The end of MD-3 marks the midway point of this year’s UCL group stage. With the remaining three match-days of the group stage being reverse fixtures in the opposite order, it’s a good idea to reflect on what went down previously to guide your squad’s transfer choices.
A total of 59 goals were scored across the 16 games, putting MD-3 in the top-3 highest-scoring UCL match-days ever. Man City clearly recovered from the loss against PSG, giving us a 5-star performance against Club Brugge. Sporting’s towering center-back Sebastián Coates scored two identical goals in quick succession against a depleted Besiktas side.
We then had two 3-2 scorelines from unlikely sources: Paris vs Leipzig was a finely balanced match with a Messi Panenka ultimately being the decider. Mbappe’s penalty miss in the closing minutes made the Parisians less comfortable than they should’ve been. Atletico vs Liverpool seemed like a battle of the defenses on paper, but that turned out to be anything but. We saw end-to-end action with Griezmann pulling the Atleti back into the game, but then his high boot on Firmino put them at a numerical disadvantage. Salah continued his scorching run, adding two goals to his name.
Only two players in Champions League history have scored 6+ goals in their first three #UCL games:— William Hill (@WilliamHill) October 19, 2021
▪️ Erling Haaland
▪️ Sébastien Haller
Ajax on the other hand disposed of Dortmund with relative ease in what most of us looked forward to as a clash of the two most attacking sides of the group. Real Madrid’s Vinicius gave the Shakhtar defense nightmares with his cuts and flicks, leading Madrid to a 5-0 victory.
Barcelona got the ball rolling on Wednesday in a match that already seems to be a battle for third in the group. Defensive stalwarts Jordi Alba and Pique combined for the only goal of the game, the former putting in a teasing cross that the latter emphatically volleyed in. That goal pushes Pique top in the list of top-scoring defenders in the UCL, pipping his countryman, Sergio Ramos.
Barcelona's first LaLiga goal without Lionel Messi was scored by Gerard Piqué.— Sam Leveridge (@samleveridge) October 20, 2021
Barcelona's first Champions League goal without Lionel Messi was scored by Gerard Piqué.
I fully expect to see Piqué start up-front against a lower league team in the first round of the Copa del Rey. pic.twitter.com/oi9X5QfGwO
In the other Group E match, Benfica put up a valiant display to keep the game goalless until Sané’s wonderful free-kick. Benfica made substitutions post this to get them back in the game, but the move backfired as the Bavarians took advantage of the opponents’ gameplan modifications, netting three in a span of four minutes. Bayern has now scored in 25 consecutive UCL matches and continues a streak of 20 away games unbeaten.
Atalanta dominated proceedings in the first half against Man United, but the latter showed spirit to mount a comeback, pulling two back in the second half. The man for big occasions, Cristiano Ronaldo, headed in to help Man United claim all three points.
Fellow English side Chelsea was up against minnow Malmo who entered with a GD of -7. In a tight group including Juventus, goal difference could well prove decisive. Defenders Thiago Silva and Christensen linked up to open the scoring within ten minutes. Momentum was on their side, but Chelsea supporters would definitely be worried to see Romelu Lukaku goidown under a strong tackle, followed by Timo Werner walking off clutching his hamstring. There was joy in the end though, with penalty ace Jorginho expertly converting twice.
MD-3 Results: Scorelines, Goals, Assists, and MotM
Here’s a concise summary of the events that may help you in the following rounds, because players in form tend to deliver consistently. Additionally, UCL Fantasy’s new scoring metric this season awards a 3-point bonus to each game’s Man of the Match (MotM).
Club Brugge 1-5 Man. City
- MotM: João Cancelo
- Goals: Vanaken | João Cancelo, Mahrez (2) (P), Walker, Palmer
- Assists: Ruud Vormer | Fernandinho, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden
Beşiktaş 1-4 Sporting CP
- MotM: Sebastián Coates
- Goals: Larin | Coates, Sarabia, Paulinho
- Assists: Pjanic | Goncalo Inacio, Pedro Goncalves, Paulinho
Paris 3-2 Leipzig
- MotM: Kylian Mbappé
- Goals: Mbappé, Messi (2) (P) | André Silva, Mukiele
- Assists: Angelino (2)
Atlético De Madrid 2-3 Liverpool
- MotM: Alisson Becker
- Goals: Griezmann | Salah (P), Keïta
- Assists: Joao Felix, Koke
2+1 - Antoine Griezmann is the first player in UEFA Champions League history to score twice and be sent off. Comedown.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 19, 2021
Porto 1-0 AC Milan
- MotM: Mehdi Taremi
- Goals: Luis Díaz
- Assists: Mehdi Taremi
Ajax 4-0 Dortmund
- MotM: Daley Blind
- Goals: Reus (OG), Blind, Antony, Haller
- Assists: Tadic, Haller, Blind
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-5 Real Madrid
- MotM: Karim Benzema
- Goal: Kryvtsov (OG), Vinícius Júnior (2), Rodrygo, Benzema
- Assist: Asensio, Vasquez, Modric, Vinicius Junior
Inter 3-1 Sheriff
- MotM: Marcelo Brozović
- Goals: Džeko, Vidal, De Vrij | S. Thill
- Assists: Dumfries, Dzeko, Vidal
Barcelona 1-0 Dynamo Kyiv
- MotM: Jordi Alba
- Goal: Piqué
- Assist: Jordi Alba
Salzburg 3-1 Wolfsburg
- MotM: Noah Okafor
- Goals: Adeyemi, Okafor (2) | L. Nmecha
- Assists: Bernado, Kristensen, Seiwald | Maximilian Arnold
Benfica 0-4 Bayern
- MotM: Kingsley Coman
- Goals: Sané (2), Everton (OG), Lewandowski
- Assists: Stanisic, Gnabry, Sané
The stats don't lie— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) October 24, 2021
#BallonDor #MiaSanMia pic.twitter.com/wu2xIKjeaq
Man. United 3-2 Atalanta
- MotM: Bruno Fernandes
- Goals: Rashford, Maguire, Ronaldo | Pašalić, Demiral
- Assists: Luke Shaw, Bruno Fernandes (2) | Zappacosta, Koopmeiners
Losc 0-0 Sevilla
- MotM: Lucas Ocampos
Young Boys 1-4 Villarreal
- MotM: Gerónimo Rulli
- Goals: Elia | Pino, Gerard Moreno, Moreno, Chukwueze
- Assists: Rieder | Groeneveld, Pedraza, Parejo, Moreno
Chelsea 4-0 Malmö
- MotM: Jorginho
- Goals: Christensen, Jorginho (2) (P), Havertz
- Assists: Hudson-Odoi, Thiago Silva
Zenit 0-1 Juventus
- MotM: Leonardo Bonucci
- Goals: Kulusevski
- Assist: De Sciglio
Team of the Week: (4-5-1)
All the fantasy players scoring the highest points in one place? Yes, please!
Ivo Grbić (LOSC) – 8 points (6 shots saved, CS)
Sebastián Coates (Sporting CP) – 18 points (2 goals scored, 4 balls recovered, MOTM)
Gerard Piqué (Barcelona) – 15 points (1 goal scored, CS, 10 balls recovered)
Daley Blind (Ajax) – 22 points (1 goal scored, 1 assist, CS, 9 balls recovered, MOTM)
Jordi Alba (Barcelona) – 14 points (1 assist, CS, 8 balls recovered)
Leroy Sané (Bayern) – 18 points (2 goals scored, 1 assist)
Riyad Mahrez (Man. City) – 14 points (2 goals scored, 1 penalty earned)
Jorginho (Chelsea) – 18 points (2 goals scored, 7 balls recovered, MOTM)
Noah Okafor (Salzburg) – 15 points (2 goals scored, MOTM)
Mo Salah (Liverpool) – 13 points (2 goals scored)
Vinícius Júnior (Real Madrid) – 13 points (2 goals scored, 1 assist)
TOTAL: 168 Points (!), 190 with Blind as captain!
BTW, Note that there are four defenders and five midfielders in this perfect roster, leaving only one forward... food for thought. Also, the perfect lineup scored 16 goals while providing four assists.
How I Fared
Chelsea’s fixture against Malmo seemed the most lucrative field for me to plow, so I planned to have at least two from the team. Lukaku stayed, and since Rudiger was a doubt, I replaced him with the more economical and attacking defender in Cesar Azpilicueta.
The other choice I had to make was to either transfer out Goretzka, because he was announced to be out of his squad, or drop Antony, because he just returned from Brazil duty and might not start.
My initial plan was to buy Adeyemi, who was scoring for fun, to replace Antony. But on knowing that Adeyemi was a doubt as well, I didn’t want to spend one of my two free transfers on a non-confirmed starter. Spoiler alert: He did start and did go on to score for fun. With the funds I had left and the deadline looming, Nkunku to replace Goretzka was an instinctive choice I made based on form. This was what my team ended up looking like:
I was prepared to be disappointed by my super expensive midfielder Salah in what I thought would be a nil-nil match. I ended up being disappointed because it didn’t cross my mind to captain him.
Fortunately, Antony did start and got more points than the alternative Adeyemi (He was an absolute joy to watch, too). My differential for the first day seemed to be Nkunku, so he got the armband as well. Though he was lively, he didn’t manage to get any returns. No problem, I still had Lukaku for the next day to get me a truckload of points. :)
My main captain for the MD, in the rout of Malmo, left the pitch after just 23 minutes. Thankfully he earned a pen before leaving; 2 points from the captain would’ve been horrendous. Lewandowski seemed like another expensive player with no returns, but thankfully he got a goal to continue his streak. An overall score of 62 points without using another chip is decent, so I end the match-day happy with the insights I got to improve my squad for the reverse fixture next time.
Here’s a look at the leader-board so far:
I’m genuinely proud to see multiple 100+ scorers in our NMA mini-league! I see many of them having one or more MOTMs in their squads, giving them a significant boost. Keep up the great work!
All stats sourced from UEFA
Who did you have in your team?
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What were your plusses and minusses in UCL MD-3? Whom do you want to trade out, and whom are you watching? Please share in the comments below!