Five clubs are starting MD-4 with their knockout stage qualification tickets within sight. All five have the full nine points from the three matches so far, which means they need just three more points to secure early qualification.
The Five Nine-Pointers:
- Napoli sent an unexpected warning message to Europe’s elite by dismembering Ajax in Amsterdam 6-1. Napoli now tops Group-A with nine points.
- Club Brugge’s 2-0 victory over La Liga champions Atletico Madrid was one of the most shocking surprises, putting the Belgians atop Group-B with 9 points.
- Bayern Munich finished off Viktoria Plzen 5-0 on MD-3, adding the Czeck club to the victim list.
- Title-holding Real Madrid defeated Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 at home, squandering numerous attempts on goal that could’ve widened the margin of victory.
- Last but not least, Man City followed the trend created by Napoli and Bayern to send Copenhagen’s men back home with five goals in the back of their net.
Many fantasy managers missed on points in MD-3 due to early substitutions of some of the most selected players. For example, Erling Haaland returned nine points in the first half before Pep took him out to preserve him for the rest of October. Robert Lewandowski remains among the top-five most selected players, but he earned only two points against Inter Milan. Thibaut Courtois missed out due to injury against Shakhtar Donetsk but remains selected by 35% fantasy managers. Haaland, Cancelo and Mbappe are the top three selected players, and they returned 9, 5 and 2 points respectively on MD3.
MD-4’s marquis features are all mirrors of MD-3:
Napoli 9 pts - Liverpool 6 pts - Ajax 3 pts - Rangers 0 pts
Ajax is fortunate to play domestically against FC Volendam, the club that occupies last place in Eredivisie, allowing the club to fully prepare for the return match at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium against Napoli. The advantage is mitigated by Napoli playing Serie-A second-last Cremonese over the weekend.
The return leg of Liverpool vs Rangers will be played in Scotland. Rangers are currently second in the Scottish Premiership and will play home against third place St. Mirren today. Liverpool is going to be tested with a difficult fixture away against EPL leading Arsenal on Sunday before travelling for UCL MD-4.
October’s sporting schedule is unprecedented. The congestion is caused by the World Cup also unorthodox autumn timing this year. Players will be rested without warning, and fantasy managers will suffer, so keep this in mind while making your fantasy transfers or selecting your captain.
Napoli’s striker Raspadori made the first team due to first team striker Osimhen’s injury. He proved himself so good with the ball that coach Spalletti has opted to substitute him off after finishing off Ajax early in the second half in an effort to protect him for the upcoming matches. With that in mind, investing in a Liverpool player may be a good idea if the Reds pass their test against Arsenal.
Club Brugge 9 pts - Leverkusen 3 pts - Porto 3 pts - Atletico Madrid 3 pts
Group-B’s unlikely leader Club Brugge is set to travel to Madrid for the return leg against Atletico Madrid. The Belgian club can leave the rest of the group scrabbling over the second qualification ticket and Europa League qualification spot by beating Atletico again in MD-4.
Brugge is third in Jupiler and need to focus on defeating seventh place Westerlo today to keep up with Genk and Antwerp. Atletico will host mid-table Girona before the match against Club Brugge. Diego Simeone must add more ideas to his tactics if his long tenure at Atletico Madrid is to continue.
Porto was victimized by the worst decision VAR can deliver: disallowing a Porto goal because of a Porto defender’s handball in his own box, thus turning a Porto goal into a Leverkusen penalty. However, the PK was saved to raise the number of cancelled goals in the first half to four! Porto’s return to form will be tested today away against Liga Portigal sixth-place Portimonense before travelling to Germany. The collapse of Bayer Leverkusen may be put to a halt or confirmed today when the Germans face Schalke in Bundesliga.
The form of all the clubs in this group could change in the next day, so from a Fantasy view point I recommend avoiding all their players.
Bayern Munich 9 pts - Inter Milan 6 pts -Barcelona 3 pts - Viktoria Plzen 0 pts
Bayern Munich had no trouble winning all three points at home against Viktoria Plzen on MD-3. The return leg will be played away, but before that, the German giants play against in-form Dortmund in a match that could affect both clubs’ starting-XI in UCL MD-4.
Barcelona caught up with Real Madrid in La Liga after the latter failed to win against Osasuna on GW-6. The Catalan club hosts Celta Vigo on Sunday before welcoming Inter Milan. The Italian club and coach Simone Inzaghi are holding it together with the former on the edge of being sacked over recent weeks. Inter will play away against Sassuolo over the weekend.
Keep an eye on how the match against Dortmund develops and ends. This will be the only source for fantasy managers to choose their three Bayern players wisely on MD-4.
Sporting CP 6 pts - Tottenham 4 pts - Frankfurt 4 pts - Marseille 3 pts
The underdogs’ group of death is becoming more complicated. Marseille’s 4-1 victory over Sporting CP in MD-3 just shows how last place can deliver a blow to first place in this group. The match will be repeated on MD-4, but this time in Portugal. Sporting CP is surprisingly eighth in Liga Portugal and will play against relegation-threatened Santa Clara on Saturday. Marseille faces AC Ajaccio in Ligue 1 before UCL MD-4 travels.
By the way, was anyone else a victim of Adan’s red card last Tuesday?
Frankfurt vs Tottenham was the only goalless match of MD-3. The return match is in London among Tottenham fans. Spurs first had to focus on their EPL match at Brighton, which was mission accomplished 0-1. Frankfurt played against Bochum on Saturday before going to London.
Harry Kane was very disappointing in MD-3 as most of Tottenham attacks were intercepted out of his feet. With only two goals scored overall in the first leg matches, I can recommend to pick up only defenders and goalkeepers from this group... but don’t pick the ones who receive red cards!
Salzburg 5 pts - Chelsea 4 pts - AC Milan 4 pts - Dinamo Zaghreb 3 pts
Victories in MD-3 for Chelsea and Salzburg push both clubs from the bottom to the top of the table. Chelsea is on the way to revival after hiring new coach Potter. The Blues travel to Milan for the return leg after defeating Wolves on Saturday. AC Milan has a difficult tie at home against Juventus, which could affect the side’s preparation for hosting the return leg against Chelsea,
Both Salzburg and Dinamo Zagreb will have matches against Chelsea and Milan after MD-4, so winning all three points is a must to have any chance for a surprise qualification. Salzburg plays away against SCR Altach in Austrian Bundesliga, while Dinamo Zagreb’s domestic match is postponed, giving the advantage of rest and home grounds to the Croatian club.
Salburg’s Okafor has scored in every UCL match this season and he can continue to do the same against Dinamo Zaghreb. Chelsea looked very good, and Reece James’ return to many Fantasy manager’s squads is expected.
Real Madrid 9 pts - Shakhtar Donetsk 4 pts - RB Leipzig 3 pts - Celtic 1 pts
Marco Rose is bringing back the quality that RB Leipzig missed before he took the helm just before the international break. My personal gamble on Christopher Nkunku paid off as a captain on MD-3. He was not the best, but a total of 16 points beat day-1 captain Jamal Musiala who was subbed off at half time. Leipzig will play away against Mainz in Bundesliga on Saturday while Celtic visit St. Johnstone in Scotland on the same day.
Title-holdeing Real Madrid will continue playing without Courtois since his return date is not yet defined due to a back injury. In La Liga, Los Blancos play a tricky tie at Getafe. Ukranian club Shakhtar Donetsk postponed an away match at FC Lviv, so the players will have all the rest they need before challenging Real Madrid’s early qualification.
RB Leipzig is revived, and Real Madrid continues to be the best in Europe. Keep your team rich with both clubs’ players on MD-4, but be wary that they play each other in MD-5.
Man City 9 pts - Dortmund 6 pts - Sevilla 1 pts - Copenhagen 1 pts
It’s amusing that Sevilla jumped from fourth to third place over MD-3 despite the heavy 1-4 loss to Dortmund. It happened only because the negative goal difference of Copenhagen was even worse because the Danish club was clobbered 0-5 at the hands of Man City.
Sevilla’s coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked (too late in my opinion) after the home defeat to Dortmund. The club re-appointed Jorge Sampaoli as manager on Friday. The returning coach will be tested against Atletico Bilbao before traveling to Germany for the UCL return leg. Sevilla may be fortunate to play Dortmund after the latter plays over the weekend against Bayern Munchen.
Manchester City pasted Southampton 4-0 in EPL, hoping to benefit if Arsenal drops points vs Liverpool. Copenhagen hosts Nordsjaelland in Danish Superliga before preparing to resist the Manchester City invasion.
Dortmund may not be the best team to bet on in MD-4. There’s the match against Bayern Munich over the weekend as well as the change in Sevilla head coach. Manchester City is scheduled in the early Tuesday time-slot, so the transfers you plan should hang on the announcement of Pep’s lineup.
PSG 7 pts - Benfica 7 pts - Juventus 3 pts - Maccabi Haifa 0 pts
When Benfica was unlucky to draw against PSG 1-1 in MD-3, the Portuguese club proved that the MD-2 victory over Juventus was no fluke. PSG has the home advantage in the return leg, but Benfica’s apparent hunger could make all the difference. The man of the match in my opinion was PSG goalkeeper Donnarumma who “saved” his team from defeat several times. The French club plays against 17th-place Reims in Ligue 1; Benfica hosts Rio Ave before rolling to Paris.
Juventus has a difficult tie on Saturday against a wounded AC Milan Milan before traveling on for the UCL tie. Juventus’ opponent Maccabi Haifa plays Maccabi Bnei Reineh domestically before hosting the Old Lady who may be with or without Allegri.
Juventus is bound to win again against inexperienced Haifa, so picking up a Juve player or two may be profitable. In all honesty, I cannot listen to this advice until Federico Chiesa is back in the fold.
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!).
Check out Sraxan’s Player Picks article that published on Sunday, and take all the hints and tips from Dhivakhar’s upcoming 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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