All five clubs looking qualification in the eye in MD-4 succeeded. The next step for those clubs is to secure first place. There are several clubs with a chance to qualify in MD-5, but other clubs may have already started aiming for the Europa League drop spot in each group.
October fixture congestion is affecting the minutes of several players, impacting fantasy managers’ decisions. We have reached a congestion peak, and fitness levels are high. This may be the best time to activate your limitless chip — upcoming MD-6 will be nearer to the end of the tight schedule, when players will be highly prone to injuries. Also, many players will be afraid of injury when the World Cup is just two weeks later.
MD-5’s fixtures are all mirrors of MD-2. It features these marquee match-ups:
- Ajax vs Liverpool
- Barcelona vs Bayern Munich
- RB Leipzig vs Real Madrid
- Benfica vs Juventus
- Dortmund vs Man City
Tuesday’s early matches are RB Salzburg vs Chelsea and Sevilla vs Copenhagen, so we’ll see confirmed lineups for those four teams ahead of the transfer deadline.
On Wednesday, the two early matches are Club Brugge v FC Porto and Inter Milan v Viktoria Plzen, so we will see those four lineups confirmed before the substitution deadline.
Napoli 12 pts - Liverpool 9 pts - Ajax 3 pts - Rangers 0 pts
Napoli qualified with back-to-back 4-2 victories to become one of two clubs with full marks. Napoli will host hapless Rangers in MD-5 to either win the group or maintain the three point lead over Liverpool. The Scottish club has lost four of four, so from this moment on will consider even one point an achievement, the chance to transfer into Europa League rapidly sliding below the horizon.
Liverpool was back in form when taking out Rangers in UCL plus Man City and West Ham domestically. However, the shutout loss to rock-bottom Nottingham Forest is a red flag — or perhaps a sign that the Reds are already focused on Wednesday. Needing just one point to advance, they travel to Amsterdam to face a humbled Ajax, and a victory would provide Liverpool with a chance to win the group in MD-6 against Napoli. Eyes are on Klopp to set priorities and rotation — win more points in EPL or attempt to overcome the three goal deficit incurred on MD-1 against Napoli.
- Roma vs Napoli - Serie A - Sunday
- Nottingham Forest vs Liverpool - EPL - Saturday
- RKC Waalwij vs Ajax - Eredivisie - Saturday
- Rangers vs Livingston - Scottish Premiership - Saturday
Club Brugge 10 pts - Porto 6 pts - Atletico Madrid 4 pts - Leverkusen 3 pts
Porto awoke and jumped the ranks from last to second in the span of two matchdays by defeating Leverkusen 2-0 and 3-0. The return to form for the Portuguese champions could not have happened at a better time as they prepare to mount a first place challenge against group leaders Club Brugge. Porto can qualify by defeating Club Brugge if Leverkusen beats inconsistent Atletico Madrid. The Belgian club qualified after a difficult deserved draw with Atletico Madrid in MD-4. At home, Brugge can win this group now with a draw.
Struggling bottom clubs will face off in Madrid for a revival chance to enter MD-6 with qualification within reach. The group’s unpredictability plus Brugge’s outstanding performances are worth noting.
- Union Saint-Gilloise vs Club Brugge - Pro League - Saturday
- Porto vs Benfica - Primeira Liga - Friday
- Real Betis vs Atletico Madrid - La Liga - Sunday
- Leverkusen vs Wolfsburg - Bundesliga - Saturday
In MD-4, Bayern Munich had no trouble brushing aside Viktoria Plzen for the second time to advance to the knockouts and close on winning the group of death outright. Plzen’s defeat is expected in every match of this group, but the second-half performance was eye-catching. Inter Milan looks to take all three points and qualify with a slim chance to overtake Bayern in MD-6.
Barcelona needs to overcome Bayern before allowing their eyes and thoughts to wander to other results or chances in MD-6. At least the match is in Spain. The Catalan club cannot afford to tie points with Inter Milan at the end of the group stage.
- Hoffenheim vs Bayern Munich - Bundesliga - Saturday
- Fiorentina vs Inter Milan - Serie A - Saturday
- Barcelona vs Atletico Bilbao - La Liga - Sunday
- Viktoria Plzen vs Banik Ostrava - Czech First Division - Saturday
Tottenham 7 pts - Marseille 6 pts - Sporting CP 6 pts - Frankfurt 4 pts
Another match-day, and we’ll have another shuffle in Group D. Spurs’ thrilling 3-2 win over Frankfurt and Sporting’s succumbing to red cards yet again while losing 0-2 to Marseille in MD-4 pushed Tottenham and Marseille from 2nd and 4th respectively to 1st and 2nd.
Tottenham will take advantage of playing at home, Sporting CP suspensions, and drop in form to advance to the knockout stages. In the other match, Frankfurt hosts Marseille to recover the five points dropped in the Tottenham fixtures and revive their chances at qualification. It may just be me, but it sounds like all clubs will still have a chance to qualify after MD-5, which would push the limits of coach and players to create a spectacle.
- Tottenham vs Newcastle - EPL - Sunday
- Marseille vs Lens - Ligue 1 - Saturday
- Sporting CP vs Casa Pia - Primeira Liga - Saturday
- Monchengladbach vs Frankfurt - Bundesliga - Saturday
Chelsea 7 pts - Salzburg 6 pts - AC Milan 4 pts - Dinamo Zaghreb 4 pts
Here’s another table turned upside down over the last two match-days. Chelsea’s back-to-back victories over AC Milan mean that all clubs are still in reach of the knockout stages. Salzburg will host Chelsea for what can be a qualifying ticket match for both clubs depending on the other match result. The only way Chlesea can qualify and win the group is if they defeat Salzburg and the other match ends in a draw. Salzburg can qualify if they win with the same condition for the other match.
Dinamo Zaghreb will host AC Milan in the other tie of the group. Both clubs must consider this as a chance to find themselves in a better spot before MD-6 to increase qualification chances. Even though Chelsea seems a huge favorite to win the group under Potter’s management, the second qualification ticket is still wide open for the remaining clubs.
- Chelsea vs Man United - EPL - Saturday
- Salzburg vs Stun Graz - Austrian Bundesliga - Saturday
- AC Milan vs Monza - Serie A - Saturday
- HNK Hajduk Split vs Dinamo Zaghreb - 1. HNL - Friday
Real Madrid 10 pts - RB Leipzig 6 pts - Shakhtar Donetsk 5 pts - Celtic 1 pts
RB Leipzig followed Marseille and Chelsea in midway return to the group stage table top. Back-to-back victories over Celtic under Marco Rose’s management puts them in second with six points. Leipzig hosts title holders Real Madrid, but the Germans know well that MD-06 tie against Shakhtar Donetsk will be deciding their fate in UCL this season. Real Madrid continues to display unforgettable moments. Rudiger’s switch to attack in the last 5-10 minutes of MD-4 fixture against Shakhtar to eventually score the qualification goal with blood will be repeated all over social media and TV for months to come. The royal club need just one point to secure first place.
In the other fixture, one-pointer Celtic host Shakhtar Donetsk with slim chance to qualify for either the knockout stages of UCL or EL. The Ukranian champions must take advantage of the points that will be dropped from either Real Madrid and/or RB Leipzig. The only result to avoid at any cost is a loss which could lead to Leipzig winning the second qualification ticket.
- Real Madrid vs Seville - La Liga - Saturday
- FC Augsburg vs RB Leipzig - Bundesliga - Saturday
- Shakhtar Donetsk does not have a match on the weekend
- Heart of Midlothian vs Celtic - Scottish Premiership - Saturday
Man City 10 pts - Dortmund 7 pts - Sevilla 2 pts - Copenhagen 2 pts
Group G scored only two goals in MD-4. The early Alvarez red card stopped Man City from hammering Copenhagen again. The Danish champions visit Seville in MD-5 for low probability to take third place and an even lower probability to qualify for UCL knockout stages. The Spanish team continues to struggle for positive performances and results. The match against Copenhagen will serve as a final chance but similar to Barcelona; the chance is extremely low to qualify.
Erling Haaland will play against his former club for the second time since his transfer, but for the first time he returns to Dortmund. Man City needs only one point to lock first place, but Dortmund must win just to assure qualification.
- Man City vs Brighton - EPL - Saturday
- Dortmund vs Stuttgart - Bundesliga - Saturday
- Real Madrid vs Seville - La Liga - Saturday
- Copenhagen vs Mitdjylland - Danish Superliga - Saturday
PSG 8 pts - Benfica 8 pts - Juventus 3 pts - Maccabi Haifa 3 pts
Juventus maintains third place within Group H despite the surprise 0-2 defeat to Maccabi Haifa in MD-4. This is solely thanks to Benfica and PSG victories of Haifa with 2 goals margins. The Old Lady has a mountain to climb and they must win over both Benfica and PSG and still hope for a miracle in the other fixtures. Benfica will be first obstacle in Juventus’ way. A draw is enough for the Portuguese club to secure qualification but they could be aiming to win the group.
The goal differences and head to head scores at the top table do not favor any club. PSG has the small advantage of one more goal scored, but they also conceded one more goal than Benfica. Juventus has a two goal difference. PSG hosts Maccabi Haifa in hopes of securing the qualification spot and wait for the final match-day to win the group. In any way, more goals will be sought in this group by all clubs so it will make for a good showing.
- Ajaccio vs PSG - Ligue 1 - Friday
- Porto vs Benfica - Primeira Liga - Friday
- Juventus vs Emploi - Serie A - Friday
- Ironi Kiryat Shmona vs Maccabi Haifa - Ligat Ha’al - Saturday
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!).
Hold your breath for Dhivakhar’s Player Picks article that publishes on Sunday, and take all the hints and tips from David’s Rate My Team article on Monday. I will be back with the Pre-Deadline article on Tuesday with all the latest team news and injury reports.
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