will look to keep a clean sheet in this tie before the last showdown against Manchester United in matchday 6.
- Ferencvaros vs Barcelona: The Catalan club is boosted by close returns of Umtiti and Araujo to compensate for Pique’s injury absence.
Painters and Net Rattlers
- Group A: Bayern’s Flick does not slow down and will play his football as usual. It is only a matter of who is going to be rested in the domestic league that you can expect to start in UCL. Simeone should be going full force to win and avoid any last minute surprises in matchday 6. Similarly, both Salzburg and Lokomotiv Moscow will be trying to win, hoping for a negative Atletico Madrid result.
- Group B: Picking and starting midfielder or forward in this group should be a good bet except for Shakhtar Donetsk.
- Group C: Keep an eye on Manchester City squad traveling to Portugal, but if possible avoid this match all together. Olympiacos may be a great budget pick for this round.
- Group D: Goals galore are expected by Gasperini’s Atalanta hosting Midtjylland. Liverpool vs Ajax could be a repeat of Liverpool’s dreary matchday 1 one-goal victory with both teams cautious not to lose points.
- Group E: Sevilla and Chelsea are heavy rotation risks in my opinion, but Rennes vs Krasnodar could be a thriller.
- Group F: Dortmund and Haaland are going through a fantastic phase; likewise Lazio and Immobile. It is hard to predict which will prevail.
- Group G: Juventus and Barcelona players present more rotation risk. Strong players who are usually benched could bring good point returns.
- Group H: This is a hit and miss group. The best bet is to go for RB Leipzig players, but PSG are in “come back” mode, and Tuchel has the quality to see it through. Bruno Fernandes is a sensation for Manchester United in all competitions.
Notable Injuries / Returns from Injury
- Atletico Madrid: Diego Costa is still doubtful. Torreira and Suarez are yet to test negative for COVID-19, but that could happen this weekend. Herrera’s muscle injury is being monitored; he may be doubtful against Bayern Munich.
- Bayern Munich: Sule’s absence remains a mystery to the media, but rumors say he’s overweight. Pavard picked an injury on Wednesday and will be assessed. Kimmich and Davies remain long term absentees. Roca is suspended in matchday 5 after being sent off against Salzburg.
- Monchengladbach: Plea returned from COVID-19 positive test. Ramy Bensebaini will look to do the same by matchday 5, but Hoffman remains doubtful.
- Inter Milan: With a clean bill of health of the main players, only Vidal will not take part in matchday 5 against Burossia M after he was sent off against Real Madrid.
- Real Madrid: Benzema should be ready for the domestic league match this weekend while Valverdi is doubtful. Captain Sergio Ramos and Ordiozola will miss the match against Shakhtar.
- Manchester City: Guardiola’s injury list is down to center back Ake who could return sooner rather than later.
- Ajax: M Kudus is the only injured player and will miss the rest of the group stage.
- Liverpool: The injury list for the EPL Champions includes Gomez, and Van Dijk probably until the end of the season. Henderson, Shaqiri, Keita, Thiago and Oxalde-Chamberlin are all doubtful at the moment.
- Chelsea: Pulisic is back in training, his recovery to be monitored.
- Sevilla: Navas returns from matchday 4 suspension while Bono and Suso should make their returns in matchday 5.
- Lazio: Milinkovic Savic is still positive for COVID-19; Staroshka returned a negative result on 19 November, but he is ensnared in Lazio’s ongoing testing procedure controversy.
- Barcelona: Umtiti, Busquets and Araujo are nearing recovery but remain doubtful. Ansu Fati is out until February. Pique is out for at leastfour months, Sergi Roberto until January 2021.
- Juventus: Bonucci and Cheillini are still out, their recovery to be updated by matchday; Buffon is suffering from a thigh injury and should not get any minutes in front of Szczesny.
- Manchester United: Wan Bissaka picked up an ankle injury on Tuesday; its extent will be reported by matchday. Shaw and Jones are out until mid December at best; Pogba remains doubtful.
- PSG: Other than Bernat, who is set to miss out the match against Manchester United, Icardi, Gueye, Kehrer, Draxler remain doubtful.
- RB Leipzig: Mukeile and Upamenaco returned from injury in midweek; Halstenberg, Klostermann and Laimer are doubtful.
MATCHDAY 4 DIFFICULTY INDEX
To help guide your player selections, here are my difficulty tables for matchday 5:
MATCHDAY 5 BUILD UP
My fellow UCL expert Prakhar will publish his view on player picks for matchday 5 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 featuring Manchester United and PSG blogs — be sure to join in!