The sporting schedule is back to normalcy this season, so the UCL is scheduled to kickoff this week on Tuesday. The first two matchups come from groups F & G: Sevilla hosts RB Salzburg, and Man United visits Switzerland to face Young Boys. The rest of Tuesday’s matches will start a couple of hours later.
MD-1 matchups include some world-class clashes. On Tuesday Bayern Munich hosts Barcelona in the ultimate test to measure the Catalan club’s recovery since Bayern inflicted an eight-goal pounding a couple of years ago in the UCL. Personally, I will be switching the channel back and forth with another match: Villarreal vs Atalanta — Both teams have grown in the past couple of years to become forces to be reckoned with in Europe.
A complaint signed by all football fans over the world should have been submitted to UEFA to bring one of the strong matches to the early slot. It is just one of those days when I am sure I will be missing many goals switching my screen from Inter Milan vs Real Madrid to Atletico Madrid vs Porto, or Liverpool vs AC Milan to Man City vs RB Leipzig.
MD-1 FANTASY GUIDE
- Young Boys vs Man United
- Malmo vs Juventus
- Chelsea vs Zenit
- Besiktas vs Dortmund
- Club Brugge vs PSG
- Sevilla vs RB Salzburg
I am on the fence when comes to Juventus keeping a clean sheet this season because they have not done well since manager Massimiliano Allegri’s return. The other doubtful clean sheet in the listed matches is Sevilla who managed to keep four clean sheets in the group stage last season, but Salzburg is an attack-oriented team with young talent showing up every season.
Safe bets are on PSG, Man United, Chelsea and Dortmund. The Germans have the best path going forward from there, while Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy is fixture proof. On the bench, the best strategy for a goalkeeper and defenders is to pick up players from Bayern, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter since they will be having a cruise from MD-2 to MD-5 before activating the limitless chip on MD-6.
Painters and Net Rattlers
- Group A: PSG may just break a record or two in their match against Brugge. The French are hungry for a UCL title and they will spare no effort to get the upper hand before facing Man City and Leipzig in the coming rounds. Picking up only a player or two from this group is the best course of action. Those players should be the first to be transferred out to bring in players with a match against Brugge in the next round.
- Group B: This is the most unpredictable group in my opinion. There is no knowing how AC Milan will measure up against Liverpool or how Atletico will react to last season’s round of 16 exit at the hands of Porto when they meet them again in MD-1. I would completely avoid this group in all positions.
- Group C: Portuguese champion Sporting beat Porto domestically last season, so their strength may be on level with their opponents Ajax making it a tough match to call. On the other hand, Dortmund visits Turkey with Erling Haaland in top form. He should be able to put one or two in the back of Besiktas’ net. It will be a surprise if the Norwegian forward does not achieve a 100% pick percentage in fantasy.
- Group D: Inter Milan and Real Madrid entertain when they play each other. Goals are expected, so picking a few players from those teams in midfield and attack should help you with easier picks in MD-2 through MD-5. Shakhtar Donetsk plays Sheriff. Picking the right player from Donetsk may prove a huge difference maker in MD-1
- Group E: Barcelona and Bayern will go for early dominance when they face each other. Fantasy picks should focus on the next rounds for this group. It is definitely not worth a look at Benfica or Dynamo Kyiv as they are set to play against the giants from the next match onward.
- Group F: Similar to group A, a player or two must be picked from Man United and then switched up to Atalanta and Villarreal when they are playing against Young Boys.
- Group G: Sevilla is favored, so stocking up the maximum number of players from the Spanish team in midfield and attack is a valid strategy. They will play against Salzburg in MD-1. The quality of the Lille and Wolfsburg squads is high but not enough to choose over the other teams in UCL.
- Group H: Juventus is in a tough spot this season. Federico Chiesa is a highlight in the dark at the moment, so he should have a spot in your fantasy squad. Chelsea is champion, and Thomas Tuchel does not seem like he is going to stop climbing the ladder to more glory any time soon.
It is highly unlikely for any team to risk rotating and resting any first-team players this round unless medically indicated. Therefore, this is a good week for fantasy players to pick top-drawer starters. The risk however is always present. All leagues were on break for ten days to accommodate national team fixtures. However, COVID-19 quarantine restrictions imposed among countries have become a major issue with clubs refusing to release players back to their countries and the countries imposing long quarantine periods on returning players.
La Liga is one of the leagues that facing controversy due to those restrictions. La Liga requested the postponement of two matches involving three UCL participants, but the request was rejected by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) causing further football political discomfort.
#LaLiga will challenge the Resolution of the President of the Competition Committee, issued by delegation of the President of the RFEF, to dismiss the deferral requests submitted by Villarreal CF, Sevilla FC and LaLiga. pic.twitter.com/G39bQR2OU6— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) September 2, 2021
Different websites are now showing both Sevilla vs Barcelona and Villarreal vs Alavis as postponed so this should be taken into account by fantasy managers in terms of player fitness and readiness!
Notable Injuries / Returns from Injury
Numerous injuries are reportedly recoverable by mid September which makes most listed players doubtful to play in UCL. As this article was researched and written before 11 September, readers are advised to follow the lineups of the domestic leagues for the teams they are interested in. NMA will update this list in the Pre-deadline and Live Chat article to keep you informed!
UCL MD-1 Injury / Suspension List
|Man City||Kevin De Bruyne||Muscle||September||Doubtful|
|Benjamin Mendy||Suspended by club|
|AC Milan||Franck Kessie||Hamstring||September||Doubtful|
|Inter Milan||Cristian Eriksen||Head||Unknown||Out|
|Real Madrid||Toni Kroos||Groin||September||Doubtful|
|Bayern Munich||Marcel Sabitzer||Groin||September||Out|
|Man Utd||Alex Telles||Ankle||September||Doubtful|
MD-1 DIFFICULTY INDEX
To help guide your player selections, here are my difficulty tables for MD-1:
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 watchlists.
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 1 BUILD UP
My fellow UCL expert Dhivakhar will publish his view on player picks for matchday 1 tomorrow, and Olakunle will post a Rate My Team article on Monday, and you may keep coming back here 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!