The uniquely scheduled season continues with a heavy October fixture list. The only thing lacking from this month’s schedule is resting time. In between top-flight league matches, the world will witness three match-days of UCL starting October 4th and ending on the 26th. By the time this article drops, most of the UCL clubs will have completed their domestic ties with only a handful waiting to play early Sunday.
With the exception of Robert Lewandowski who returned only 2 points on MD-2, the top five selected players (Erling Haaland, Joao Cancelo, Thibaut Courtois and Kilyan Mbappe) returned 6, 6, 7 and 9 points respectively. The PSG forward and Man City wing-back are among the top five best fantasy performers before MD-3. Slightly better are Benfica’s Grimaldo, Bayern’s Leroy Sane, and Club Brugge’s Abakar Sylla with 24, 23 and 23 total points respectively.
Tuesdays early matches are Marseille vs Sporting and Bayern vs Victoria Plzen, so we’ll have confirmed lineups for those four teams ahead of the transfer deadline.
Napoli 6 pts - Liverpool 3 pts - Ajax 3 pts - Rangers 0 pts
Ajax will be hosting the first of back to back UCL matches against Napoli in what promises to be one of the most exciting on MD-3. Ajax welcomes mid-table club Go Ahead Eagles domestically before facing Napoli midweek. Group A leaders Napoli will also host one of Serie A mid-table teams Torino today.
Liverpool is hoping to return to form after the international break as the Reds play two consecutive matches at Anfield. On Saturday they host Brighton followed by the UCL MD-3 fixture against Rangers. The Scottish club plays a difficult domestic away match against Heart of Midlothian before travelling to the neighbouring country.
Going for Liverpool players on MD-3 is highly advisable because MD-4 is a repeat fixture. It is preferable to review Jorgen Klopp’s line-up in the EPL fixture before deciding which players to pick. When it comes to Napoli and Ajax, I would keep away from goalkeepers and defenders since I expect a thriller.
Club Brugge 6 pts - Leverkusen 3 pts - Atletico Madrid 3 pts - Porto 0 pts
Group B’s unlikely leaders Club Brugge are set to play twice against favored Atletico Madrid. The first of the two mirrored matches will be at home for the Belgian champions. They will be preparing for the match after playing home against mid-table KV Mechelen domestically. Simeone and Co. start their October La Liga schedule on the road against struggling Sevilla before traveling on to Belgium.
Leverkusen aims to maintain a top-half ranking in Group B by handing a third loss to Porto in Portugal; the latter will try to push their way into a qualification spot. Leverkusen’s confidence must have dropped after the heavy 0-4 defeat against Bayern last night while Porto similarly decimated Sporting Braga 4-1 on the same night.
From a fantasy standpoint, Group B is highly unpredictable, but on paper Atletico Madrid players are bound to return high points.
Bayern Munich 6 pts -Barcelona 3 pts - Inter Milan 3 pts - Viktoria Plzen 0 pts
Bayern Munich passed the giants tests successfully by defeating both Barcelona and Inter Milan before MD-3. They are set to continue winning ways when they host relative minnows Viktoria Plzen midweek. The Czech champions may be satisfied with UCL participation honours, but Barcelona and Inter Milan will not. They expect to put pressure on Bayern in rankings for a potential takeover towards the end of the group stage. Failing to qualify to the next stage would be a catastrophe.
Barcelona will visit Milan for the highlight tie of MD-3. They must however keep their minds focused on the tricky away match against Mallorca in La Liga this weekend. Inter Milan was one of the clubs that benefited from the international break, their lengthy injury list diminishing to just a couple of names ahead of the home match against Jose Mourinho’s Roma.
Signing the best performing Bayern players is a must for all fantasy managers out there. Jamal Musiala may be overlooked by many, but his star is starting to shine under Negelmann’s lead, creating and scoring goals.
Sporting CP 6 pts - Tottenham 3 pts - Frankfurt 3 pts - Marseille 0 pts
The underdogs’ group of death continued to deliver exciting football and surprising results. After losing both opening matches, Marseille is set to face group leader Sporting CP on MD-3. The French club delivered a convincing 3-0 victory on the road against Angers SCO in Ligue 1. Sporting CP also won a domestic league match 3-1 against Gil Vicente yesterday.
The second match of this group features Frankfurt vs Tottenham. The London club led by Antonio Conte fell in the capital derby against Arsenal FC before travelling to Germany. Frankfurt will be happy with the home advantage both in their Bundesliga match against Union Berlin and UCL tie against Tottenham.
It’s hard to identify differentials in this group as both games feature evenly-matched opponents. Picking up either of Sporting defenders Coates or Goncalo Inacio (both priced at 4.6 m) could be a good move at this point, but it will all depend on Sporting CP continuing their strong start to the season.
AC Milan 4 pt - Dinamo Zaghreb 3 pts - Salzburg 2 pt - Chelsea 1 pts
After winning Serie-A last season, AC Milan’s rebuilding in recent years and their ability to hold key players in the summer transfer window is paying off. After playing against Empoli on the road, the Italian club will fly on to play at Chelsea. The struggling English club will be tested properly under new management this week by playing at Crystal Palace today before hosting AC Milan.
Both Dinamo Zaghreb and RB Salzburg will hope to take advantage on MD-3 to either contest Milan at the top or extend the lead over Chelsea. Before travelling to Austria, Dinamo Zaghreb play at home against Slaven Belupo. Salzburg will be playing at home against LASK domestically in preparation.
Games in this group are evenly matched in my opinion, so I will not be looking at differentials. However, there is a chance of one side suddenly collapsing to concede a heavy unexpected defeat in both matches.
Real Madrid 6 pts - Shakhtar Donetsk 4 pts - Celtic 1 pts - RB Leipzig 0 pts
Title-holders Real Madrid are scheduled to play at home against Osasuna in La Liga on Sunday. Carlo Ancelotti will push to maintain his perfect winning record this season in all competitions. In UCL, Real Madrid will host Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday for the group lead. The Ukrainian champions play on the road domestically against Metalist Kharkiv in preparation.
Underperforming RB Leipzig will try to return to form in Bundesliga against Vfl Bochum before hosting Celtic on MD-3 in UCL. The Scottish club will host Motherwell domestically before their travels.
Only if Leipzig turns in against Bochum I will be thinking hard about signing Nkunku or new signing Raum. The latter is a midfielder priced at only 5.0m and he has the potential to return points if Leipzig delivers. Another option is defender Simakan (4.5 m) who has accumulated 13 points despite Leipzig losing the first two matches.
Man City 6 pts - Dortmund 3 pts - Copenhagen 1 pts - Sevilla 1 pts
Even though Sevilla continues to struggle in all competitions, Group G is developing as expected — Man City and Dortmund occupy the qualifying spots. Sevilla hosts Atletico Madrid in La Liga today before welcoming Dortmund. The German club’s post-international break journey starts on the road against Koln domestically.
Title-contending Man City hosts a Manchester derby against Manchester United on Sunday; Copenhagen hosts AGF Aarhus before travelling to Manchester for the UCL MD-3 tie.
There is no doubt that Joao Cancelo (6.6 m), Kevin De Bruyne (10.5 m) and Erling Haaland (11.1 m) are must-haves in the next couple of UCL matches against Copenhagen despite their price tags.
PSG 6 pts - Benfica 6 pts - Juventus 0 pts - Maccabi Haifa 0 pts
Group H leading clubs Benfica and PSG are set to battle it out for first place after both defeated Juventus convincingly. PSG will host Nice today before travelling to Portugal; Benfica plays on the road against Vitoria Guimaraes in Primeira Liga over the weekend before returning home for PSG’s visit.
Max Allegri’s future is hanging in the balance at Juventus after a rocky start in Serie-A and a poor one in UCL. On Sunday, the Old Lady hosts Bologna. Maccabi Haifa play domestically against Maccabi Tel Aviv today before travelling to Turin.
Juventus is bound to win twice over the next couple of match-days against inexperienced Haifa, so picking up a Juve player or two may be a profitable plan. However, I’ll avoid specific recommendations because I honestly cannot trust any Juventus players at the moment.
Reminder: Groups A, B, C and D play on the same day while groups E, F, G and H play on the other day of each UCL match-day so make sure to choose one goalkeeper from each set.
DTuron’s fantasy UCL strategy is a must read for all fantasy managers. And of course, please join me, DTuron, and hundreds of others in NMA’s UCL mini-league, and be sure to follow www.nevermanagealone.com for comprehensive fantasy coverage of the Champions League (and EPL and World Cup too!).
Stay tuned for Dhivakhar’s player picks article publishing on Sunday and take all the hints and tips from Sraven’s upcoming rate my team article on Monday. I will be back with pre-deadline article on Tuesday with all the latest team news.