The last UCL match-day of 2021 is here, and there are some cracking games to look forward to, as per usual.
Both Group-A games (Leipzig vs Man City & PSG vs Club Brugge) are scheduled for the early kick-off, with the confirmed lineups scheduled for an hour before the fantasy deadline. Tune into NMA’s Pre-Deadline and Live Chat for those and injury reports.
Having already sealed the #1 & #2 spots respectively, Man City and PSG are expected to post heavily rotated line-ups. Look out for the likes of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe (PSG), Riyadh Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne, João Cancelo & Cole Palmer (Man City) in the starting line-ups, as they could get big points against relatively weaker opposition if featured.
Odysseas Vlachodimos (€5.1m, Benfica vs Dynamo Kyiv)
Vlachodimos is the top point-earning goalkeeper in UCL Fantasy. Apart from keeping three clean sheets in five UCL appearances, the greek net-minder has also made crucial saves throughout the campaign, including a penalty save against Lewandowski in MD-4. In the reverse fixture (MD-1), Benfica managed to shut out Kyiv to just eight tame efforts on goal (0.59 xG) with Vlachodimos relatively untroubled. More of the same will be necessary if the Portuguese club is to have any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of UCL.
Jan Oblak (€6.6m, FC Porto vs Atletico Madrid)
Atletico Madrid has been unlucky to concede so many goals. Despite the exceptional underlying defensive stats in La Liga (12.9 xGC — best in La Liga), Atletico has managed just one clean sheet (against FC Porto in the MD-1 reverse fixture) in 5 UCL games. Defensive stability will be essential for Atletico as the Spanish club now finds itself in a must-win match to have any chance of advancing. Actual stats will sooner or later catch up with the underlying stats, so don’t be surprised by a Jan Oblak clean sheet.
Nicolás Otamendi (€5m, Benfica vs Dynamo Kyiv)
Otamendi has the most “Player of the Match” points (6) among all defenders. Apart from making crucial tackles, interceptions & ball recoveries (37 in 4 appearances — 5th among all defenders) Otamendi has regularly marauded forward, making the Copa America winner a good attacking threat, especially on set pieces. Benfica’s MD-6 opponents Dynamo Kyiv have managed to score just once in five UCL games, having already failed to score past the Eagles in MD-1. With Benfica in a must-win vise, expect the Portuguese club to be well-organized at the back.
Matthijs de Ligt (€5.6m, Juventus vs Malmo)
Juventus lost ground to Chelsea in MD-5, courtesy of the Old Lady’s 4-0 humbling by the Blues. Although qualification to the knockout stages is already secure, Juventus is expected to go all guns blazing in the MD-6 game against Malmo to have a chance of winning the group if Chelsea slip up against Zenit. In the MD-1 reverse fixture, Juventus drubbed Malmo 3-0, managing to restrict the Swedish Club’s attack to a trifling xG of 0.44. With Juventus expected to keep a clean sheet, it could be useful to buy De ligt as the Dutchman has the most ball recoveries (36) among Juventus defenders (6th among all defenders). As I write, Juventus is yet to play its Serie-A game against Genoa. Tune in to Miq’s Pre-Deadline and Live Chat for fresh injury/availability updates on De ligt and other Juventus players.
Antonio Rudiger (€5.8m, FC Zenit vs Chelsea)
Rudiger is the most consistent UCL point-earner among defenders. Apart from pulling off Messianic dribbles, Rudiger offers reliability as the first name on the Chelsea teamsheet. Rudiger is due a goal in the UCL for his mazy runs, and struggling Zenit has nothing to play for, so MD-6 could be the game where the center-back breaks his UCL goal-scoring duck to seal Chelsea’s top spot in Group H.
Reinildo Mandava (€5.2m, Wolfsburg vs LOSC Lille)
Owned by just 1% of managers, Mandava is one of the most overlooked UCL fantasy defenders in the game. Mandava is joint #3 among defenders for points and is also #3 in the entire game for ball recoveries (39 ball recoveries in 5 appearances). With everything to play for in Group G going into MD-6, Lille will once again count on Mandava for his vital interceptions and tackles. In the MD-1 reverse fixture, Lille held on to a 0-0 draw and restricted 10-man Wolfsburg to just two tame efforts at goal (0.07xG). To ensure the top spot, Lille has to go for the win, and Mandava is key to Lille’s defensive stability.
Like Rudiger, Militao is one of the most consistent point-earning defenders in the game. Militao is ranked joint #4 for points among defenders and #4 among all players for ball recoveries. With a draw against Inter Milan sufficient to seal the top spot in Group D, Madrid is expected to sit back and not take unnecessary risks at the back, which increases Militao’s clean sheet potential.
AC Milan is in a do-or-die situation going into MD-6. Kessie is peaking at the right time, scoring once and providing an assist in his last four appearances for AC Milan with the Rossoneri needing no less than a win in the game, likely against a heavily rotated Liverpool side to have a chance of advancing. Priced at €5.2m, Kessie is one of the best bargains in the game.
Lucas Ocampos(€8.2m, Salzburg vs Sevilla)
Ocampos is in fine goal-scoring touch at the moment. Sevilla’s talisman has now scored five goals in his last eight appearances for La Liga club. With the all-important Group-G clash against Salzburg coming up, Ocampos & Co will look to make amends for their lackluster display in the MD-1 reverse fixture.
Hans Vanaken (€7.7m, PSG vs Club Brugge)
Although Brugge is already out of contention for the knockout stages, the Belgians still have a shot at Europa League qualification. Having already sealed the #2 place in Group-A to advance, PSG is expected to post a heavily-rotated lineup for MD-6, which Brugge can exploit. Vanaken has been the main goal threat for Club Brugge in this season’s UCL, the Belgian scoring thrice and providing an assist in five UCL appearances.
Mason Mount (€7.5m, FC Zenit vs Chelsea)
Mason Mount is back with a bang. Making his first full start since returning from injury in GW-14 of the premier league, the English midfielder scored a goal and provided an assist in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Watford. In GW-15, despite ending up on the losing side, Mount yet again scored a goal and provided an assist, continuing his red hot form coming into UCL MD-6.
Christopher Nkunku (€8.2m, RB Leipzig vs Man City)
Nkunku is the top point-getter in UCL fantasy. The Leipzig attacker can’t stop scoring at the moment, having already netted seven times in five UCL appearances, including a hattrick against MD-6 opponents Man City in the reverse fixture (MD-1). With Man City having nothing to play for in MD-6, Pep is expected to field a heavily rotated lineup, which could play into Leipzig’s hands as the German club still has a Europa League spot to fight for.
Paulo Dybala (€9.2m, Juventus vs Malmo)
With the #1 spot still to play for in Group-H, Juventus will put out its best 11 in MD-6 with Dybala (26 points in three appearances) set to spearhead the Old Lady’s attack. In the MD-1 reverse fixture, Juventus coasted to a comfortable 3-0 win in a game where the Italian club took 16 shots (2.58xG) with Dybala scoring a goal and orchestrating wave after wave of Juve attacks. Don’t be surprised by a similar scoreline in MD-6 with Dybala set to be in the thick of things yet again.
Erling Haaland (€11m, Dortmund vs Besiktas)
Although Dortmund is already out of contention for UCL Knockout stage spots courtesy of the crushing 3-1 defeat to Sporting CP, the black and yellows have nothing but pride to lose. With Reyna, Morey, Burki, Hazard, Moukoko, and Brandt all out injured, the German club has limited options in attack, which could force Haaland back from injury for the MD-6 home game against Besiktas. Besiktas could be at the receiving end of a hammering as Haaland & Co will be extra motivated to get back to winning ways after a disappointing Der Klassiker loss to Bayern Munich. In the MD-1 reverse fixture, Dortmund comfortably defeated Besiktas 2-1 in a game where the Germans peppered the Turkish club’s goal with 14 shots (3.22xG). After missing over a month of football due to a hip injury, Haaland seems to be back to his menacing best, having already scored twice in the two league games he featured in.
Karim Adeyemi (€7.7m, RB Salzburg vs Sevilla)
With everything to play for in Group G, Salzburg faces Sevilla in MD-6. In the reverse fixture, Sevilla went down to 10 men and held on to a 1-1 draw in a game where four penalties were awarded. Salzburg missed two of their three PKs, all earned by Adeyemi. Salzburg was unlucky not to get the win despite posting a healthy xG of 2.70. Adeyemi, Salzburg’s talisman, is yet again expected to be a handful for Sevilla defenders to deal with.
Check out Miq’s insightful UCL MD-6 Fantasy Preview, which covers useful information about rotation risks and injury news. 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, Miq will be posting the UCL Live Chat article on Tuesday — be sure to join in!
Have thoughts to add? Any questions on your mind? And of course, if you have played a chip (or are sweating over whether to do so), please share. See you in the comments below!