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UCL MD-9: Quarterfinals Fantasy Preview

How each team will approach the first leg of the quarterfinals

Thomas Tuchel - Chelsea FC - Champions League Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images

The world of football recovers after an exciting week of international action that saw some important national teams bow out of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. Crashed out are Italy from Europe plus Egypt and Algeria from Africa. The international break came to a close yesterday with the FIFA World Cup 2022 draw for its unorthodox but official kick-off in November 2022.

The run-in for major domestic leagues is set to start this weekend while midweeks are scheduled for European club cups. On March 18, the UCL brackets (and fates of the remaining eight clubs) were decided with the quarterfinal draw:

On one side we have Chelsea vs Real Madrid and Man City vs Atletico Madrid; winners will play each other in the semifinals. On the other side, the draw put Villarreal vs Bayern and Benfica vs Liverpool. Similarly, winners will face each other in the semifinals.


MD-9 is the first leg of the quarterfinals. It will be played over April 5-6, so fantasy managers will not have the luxury of four days’ captain twisting anymore.

MD-9 allows us five free transfers. After no major surprises in the round of 16, five should be more than enough unless you lucked into every injury and suspension. Also changing is the number of players we may pick from each remaining team — now five instead of four.

Atletico Madrid, Benfica and Villarreal may have impressed in the round of 16, but they became immediate underdogs as soon as they drew against Man City, Liverpool and Bayern Munich respectively.

The match between Chelsea and Real Madrid should prove the most unpopular for fantasy picks considering the tie is the most unpredictable. It goes without saying the reaching the last 8 is not an easy feat and all teams must be respected — even those that lost at home to Brentford 1-4 on the weekend.


Rotation is unlikely in this round. It is time for every head coach to bring out his best starting-XI to the field to claw his way into the semifinals. With the exception of Pep roulette (Pep Guardiola’s embarrassment of riches) or Thomas Tuchel’s formation uncertainty, which causes changes to the starting lineups, most starting lineups can be predicted with a high accuracy.


Benfica vs Liverpool

On Tuesday April 5, Liverpool will travel to Portugal to kick off the UCL quarterfinals in what could be the only “easy” match of the lot. Liverpool players started the international break after a slightly difficult 2-0 win over Arsenal. After the break, the Reds picked up where they left off by shutting out Watford by the same 2-0 score-line. Any negative result against Benfica may owe to over-thinking their next domestic match, a title-tilt at Man City. In the opposition camp, Benfica lost its domestic league match against Braga 2-3 but it hardly chipped at their points tally in third place.

Arsenal v Liverpool - Premier League - Emirates Stadium Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images


Man City vs Atletico Madrid

The blue side of Manchester qualified with ease after defeating Sporting CP 5-0 in aggregate. Atletico Madrid surely did not have enough time to miss the city of Manchester after defeating the red side 2-1 in aggregate just a few weeks ago. Starting GW-31 when Man City play against Burnley on the road, the Citizens are set for four intense matches in a span of 14 days. They play Atletico and Liverpool twice. While Atletico suffers a similarly congested schedule, opposition is lesser in quality and matches will be of less intensity against Alaves, Mallorca and Espanyol. Man City remains somewhat favorites, but Atletico can never be written off until the last whistle.

Club Brugge KV v Manchester City: Group A - UEFA Champions League Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images


Villarreal vs Bayern Munich

The yellow submarines highlighted everything that was wrong with Juventus and their overrated head coach Max Allegri in a 4-1 aggregate collapse of the Old Lady. On Wednesday April 6, Unai Emery will be at home playing a cautious game once again, calculating how to bring down the German giants when Villarreal hosts Bayern Munich. The tactician is more than capable, so the Germans will need to finish the job as early as possible. Villarreal plays Levante on the road domestically on Sunday before hosting Bayern midweek. The Bavarians play in the Sunday early slot domestically against Frieburg before the trip to Spain.

FC Bayern München v 1. FC Union Berlin - Bundesliga Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images


Chelsea vs Real Madrid

This match is the highlight of the quarterfinals, pitting title-holders Chelsea against Real Madrid, the best club in history of the competition and eliminator of the current version’s top contenders PSG. Chelsea minds may have been already too much on this match when they lost at home to Brentford 1-4 on Saturday. Will Chelsea’s confidence be dented, or will pent up energy win the day?

Real Madrid is currently on top of La Liga table with a comfortable nine point lead. They will play Celta Vigo on the road before traveling to London. This match has many uncertainties; both teams are having inconsistencies that could be magnified on a tactical level in any given encounter. In addition, pressure is on Chelsea due to buyout news and rumours covering the media pages. Both head coaches Tuchel and Ancelotti faced off previously as head coaches of Dortmund and Bayern Munich a few years ago.

Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images


My fellow UCL expert Dhivakhar posted an MD-9 RMT article that may give you some ideas for transfers and chip strategies, and Sraxan will publish MD-9 player picks tomorrow. You are welcome to post tactics chat and questions in the comments section of this article as well. And of course, I will be posting the UCL Live Chat article on Tuesday. Injuries and suspensions lists will be covered there, so be sure to check in.


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 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