The 2021 UCL calendar ends in the upcoming week. A total of 11 teams have secured qualification, but so far only four group winners have been decided. Below we’ll analyze the jockeying for position occurring in each group.
Eyes will be focused most intently on group G, where only three points separate first place Lille and last place Wolfsburg heading into their clash in Germany this Wednesday. In group F, Manchester United secured qualification but risks losing first place to Villarreal when the Spaniards visit Bergamo, Italy to play against Atalanta. And the Santiago Bernabeu will be the venue when Inter Milan faces Real Madrid for group D’s top spot.
Barcelona are set for a dramatic exit or a heroic qualification under new management. Either result is poetic since their decline started a couple of years ago in Munich, the very place they are preparing to play Bayern on Wednesday. In the same group, Benfica host Dynamo Kyiv but will be cheering on the Germans from many miles away.
In group B, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Porto will fight their last battles to join Liverpool in the round of 16. Every goal in this group in MD-6 will make a difference in determining which team qualifies.
Lastly, Juventus hosts Malmo in what seems to be a formality considering Chelsea’s superior goal difference; the London side is unlikely to squander that when they travel to Russia to play Zenit.
This section of the article focuses on each team’s ranking within the group and provides insight to the risk of rotation. High Risk indicates that the position of the team cannot be changed regardless of MD-6 results. Medium Risk indicates that even if the team’s position can be affected by MD-6 results, qualification is already secured and therefore the manager could rest players for use in the domestic league. Low Risk means that only injuries, fatigue and form would stop the manager from fielding his best players.
Group A: RB Leipzig vs Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain vs Club Brugge
- Manchester City - 12 points and PSG - 8 points (High Risk): It will not be a surprise if both clubs’ starting 11s consist largely of unfamiliar youth players. A few fringe players from the senior squad may join them to get minutes.
- RB Leipzig and Club Brugge - 4 points (Low Risk): Both clubs are playing for Europa League qualification and will be expected to field their best teams.
Group B: AC Milan vs Liverpool and Porto vs Atletico Madrid
- Liverpool - 15 points (High Risk): Jurgen Klopp had the luxury of rotating in MD-5, having already secured first place in group B. Once again, young names are expected to replace the first team players when they travel to Milan.
- Porto - 5 points, Atletico Madrid and AC Milan - 4 points (Low Risk): All teams have a good chance to qualify so they will field their best 11s.
Group C: Ajax vs Sporting CP and Dortmund vs Besiktas
- Ajax - 15 points, Sporting CP - 9 points, Dortmund - 6 points, Besiktas - 0 points (High Risk): There is no possibility of changing positions in this group. If Dortmund beats Besiktas and Sporting loses to Ajax, then both Sporting and Dortmund will end up with 9 points but since the goal difference in their head to head matches is in favor of the Portuguese outfit then this group’s remaining matches are really just formalities.
Group D: Real Madrid vs Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk vs Sheriff
- Real Madrid - 12 points, Inter Milan - 10 points (Medium Risk): Both clubs are through to the round of 16, however; Real Madrid has the points advantage. Any result except a loss is enough for the Spaniards to win the group. Considering they top La Liga at the moment, Carlo Ancelotti may opt to rest a couple or more key players. The same goes for the Italians considering they are trying to catch up with Serie A leaders Napoli.
- Sheriff - 6 points, Shakhtar Donetsk - 1 point (High Risk): There is nothing to play for as Sheriff has already locked down third place and qualification to the Europa League.
Group E: Bayern Munich vs Barcelona and Benfica vs Dynamo Kyiv
- Bayern Munich - 15 points, Dynamo Kyiv - 1 point (High Risk): Both teams should be resting most of their key players, but for opposite reasons. Bayern won the group while Dynamo Kyiv is confirmed last.
- Barcelona - 7 points, Benfica - 5 points (Low Risk): It’s complicated to figure out which team needs what to qualify in this group. For Barcelona, the simplest path is to simply defeat Bayern and not concern itself with Benfica’s result against Dynamo Kyiv. In case Barcelona draws then Benfica must lose for the Catalans to qualify, considering that the head-to-head advantage lies with Benfica. A loss for Barcelona means they can qualify only if Benfica draws or loses. For their part, Benfica needs to win and cross their fingers for Bayern to defeat or draw with Barcelona to be able to qualify.
Group F: Manchester United vs Young Boys and Atalanta vs Villarreal
- Manchester United - 10 points (High Risk): The English outfit is in first place and thanks to Young Boys’ performance against Atalanta in MD-5, Man Utd has already won the group. Even if Villarreal can equal Man Utd’s points tally, the Spaniards will still place second due to losing twice to Ralf Rangnick’s men before the German took the helm at Old Trafford.
- Villarreal - 7 points, Atalanta - 6 points, Young Boys - 4 points: Villarreal and Atalanta face off in a direct clash for qualification. A draw is enough for the Spaniards to ease through but with Atalanta’s injury list now reduced to just Robin Gosens, they are back to scoring at least 3 or 4 goals per match. If Young Boys do the double over Man United, then they can qualify if Villareal defeats Atalanta.
Group G: Wolfsburg vs Lille and Salzburg vs Sevilla
- Lille - 8 points, Salzburg - 7 points, Sevilla - 6 points, Wolfsburg - 5 points: All four teams have a fair chance to qualify. Winning is the only path for Wolfsburg and Sevilla, while a draw for Lille and Salzburg will be enough. Other scenarios are possible as well but they are seemingly endless and will just cause confusion if I try to elaborate. From a fantasy point of view, knowing that Salzburg and Lille only need to draw to qualify is great information, but considering that all clubs except for Wolfsburg have a chance to win the group, then all bets are off. My advise is to go with your heart here.
Group H: Zenit vs Chelsea and Juventus vs Malmo
- Chelsea - 12 points, Juventus - 12 points (Medium Risk): Zenit and Malmo have nothing to play for in MD-6, so both Chelsea and Juventus could rest key players in their bids to win the group against weaker opponents.
- Zenit - 4 points, Malmo - 1 point (High Risk): Zenit has the upper hand in head-to-head results against Malmo, which means qualification to the Europa League is secured regardless of MD-6 results.
MD-6 FANTASY GUIDE
The guide for MD-6 is very simple. Clean sheets are always unpredictable, but will be especially so this week. Some teams are playing to win a group, to qualify to the round of 16, or to qualify for the Europa League. Other teams will field non-key players who will be looking to either enjoy their minutes in UCL, or to prove their worth to the team in games that do not matter.
The time for teams to play it safe is over, and we could see a huge amount of goals scored. I for one will be using my Limitless chip to focus on teams that will be looking to qualify. For my defense, I may focus heavily on Chelsea and PSG.
Notable Injuries / Returns from Injury and Suspensions
Keep an eye out for the weekend domestic league matches for new injuries / returns. This table will be updated in our Live Chat on Tuesday.
UCL MD-6 Suspension / Injury List
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 6 BUILD UP
Dhivakhar has already published our highly-anticipated MD-6 player picks article, and on Monday, David will be exploring his options for MD-6 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 thoughts to add? Any questions on your mind? Please post in the comments below!