The stage is set for Villarreal, Liverpool, Man City and Real Madrid to conclude the knockout stages of this year’s UCL. Last season, attendance numbers varied from one location to anther. The season before (2019-20), the quarterfinals all took place in Portugal and each tie consisted of just a single fixture.
This season, there were only a few matches in the group stage where attendance was low due to COVID-related restrictions. Beginning in 2022, fans flocked to the stadiums like mothers reunited with long-lost children (or vice versa).
Stade de France will serve as the site of the UCL final this season after the honor was stripped from Gazprom Stadium, home to Russian club FC Zenit. The French capital of Paris will host the final on May 28.
On Monday, Unai Emery and Pau Torres took to the press in preparation for the match while Jurgen Klopp was joined by Trent Alexander-Arnold after arriving in Valencia to answer the media’s questions:
@UnaiEmery_— Villarreal CF English (@VillarrealCFen) May 2, 2022
“We need to find excellence in our play. We need to do something that no-one has done this year: beat Liverpool by more than two goals. We need to find more weaknesses than other teams have done."#UCL
If you missed it, it is worth going back to read NMA’s UCL MD-12 Preview. My fellow author and UCL expert Dhivakhar has also given us his MD-12 player picks, and Guy shared his plan for tackling the tricky upcoming MD-12.
This is just a reminder that fantasy managers are allowed three free transfers ahead of MD-12. Also, since MD-11 fantasy managers have been able to include six players from each club in their squads.
Crazy Monday - Injury/suspension updates
Here are the latest injury / suspension updates:
Liverpool are not expected to risk Firmino, his ongoing injury proving difficult to overcome. Klopp played with fire when Liverpool traveled to play Newcastle, rotating players and starting many second-stringers. His gamble paid off though, as he returned home with all three points. Rested players TAA, Thiago, Fabinho and Mo Salah should be in peak condition for the match.
The Yellow Submarines will be playing without Alberto Moreno and Yeremi Pino in the second leg. Gerard Moreno and Danjuma are doubtful.
Stones and Ake are doubtful for Manchester City after the 4-0 victory over Leeds over the weekend. Kyle Walker is not expected to start but may play a role if there are no other options for Pep. Joao Cancelo should be back in the starting XI in UCL after serving his one-match ban in the first leg.
Eder Militao and Nacho served a domestic ban in a title-winning tie this weekend, and Alaba was not risked in preparation for the return leg against Man City. Head coach Carlo also rested Benzema, Vinicius Jr, Toni Kroos and Ferland Mendy during the title-clinching victory over Espanyol. None of Real Madrid’s key players are reported injured for the most anticipated semifinal return leg.
How’s your team faring? We have three free transfers this time — do you have any questions about how you should use them? Do you have a captain candidate for each game-day? Which matches do you plan/wish to watch as a fan? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!