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UCL Fantasy Preview: MD-2

An early look at UCL MD-2 with long-range radar on some fantasy prospects.

Robert Lewandowski - FC Bayern Muenchen - Champions League Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The focus remains high on group A as new-look PSG welcomes back Man City in a repeat to last season’s semifinal. The Parisians failed to take the expected three points from Club Brugge in MD-1 when they were held to a draw. After Man City, they will play two consecutive matches against RB Leipzig.

The waters are expected to calm in groups D and E with Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona facing lesser opponents. The excitement spotlight (but not necessarily fantasy attention) in MD-2 shifts to groups F and H where champions from Chelsea fly to Turin to face wounded Juventus, plus Villarreal will stake last season’s Europa League title against visiting Man United and UCL world-beater Cristiano Ronaldo. Will the recent loss to another Villa haunt Red Devils’ sleep?

All group B matches have high competitive potential, so it is worth tuning in to watch AC Milan vs Atletico Madrid and FC Porto vs Liverpool.


MD-2 FIXTURES


MD-2 FANTASY GUIDE

Real Madrid v Real Mallorca - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Quarantine Zone:

  • Shakhtar Donetsk vs Inter Milan
  • Real Madrid vs Sheriff
  • Dortmund vs Sporting
  • Ajax vs Besiktas
  • Atalanta vs Young Boys
  • Zenit vs Malmo
  • Bayern Munich vs Dynamo Kiev

Unlike MD-1, there is high potential for clean sheets this round. Combining Manuel Neuer and either Inter Milan goalkeeper Samir Handanovic or Real Madrid shot stopper Thibaut Courtois should guarantee a clean sheet every round until end of MD-5.

Also, choosing all your defenders from these three teams should yield the highest returns from the back line, especially considering (with the exception of Real Madrid) that fullbacks are in high form.

Such a strategy however may limit your options in midfield or attack, so it will not be a bad idea to throw in a defender or two from other teams like Robin Gosens or TAA since they tend to compensate with assists and goals. Zenit defenders may prove strong differential picks this round. I would consider Douglas Santos against Malmo.


Painters and Net Rattlers

Chelsea v Aston Villa - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images
  • Group A: City’s defense is not what it was last season even though one could argue that rotation against Leipzig in MD-1 was the reason that Christopher Nkunku recorded a historic hattrick. PSG must win this round or hope for a result in their favour between Leipzig and Club Brugge. A great differential pick in this group may be Noa Lang (Brugge winger), since Leipzig is not exactly the best in keeping clean sheets.
FC Metz v Paris Saint Germain - Ligue 1 Uber Eats Photo by John Berry/Getty Images
  • Group B: MD-1 was proof of the unpredictability of this group. What remained unchanged was the defensive strength of Porto and Atletico; however, Milan and Liverpool will push to break through. This is an interesting group with matches that are extremely hard to call in each match day, so unless you possess genuine prophecy, I’d stay away in fantasy and just enjoy the show.
  • Group C: Dortmund and Ajax are set to repeat easy victories earned in MD-1 when they swap opponents Besiktas and Sporting. However, fantasy managers may need to think twice and pick only the essential players since these favorites will face each other in both MD-3 and MD-4.
Real Madrid v Real Mallorca - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images
  • Group D: Sheriff and Shakhtar Donetsk should not be trouble on paper for Real Madrid and Inter Milan for the next four match-days, so a couple of mid/front players can be expected to return high points.
  • Group E: Similar to group D, Bayern and Barcelona are set for relatively easy matches until they meet again in MD-6 (when a chip may cure many concerns). Barcelona’s recent record against weaker teams suggests that hoarding only Bayern players is the best way forward in this group. Personally, I still consider Bayern a couple of levels above all other European clubs, and I would argue that losing to PSG last season was entirely down to the club’s crowded physio room.
Atalanta BC v US Sassuolo - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images
  • Group F: Unfortunately, Man United is inconsistent (again) this season. Even though the English club has extremely attractive fantasy options, they’re all risky on the day (high ceilings but low floors). Atalanta has the potential to destroy Young Boys this week unless the Swiss point against Man Utd was not a fluke! (Okay, an early rash red card was probably a fluke)
  • Group G: Sevilla’s summer transfers were applauded by most critics, and that lead me to forget that new names usually need time adapt to a new style of play. Sevilla is currently weaker in attack and defense compared to last season, but that could change any minute when the new pieces fully integrate. This may as well happen against Wolfsburg in MD-2. Salzburg and Lille will entertain when they face each other in MD-2; picking a one-week star player from either side may prove a strong differential.
Chelsea v Aston Villa - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by James Chance/Getty Images
  • Group H: Juventus won domestically for the first time this season after beating Malmo in MD-1, but then Juve failed to beat AC Milan midweek. The Italian side will host cup holders Chelsea in MD-2. This match will witness the return of board-favorite Federico Chiesa who missed the MD-1 victory against Malmo, but will he be enough to protect Max Allegri from being sacked? Meanwhile, Sardar Azmoun is also set to return to Zenit’s front line against Malmo; another strong differential pick for MD-2.

Rotation Risk

It has been a congested schedule for all UCL teams as they played matches mid-week (league or cup). There is a high risk of rotation for teams playing weaker opponents (e.g. Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Bayern and Barcelona).


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.

Matchday 2 Injury / Suspension List

Club Player Injury Expected Return Status
Club Player Injury Expected Return Status
PSG Mauro Icardi Returned
Layvin Kurzawa Calf September Doubtful
Marco Verratti Discomfort October Out
Leo Messi Knee September Doubtful
Juan Bernat Ligament September Doubtful
Angel Di Maria Suspended until MD-3
Man City Kevin De Bruyne Returned
Benjamin Mendy Suspended by club
Ilkay Gundogan Knock September Doubtful
Aymeric Laporte Groin September Doubtful
Rodri Knock September Doubtful
John Stones Muscle September Doubtful
Phil Foden Returned
RB Leipzig Lukas Klostermann Hip October Out
Angelino Suspended
Liverpool James Milner Returned
Thiago Alcantara Calf October Out
Naby Keita Ankle October Out
Harvey Elliott Ankle January Out
Roberto Firmino Muscle September Doubtful
AC Milan Franck Kessie Returned
Tiemoue Bakayoko Ankle October Out
Simon Kjaer Hamstring September Doubtful
Porto Mangulu Mbemba Suspended
Atletico Luis Suarez Returned
Hector Herrera Returned
Joao Felix Returned
Stefan Savic Suspended until MD-4
Thomas Lemar Muscle October Out
Dortmund Throgan Hazard Returned
Emre Can Muscle October Out
Giovanni Reyna Hamstring October Out
Mateu Morey Ligament December Out
Ajax Klaassen Returned
Andrea Onana Suspended until MD-4
Inter Milan Cristian Eriksen Head Unknown Out
Arturo Vidal Thigh October Out
Stefano Sensi Knee October Out
Real Madrid Toni Kroos Muscle September Doubtful
Luka Modric Returned
Gateth Bale Hamstring October Out
Daniel Carvajal Calf October Out
Ferland Mendy Discomfort October Out
Barcelona Sergio Aguero Calf October Out
Gerard Pique Returned
Jordi Alba Discomfort October Out
Martin Braithwaite Knee November Out
Masour Dembele Hamstring October Out
Pedri Meniscous November Out
Ansu Fati Discomfort September Doubtful
Bayern Munich Marcel Sabitzer Returned
Benjamin Pavard Returned
Jamal Musuala Ankle October Out
Kingsley Coman Heart October Out
Dayot Upamecano Returned
Man Utd Alex Telles Returned
Marcus Rashford Shoulder October Out
Edison Cavani Knock September Doubtful
Wan Bissaka Suspended until MD-3
Amad Diallo Thigh October Out
Villarreal Gerard Moreno Muscle October Out
Daniel Parejo Returned
Atalanta Luis Muriel Muscle September Doubtful
Duvan Zapata Returned
Hans Hatebour Muscle October Out
Juventus Aaron Ramsey Returned
Arthur Muscle September Doubtful
Chelsea Timo Werner Calf September Doubtful
Edouard Mendy Hip September Doubtful
Christian Pulisic Ankle October Out
Zenit Dejan Lovren Leg October Out
Serdar Azmoun Muscle September Doubtful
Sevilla Youssef Nesyri Suspended
Wolfsburg Anthony Brooks Suspended

MD-DIFFICULTY INDEX

To help guide your player selections, here are my difficulty tables for MD-2:


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.

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Group-by-Group Analysis

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.

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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!

  • League: Never Manage Alone
  • Code: 71MQALVG07

MATCHDAY 2 BUILD UP

My fellow UCL expert Sravan will publish his view on player picks for matchday 2 on Sunday, Dhivakhar 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!

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Have anything to add? Still have questions? Please post in the comments below!

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