Members: Champions and Europa League Previews

This series will focus on in depth previews of the knock out rounds of the Champions and Europa Leagues. I’ll be running this all season ahead of each round from here until the Finals!

As we get to the sudden death end of the Tournament, prices can be very volatile. Progression in the competition can do wonders for a share price, and elimination can be brutal particularly for very expensive players. 

I’ll be assessing the win probabilities, the in and out of form players and any other players likely to catch the attention of the market. Then, I will analyse each game and put it into context – how big will market reactions be to certain outcomes? Who is at risk of a big drop? Who could rocket in price? 

Today, I focus on the 4 big Champions League match ups for next week, Roma v Porto, Man Utd v PSG, Tottenham vs Dortmund and finally Ajax vs Real Madrid. I will also cover the important Europa League games for next week and that section will be available before the weekend. 

Now the members area is well up and running, I will try to do this ahead of time because I find that buying as early as possible is the best way to profit from big European nights. The hype before the game is near guaranteed and you can sell to those who choose to buy late on the day for a profit before a ball is kicked if you want.

There is good reason to do this because as I will discuss below, there are huge winner takes all risks involved in knock out football. 

Sometimes I stick in and see the game through if I am feeling confident. But buying at least a week and sometimes even a month before will set you up for success. 

Let’s get this series started!

Champions League

12th February: Manchester United vs PSG

Betting Odds: Man Utd 2.66 Draw 3.72 PSG 2.65

SPI Win Probability*: Man Utd 24% Draw 21% PSG 55%

*Click here for more info on what the SPI Win Probability is – I do not take it too literally but it does offer a useful guide. 

Key Players

Manchester United

In form: Pogba, Rashford, Martial, Shaw
Notable: Matic, Lindelof, 


In form: Cavani, Mbappé, Di Maria, 
Notable: Draxler, Marquinhos, Alves

Market and Player Assessment

I actually agree with the betting odds much more than the SPI algorithm here. The software does account for an upturn in recent form, but I think it is being too slow to adjust given Man Utd’s rapid turn around. I believe this is going to be a tough, 50/50 game.

This means that player values are going to be volatile, and we have some expensive assets in the mix here. Particularly if a player relies heavily on big media returns for their price, you need a strong CL run to sustain confidence.  

However, people have known about this tough fixture for a while and logically, that should have suppressed values of both teams. That is probably true to an extent but I think the recent mania for Manchester United players might have papered that over.

There will be lots of people in wait and see mode, though. If either club carves out a decisive advantage to take to Paris, it will have a big impact and we will see large increases for winners and big dips for losers. A draw or slim margin will obviously favour PSG assets.

The media buzz winner will almost certainly come from this game. But there are plenty of performance prospects too particularly if one side dominates the game. 

For Utd you can’t look past Pogba, he is showing some of the best stats on the Index at the moment and a goal for him will likely do big things. Martial has had chances but not put them away, if he does get a goal he could figure. As could the in form Rashford but he will likely need to turn it on with 2 or 3 goals to get a big score. 

Shaw, Matic and Lindelof all could have the baselines to win if it is a soft day. Lindelof has also shown a bit of goal threat recently too.

For PSG, goals for Di Maria or Draxler would be big. They don’t have quite the threat of Mbappe and Cavani but a goal is more meaningful because their baselines should be significantly higher. Marquinhos  and Alves (if playing) should have high baselines too. 

If it is an even game with near 50/50 possession, baselines will come down and it will help low baseline players like Mbappe and Rashford.

12th February: Roma v Porto

Betting Odds: Roma 2.16 Draw 3.5 Porto 3.72 

SPI Win Probability*: Roma 46% Draw 25% Porto 29%

Key Players


In form: Dzeko, Zaniolo, Under (if playing), Kolarov,
Notable: Kluivert, Cristante


In form: Soares, Brahimi, Torres, Herrera, 
Notable: Alex Telles,

Market and Player Assessment

Much of the attention is going to be focused on the PSG – Manchester United clash happening at the same time. Whilst that will almost certainly take the media dividend, do not discount a winning performance score from this game. Both teams have strong attacks and decent but not indestructible defences. 

However, there will not be much optimism that either club will get much further once they make it through. So I think any big buying might rely on a big performance from a youngster who people see as a future prospect beyond the CL run. In the case of Porto, they will also have to be seen to be getting a transfer to a suitable club in the Summer.

On form, I think Dzeko, Kolarov, Zanilo, Under (if playing), and Soares from Porto have the best chance of making an impact. 

But as I say I think any bet we make on this game is about seeing a Roma youngster put in a big performance. Under looks tempting because he has both form, hype factor and good performance suitability. But Zaniolo, Kluivert or Cristante could also fit the bill. 

If Porto spoil the party, the form says it will be Soares to do it. 5 goals in 5 and he looks deadly. His baselines should be poor, though. 

13th February: Tottenham vs Dortmund

Betting Odds: Tottenham 2.34 Draw 3.7 Dortmund 3.15 

SPI Win Probability: Tottenham 55% Draw 23% Dortmund 22%

Key Players


In form: Son, Llorente, Eriksen, Winks, 
Notable: Moura, Lamela, Vertonghen, Trippier, 


In form: Reus, Alcacer, Guerriero, Witsel, Hakimi, 
Notable: Sancho, Zagadou, Diallo, Akanji, Pulisic, 

Market and Player Assessment

Again I am not sure the algorithm has this one quite right, I think Spurs are the favourites but not comfortably, the betting odds feel better. It’s a tough match up that Spurs need to win. 

A bit like with Manchester United and PSG, a decisive result will have major market impact if it looks like one side will make it through.

For Spurs, Son and Eriksen look the most likely to me from the stats. Winks has the baselines to win on a soft day without a goal, though does have a bit of threat too. Moura and Lamela are up and down but can clinch it on their day if playing. I can see a big score for a full back, Trippier perhaps, or if Vertonghen was known to be starting at full back I’d be confident in him.

With Dortmund, rotation is always an issue. Reus is looking dangerous with 3 goals in 5 from 12 shots. Alcacer may be a sub as usual but his threat is still big and we know he can be explosive. Guerriero, Witsel and Hakimi are all high baseliners who could challenge, particularly if they do score.  

And then we have to mention Sancho, who could take the media buzz. The form stats are not kind to him though. He is way down the list when looking for dangerous Dortmund players in the last 5 games, and even his baseline stats are weak. If he pops up with a big performance or a goal there will be hysteria, but it would need a big gear shift from recent games.

Zagadou, Diallo, Akanji all deserve a mention just for being good high baseline players, but rotation can be a problem.

Finally, although his minutes have been limited, a big cameo for Pulisic could bring him significant attention  given his summer move to Chelsea. 

13th February: Ajax v Real Madrid

Betting Odds: Ajax 3.7 Draw 4.1 Real Madrid 2

SPI Win Probability: Ajax 45% Draw 20% Real Madrid 35%

Key Players


In form: Huntelaar(not on FI), Tadic, Ziyech, Dolberg, De Jong, Blind, 

Real Madrid

In form: Vinicius, Benzema, Kroos, Modric, Ramos, Ceballos
Notable: Marcelo, Carvajal, Bale, 

Market and Player Assessment

I think many might expect this to be a relative walkover for Madrid but I am not so sure given their questionable form this season.

The betting odds go against Ajax but this is one where I think the algorithm might be correct to hint that this will be no pushover.

Ajax players are not widely owned and Madrid are expected to win this comfortably so market movements might be relatively modest before the game. Prices will likely assume Madrid will win. In the event of an upset though, it will be massive so we need to watch for that. 

This is an opportunity to showcase some of the big talent at Ajax that may move in the Summer though and there could be big buying action, particular for the superb Ziyech who I have high hopes for. Equally De Jong could get some limelight, as could the lesser known Dolberg who is a low baseline but high threat young striker. 

For Madrid, Vinicius is looking good as is Benzema. For high baselines I am looking to Kroos and Modric. Modric has the better threat. If Kroos wants to win he will have to do it the hard way through overall contribution because his recent threat is dire. But he can do that, if Madrid dominate the game his distribution could be top class. 

Marcelo is largely included for old times sake, he is doing nothing in the stats lately but we know he has quality. Carvajal is doing a bit better with a few shots although he is not in red hot form.

Next Up Before the Weekend: Selected Europa League Fixtures

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