After a congested week of football where every team played either three rounds of domestic league football or 2 game-weeks plus a cup match, our focus returns to the Champions League for its fourth matchday. If you missed it, here is NMA’s MD-4 Fantasy Preview, which more or less guides our fantasy managers towards the best teams for fantasy picks, and also points out the teams to avoid.
Also, the injury list seems to only grow longer at this time of the year, so keeping an eye on team news is advised! Either way, our Live Chat article will update the injury list as accurately as possible ahead of the first match kick-off.
Edouard Mendy (€6.1m, Malmo vs Chelsea)
There are many reports that Kepa Arrizabalaga will get the nod over Mendy to start the match against Malmo. However, those reports also suggest many other major rotations that I do not believe Thomas Tuchel would consider. A victory is vital for qualification, and also to allow Tuchel the freedom to rest and rotate in the next couple of rounds without pressure.
Antonio Adan (€4.5m, Besiktas vs Sporting CP)
Sporting CP conceded one goal during MD3 against Besiktas, but Adan is still at the top of the list of budget GKs with solid chances at clean sheets this week. The defenders at Sporting CP have been working well together in recent matches.
Always remember to pick two goalkeepers who play on different days. Another combination that could work well is Geronimo Rulli (4.5m, Villarreal vs Young Boys) along with Thibaut Courtois (€6.1m, Real Madrid vs Shakhtar Donetsk), especially if you like GKs who are playing at home. I’m a little worried about Villareal’s clean sheet chances though: First-choice right-back Juan Foyth is sidelined with injury, and his back-up Serge Aurier is not registered for UCL.
Dayot Upamecano (€5.6m, Bayern Munich vs Benfica)
A Bayern Munich defender is always a great pick. If they can shake off the troubles of last week (seven goals conceded!), then Bayern should comfortably keep a clean sheet against Benfica. The defender also recorded an assist during Bayern’s last domestic league match, in which he came off the bench (meaning he’ll be well-rested for this one).
Sebastian Coates (€5.0m, Besiktas vs Sporting CP)
Sporting CP’s central defender followed his brace against Besiktas in MD-3 with two goals in the two matches in the domestic league. Both goals resulted in 1-0 victories. He will be looking to extend his goal scoring record to a fourth consecutive match in MD-4.
Diego Carlos (€4.7m, Sevilla vs Lille)
Sevilla are surely not the scoring machine they were last season, but when it comes to defensive capabilities, they have been keeping many clean sheets with Kounde and Carlos in the middle flanked by Acuna and Navas. The central midfielder is the highest-scoring defender in his club, and should be able to continue with consistent returns. He also scored a goal in Sevilla’s most recent domestic league 2-0 win.
Daley Blind (€5.2 m, Dortmund vs Ajax)
MD-3’s Man of the Match cannot be overlooked any longer. Blind kept a clean sheet, scored a goal from outside the box, created another goal, and recovered 9 balls. The continued absence of Erling Haaland will be a major factor in this match. This allows for Ajax wing backs to move more freely knowing Haaland will not suddenly appear in an empty area behind their backs.
Stefan De Vrij (€5.2 m, Sheriff vs Inter Milan)
Stefan De Vrij has performed very well this season scoring four points against Real Madrid, seven against Shakhtar and 11 in the last match against Sheriff. Those points include only one clean sheet which indicates that De Vrij will either compensate with ball recoveries, assists, or even goals.
Jorginho (€6.1m, Malmo vs Chelsea)
Europe’s player of the year continues to showcase his vast central midfielder abilities, controlling play, defending, and creating attacks. His teammate Kovacic is sidelined for MD-4, which means any minor rotation risk is out of the window. He is one of the top five fantasy UCL points returnees as of now. The relatively easy fixture against Malmo is a good chance for him to accumulate even more points.
Noah Okafor (€5.0m, Wolfsburg vs Salzburg)
With teammate Sesko sidelined through injury, Okafor is in contention to start against Wolfsburg. He is one of the best budget-friendly midfielders for MD-4, and registered a brace in MD-3 against the same opponent. Salzburg can secure qualification by winning this match, so Okafor may play a major part in scoring or assisting goals.
Leroy Sane (€9.1m, Bayern Munich vs Benfica)
Sane is on fire at the moment. He is finally manifesting the potential that the Bavarian management saw in him. He currently has the highest points returns in fantasy UCL, and as my fellow author Dhivakhar noted last week, the fixture against Benfica is where he can shine the brightest. Benfica did well last time to hold Bayern scoreless for 70 minutes, but a player like Sane is able to break low blocks with a mere dribble or two.
Remo Freuler (€6.3m, Atalanta vs Manchester United)
With Martin De Roon deployed in defense due to a major injury crisis at Atalanta, Gasperini will rely on Freuler to break up plays and recover the ball as Atalanta’s first line of defense. So far, he has recovered a total of 19 balls. The Swiss international is also familiar with the goal as he scored in many occasions throughout his career with Atalanta.
Christopher Nkunku (€7.9m, RB Leipzig vs PSG)
This may not be a popular pick for MD-4 considering the player returned only two points from the reverse fixture. However, Nkunku has been consistent with strong performances throughout the season, and has scored four goals in UCL so far. It is Leipzig’s last chance to keep their hopes of qualification alive and if anyone will be able to save them then it is Nkunku.
The players named above are alternatives to Mo Salah and Riyad Mahrez. Both of those men have high potential to return big points, but they carry certain risks for MD-4. Salah has an unfavorable matchup against Atletico Madrid, and Mahrez, like every other Citizen, is subject to Pep roulette.
Karim Adeyemi (€7.3m, Wolfsburg vs Salzburg)
Partnered with Okafor at the front line of the ruthless Salzburg attack. Adeyemi returned a total of 30 fantasy points from the first three rounds of play. As stated earlier, Salzburg will stop at nothing in MD-4 to win the three points and secure a well-deserved Round of 16 qualification. The player is currently owned by only 7% of fantasy managers, making him one of the best MD-4 differentials (especially considering that owners of Haaland and Lukaku may hold on to them for expected returns in MD-5).
Karim Benzema (€10.1m, Real Madrid vs Shakhtar Donetsk)
Benzema was given a well deserved rest during Real Madrid’s trip to play Elche on Saturday, so he should be ready to return to the starting XI with his usual flair. But if you find yourself short on funds then Vinicius Junior may be a good alternative, priced at just €8.1m and owned by only 8%.
Robert Lewandowski (€11.7m, Bayern Munich vs Benfica)
The Polish striker’s price only goes up and could climb above €12m by the end of the Group Stage. Bayern are going to secure qualification in MD-4 and he will most probably have a hand (or foot!) in making that happen.
My current lineup is riddled with injuries, therefore I will be putting my money where my mouth is: I’m going to activate my Wildcard and purchase the exact lineup I’ve just laid out for you above. That will leave me with €0.2 in the bank, so I may consider switching Benzema with V. Junior to free up funds to bring in Salah. But honestly it’s more likely that I’ll save that move until MD-5. Don’t hesitate to let me know which route you would take in the Comments though!
I hope that I brought some fresh ideas to your attention to help with your own teams, and I will be looking forward to hearing your thoughts and alternatives to the picks I’ve named.
Who else is on your radar for MD-4? Are you playing a chip this week? What would be your front three if you were to play the Limitless? How many points will Salah earn against Atletico Madrid? Will you risk going without Salah in MD-3? Have questions of your own? Please share in the comments below.