Following an international break, club football is back and will witness in most European countries a heavily congested schedule until Christmas. As usual, the South American players are at risk in domestic leagues this weekend due to COVID-19 restrictions after the international break, however; for the most part there should be no major worries for the UCL.
MD-2 fixtures are reversed to make up the ties of MD-5. The highlight will take place in the Etihad Stadium in Manchester as the Citizens host Paris Saint-Germain, hoping to secure qualification and first place in one fell swoop. Another awaited tie: Chelsea vs Juventus is also taking place in England but in the capital city of London. Chelsea has not yet secured qualification since they need one point from the next two matches. As the defending Champions, Chelsea will push for two more victories and a big goal difference to win the group, aiming for a weaker opponent in the round of 16.
Success vs Failure
Some clubs secured qualification after MD-4 and will now be aiming to lock down first place. Others are still in the midst of an uphill battle for survival. Here are the details!
Group A: Manchester City can win the group with a victory at home against PSG. The French outfit may qualify even with a loss if Club Brugge loses to RB Leipzig, but a victory for PSG means that first place will be decided in MD-6 and qualification may be doubtful for Man City if Club Brugge defeats RBL. A draw between the group titans and a win for Brugge could ignite a small candle of hope for the Belgian side to surprise Europe in MD-6.
Group B: Liverpool has already won the group and can play comfortably in the next two matchdays. The upcoming sporting schedule is busy and important players may be kept in reserve to gain advantage in the EPL. This could open the door for second place Porto to return from England with the three points and close this years UCL chapter for both Atletico Madrid and AC Milan. The Spaniards and Italians will take the pitch depending on Liverpool to deliver a blow to Porto’s advance, and the winner of their tie will have the better chance to progress heading into MD-6.
Group C: Ajax dominated the group as Dortmund suffered an injury crisis that includes Erling Haaland. They need just one point to qualify when they face last-place Besiktas. A it stands, Dortmund and Sporting share second place, but neither will be able to secure qualification until MD-6 since the away goal rule was dropped.
Group D: Real Madrid climbed the ranks to sit at the top of the table since their surprising defeat to Sheriff in MD-2. This week they will travel to Tiraspol to secure qualification and keep their chances high to win the group in MD-6 (assuming Inter Milan wins against Shakhtar Donetsk). It is worth noting that a win for Sheriff will put the Moldovan dark horse in the best spot to qualify by the end of MD-6 since Real Madrid must play against Inter Milan.
Group E: Bayern Munich secured qualification but needs one more point to win the group. Barcelona will host Benfica with a new manager and a victory here will secure qualification for the Catalan club.
Group F: All clubs within the group have a chance to qualify on paper. Atalanta plays against Young Boys in hopes of climbing the ranks since points are bound to drop when top two clubs Villarreal and Manchester United face each other in Spain.
Group G: Similarly to group F, only 4 points separate first and last place. Top clubs Salzburg and Lille must play against each other in this round, which could create an opening for Wolfsburg and Sevilla to situate themselves in a better position before MD-6.
Group H: Juventus secured qualification in MD-4 and they will not be able to win the group unless they defeat Chelsea since the latter may steal first place in MD-6 if they draw with or defeat Juventus. Zenit has a less than slim chance to qualify; they need two wins for themselves and two losses for Chelsea.
MD-4 FANTASY GUIDE
- Besiktas vs Ajax
- Malmo vs Zenit
- Young Boys vs Atalanta
- Inter Milan vs Shakhtar Donetsk
- Sheriff vs Real Madrid
I strongly suggest against fielding Bayern’s defenders unless you are expecting assists/goals from them. The Bavarians did not keep a clean sheet in the last 5 matches, conceding 12 goals in total. Ajax have been doing exceptionally well this season and they are set to continue winning ways when they play against Besiktas. The clean sheet prospects are low in MD-5 but Zenit proved reliable against weaker opponents. Another strong clean sheet contender with strong attacking wing backs is Atalanta. Both Inter Milan and Real Madrid are expected to keep clean sheets but the odds are less than the other matches I mentioned.
Painters and Net Rattlers
- Group A: Both matches in this group can go either way. Manchester City, PSG and Club Brugge are fighting for qualification so they cannot afford to close up shop. RBL on the other hand is playing for third place now to qualify for the Europa League’s round of 32. All clubs are expected to score and their playing style may be more open than ever with the lack of the away goal rule.
- Group B: Having alrady won their group, Liverpool players should be avoided at this stage, however; a player such as Origi or Minamino could prove to be a strong differential in MD-5. Atletico and Milan need the points but it is hard to predict if their match will result in a 5 goals thriller or an efficient 1-0 win.
- Group C: Both Dortmund and Sporting will fire all cylinders to win when they play each other to gain an advantage for qualification in MD-6. A safer approach may be taken by Dortmund considering they have an easier fixture against Besiktas in the last round. Ajax may rest a few key players against last place Besiktas so fantasy managers need to tread carefully.
- Group D: Inter Milan and Real Madrid switch opponents in MD-5 and should continue winning with a high score.
- Group E: Bayern may rest a couple of key players in anticipation of the busy schedule but top goalscorer Lewandowski is aiming to set records and should be a safe bet to play. Barcelona will go all out under new management and their domestic-league line-up tonight should be a preview of their UCL clash against Benfica.
- Group F: Atalanta’s only choice is to win against Young Boys so Duvan Zapata is one of the best picks for this matchday. Considering Atalanta’s threat, Manchester United and Villarreal will go all out to gain advantage before the deciding MD-6. Manchester United may take a similar approach to Dortmund considering they play against Young Boys in the last round. That would not be the wisest approach considering the loss in MD-1!
- Group G: Salzburg failed to play cohesively in MD-4 causing upsets to fantasy managers who were counting on fantasy returns from their attackers. Lille is an organized team and picking more than one Salzburg player may prove a mistake this round. We are yet to see any of Sevilla’s attacking prowess from the last couple of seasons but it could be a high-risk/high-reward situation for some managers.
- Group H: Chelsea vs Juventus has a scoreline of 0-0 written all over it with Allegri’s new found defensive strength, while smart bets are on Zenit to defeat Malmo with a high scoreline.
Notable Injuries / Returns from Injury and Suspensions
Keep an on the pre-deadline and live chat article this Tuesday for most up-to-date information as team news and injury reports continue to flow in from the international break and the weekend’s action in Europe’s domestic leagues..
To help guide your player selections, here are my difficulty tables:
Rules, Tricks, and Tips
For the inside scoop on how to beat your mini-league rivals, please read Dhivakhar’s article on the secrets to success in fantasy UCL.
NMA’s authors have put together an article stream covering each group in the tournament. Be sure to check it out for the lowdown on the players who should be on your fantasy watch-lists.
NMA UCL Fantasy Mini-League
If you played our UCL mini-league last season, or if you played our Euros mini-league over the summer, you should automatically be entered into NMA’s 2021-22 mini-league as soon as you create a team. Head to gaming.uefa.com and get to work!
If you are new to us, then once you create a team you can join our mini-league manually with the following info. Come join us, we’d love to have you!
- Code: 71MQALVG07
MATCHDAY 4 BUILD UP
Dhivakhar will be publishing the highly-anticipated MD-5 player picks article on Sunday. On Monday, Sravan will be exploring his options for MD-5 and requesting our readers to rate his team. And you may keep coming back to this page 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!
Have anything to add? Still have questions? Please post in the comments below!