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 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.
With 32 teams still in the Europa League I am going to cover all of the key games but not every single one like for the Champions League. With all matches being played on the same day, there will not be such a red hot focus on individual games for media purposes etc.
However, the market will still be sensitive to any decisive results – if your playing books his place in the next round, or looks like heading out, it is likely to effect the price, particularly if the player is highly owned.
Europa League ties are a great source of dividends and worth just as much as the Champions League payouts. The Europa doesn’t bring the media attention in quite the same way as the Champions League does, but that can change if Arsenal or Chelsea get to the business end.
Remember to check team news on the below players before the matches due to rotation etc.
BATE v Arsenal
As close to a walkover as you are going to get. Arsenal scores should be high across the board in this game provided they dominate which I expect them to.
The difficulty here is rotation. Arsenal have rotated heavily throughout the Europa League but in the knock out stage away they may now be more cautious.
If they do rotate, Baka, Smith-Rowe and Maitland-Niles are all notable youngsters who have seen significant pitch time in the competition. Although Smith-Rowe bagged 2 goals to Saka’s 0, there isn’t much between them in the stats overall per 90 minutes. Saka has just had fewer minutes.
If they go full strength, Lacazette would be the standout option. He is superior to Aubameyang for goal threat and involvement in recent games.
You can’t discount a screamer for Xhaka or a great showing from Ramsey (or even Ozil) either.
Overall this should be routine. Even in the event of a draw or narrow loss people will probably still back them to turn it around at home.
Lazio v Sevilla
Immobile is looking strong with 4 goals in 5. 3 of those came in the cup, and the 2 were in games Lazio drew or lost so it didn’t do his performance scores many favours. But this is why you can’t rely on performance scores because it doesn’t give you the full picture. He looks sharp.
As do Correa and Alberto. Alberto’s stats in particular are superb and I think the market significantly undervalues both of them.
Tough season for Milinkovic-Savic but I think he has real quality and he has improved of late with 2 goals in 5.
Ben Yedder and Silva are both high threat low baseline strikers who can be solid goals dividend punts. But they will need 2+ goals to win and this will be a tough game.
Promes I have high hopes for and after a period of adaptation he is finally showing some of the superb ability that he showed in Russia. He could be a real cut price gem and I’m watching him closely.
Banega can never be counted out. Decent threat even without penalties. It’s a tough away game though and it may be difficult for him to get the possession he needs.
Wober, a high possession full back, could figure if the scores are soft. And Sarabia is quality although despite his two recent goals his stats are not brilliant recently.
It’s a tough game so a decisive advantage for either team could see big market swings.
Rennes v Real Betis
Niang gets limited minutes but he has put away 2 goals recently. He’s a low base line long shot but with an expected goals per 90 mins of 0.9 he has to have a mention.
Canales is the pick of the bunch. He was highlighted on the members dashboard before his win last Sunday for a reason. May need a penalty but he has threat without them too. However, tough away game could reduce his good baseline if Betis possession is low.
Other notables are Sarr and Bourigeaud for Rennes. Both capable of winning on a good day and indeed could be good future prospects for moves to big teams.
For Betis, Lo Celso has had limited minutes recently but predicted line ups have him down to start. If so, he could be a strong challenger. He’s a player of real quality who should surely be moving to a bigger club before long.
The high baseline defensive trio of Mandi, Feddal and Bartra may figure, but in a tough away game they will do well to get on the ball enough. Bartra may be injured.
Celtic v Valencia
Weah should get some attention and is in good scoring form. His baselines are usually atrocious though so he will need 2 goals or more.
Burke, Tierney and Benkovic for Celtic are highly rated and worth watching as future talents.
Parejo is a performance God and one of the most under rated players on the market. If Valencia dominate he should do well but if it is a tight game he may struggle on this one.
Guedes is worth watching although may not return from a serious injury in time. But he is getting close. Left back Gaya is highly rated and another worthy of monitoring.
FC Zurich v Napoli
This could be a cricket score and the real worry is rotation. If Napoli dominate as predicted scores could be high across the board. There are also a lot of strong candidates to pick from.
I’d be keen on Insigne or Verdi (if Verdi plays). A goal for Ruiz or Zielinski would do big things. Mertens, Koulibaly and Albiol are consistent high performers.
And it will be interesting to see if Ounas gets a start, he is an up and coming youngster who is well worth watching and he is starting to get some minutes.
Zurich really don’t have much to shout about. Odey has scored 3 in 5 and is the most dangerous.
Sporting v Villareal
Bruno Fernandes is the man to watch here. In an eligible league for a big team he has huge potential, and he has attracted rumours in recent transfer windows. Perhaps one for the Summer.
Dost is not quite as marketable but he is the form man, with 3 goals in 5. His baseline will be awful so perhaps more one for a goal dividend punt for those inclined.
For Villareal, Ekambi is the most threatening but he would have to do a lot to get a big score. A goal for Cazorla should put him up there though and he has a bit of threat recently.
Fornals is quality and could challenge but his recent form has not been brilliant. Youngster Chukwueze should get a lot of attention and he’s doing fairly well recently. A big score would be a surprise but it’s not impossible.
Malmo FF v Chelsea
This should be a crushing win for Chelsea and the scores for those playing should be generally high. That’s the issue – working out who will start in a game that should see substantial rotation.
If any of Hazard, Willian or Higuain start they should be strong contenders, but it seems unlikely unless Sarri is very cautious. He has tended to rest them and let Loftus Cheek, Giroud and Barkley play. There may also be a run out for Hudson-Odoi which will get a lot of attention. In a soft game, he couldn’t have a better chance to show some quality.
FC Krasnodar v Bayer
Could be a tough away match for Leverkusen. But they have some in form players to help them through it and Havertz and Brandt look the most likely. Volland dangerous for those looking for goals dividends. Bailey has looked good recently too. Paulinho is a great prospect.
Galatasaray v Benfica
Tough away game for Benfica and it could go either way.
Joao Felix will be the focus and if he can add another to his 2 in the last 5 it will be big for holders. His threat has been decent but not huge and this is a tough game. But it is possible. Seferovic or Pizzi are the more likely goal source but they aren’t as marketable.
Also of note to watch for at Benfica are Grimaldo and Gedson Fernandes (if he gets a run out).
Grimaldo is highly rated and will have big clubs circling for him soon. He’s quite interesting and seems to have a habit of scoring from full back from pretty low quality chances.
Rapid Vienna v Inter Milan
This is probably the most one sided tie of the Round of 32. There are a lot of notable names but it’s really hard to pick someone who is genuinely in form and differentiating themselves.
With a match this soft we could also see rotation.
Big baseline players could stand up here if Inter dominate as expected. I’m looking at you Brozovic and possibly Skriniar.
Martinez has been doing better. Icardi has been off the boil by his high standards, particularly in the league. Although he has scored in the cups recently.
Both Politano and Keita are doing ok lately but need more goal threat.
Shakhtar vs Eintracht
Tough away game for Eintracht.
Rebic, Haller and Jovic are all in good scoring form. All 3 will generally need at least 2 goals to figure and that looks tough here. Jovic is being played at AMC recently as noted on the Dash so that is worth watching too to see if it increases his baselines.
Ismaily and Taison for Shakhtar will not be popular picks but both are in form and capable of spoiling the party with a big score.