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.
Today, I focus on the 4 big Champions League match ups for next week. I will also cover the second leg of the Europa League ties again tomorrow once tonight’s results are in.
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 or more before will set you up for success.
Lyon v Barcelona
A tough game for Lyon and neither the betting nor the algorithm give them much chance. But they are going to have to try to do some damage at home before travelling to Camp Nou.
They have a lot of threat recently and Fekir and Depay in particular look likely. Dembelé is also in fine form, but his baselines will be weak and he may need more than one goal unless the forward scores are really soft again.
Aouar doesn’t have huge threat in the last couple but his baselines are generally high and if he does score it could be big. Traoré is playing his way back into contention after a tough period and is capable. As is Dubois, who is a strong attacking full back who is finally getting a run in the side after injuries.
Cornet may not start but he has good goal threat recently and a good appearance from the bench may get him noticed if he scores.
In a game where I do not expect Lyon to dominate, I think we are looking for goals rather than high baselines from Lyon. Still, Fekir and Depay are matching Dembele for threat so I put them as the strongest bets.
Messi is very consistent lately although not getting monster scores. On a day with limited games that may not matter and his 170-180’s may be enough. Suarez is his usual threat.
Coutinho is playing his way back in to the team and it would not be a big surprise if he put in a performance. He has the threat and involvement in recent games.
Dembele was in great form but is coming back from injury. And Pique is always strong at the back particularly if Barcelona do dominate.
There could be some high baseline scores from Barcelona here if they control possession.
In the case of a big upset and a decisive Lyon victory… expect a strong market reaction however many will still back Barcelona to turn around a slim advantage. The assumption will generally be that Lyon aren’t going through so they may escape any significant slides beyond any buying they pick up in the build up.
Liverpool v Bayern Munich
The betting and the algorithm give Liverpool a decisive advantage but I don’t think this can be approached as anything other than a very tough match for them. They need to win and win decisively to give the market confidence they will progress.
This will be the showcase game and the media winner is almost certainly a Liverpool player.
In terms of dangerous players, it’s hard to look past the obvious 3 in Salah, Mané and Firmino for Liverpool who are all showing good form. They are not regular high baseline players but in what could be an even game it is likely to be the goals that dominate the scoring.
That could make it tough for players like Alexander-Arnold or the improving Keita to get their usual high baselines (also for Van Dijk and Wijnaldum actually). But, Alexander-Arnold has shown good threat and I would not put a good score past him.
Plenty of options for Bayern and rotation can be an issue. Lewandowski is always a threat and is in good form. In a tough game where goals are very decisive he could profit.
Gnabry and Coman have improved of late and could threaten. And Rodriguez having had a run in the side is looking as strong as ever.
Kimmich and Alcantara have real quality however I am putting them in notable rather than form because they tend to do better in soft games where they dominate possession.
To an extent, prices of both teams have probably been held back a bit because of the uncertainty caused by this tough fixture. So, a decisive advantage could lift that cloud and give a nice price bump particularly for someone like Salah. I’m going out on a limb here but if buying has been held back there may not be too much disappointment if one looks like going out either unless any over buying happens in the build up.
There may be a lot of late buying because many will not be able to resist having some involvement in a big ticket match.
Atletico Madrid v Juventus
Should be a tight game and both have very tough defences. It’s likely to be a low scoring match and may not be the best game to look for huge performance scores in especially when Manchester City may rack up a cricket score on the same day.
For Atletico, Niguez looks decent. His versatility hurts him as sometimes he is at left back, but the last 3 he has played as a winger scoring 1 goal. His threat is not huge, but he can have good baselines that make a goal count.
Griezmann will be the most likely though, as usual. He is in great scoring form with 9 goals in the last 10.
I am most interested in Morata given the rock bottom price. His start at Atletico hasn’t been bad and if he can put in a good performance people may reconsider him at just over £2 for a Spain/Atletico striker.
Godin also has goal threat particularly in tight games that can be decided by a set piece so you cannot count him out.
For Juventus, who else but Ronaldo? He’s got so many negative factors dragging his price down like age and personal issues but the Champions League knockouts is where he comes into his own. He could make a mockery of his price tag and big performances may get people interested again. It is a tricky hold though as confidence will be on thin ice.
Elsewhere, there are a lot of options but nothing that stands out. Rotation is going to be tricky here.
Khedira, just working his way back from injury, has had very good recent games and scored in the last one. As an older player many may not be interested, but, the threat is there.
Dybala will get a lot of attention. He is in really poor goal scoring form and has had some rotation. But, when playing 90 his baselines have held up, as shown vs Chievo where he scored 168 without a goal. Performances like that are why he is an FI super star when firing. If he did remind people of that in this match it would be a big deal. But… the form as I say is not great for him and he may even get benched.
Pjanic and Sandro are very reliable options but given how tight this game should be, it may not be their match.
Young talent to look out for is Bentancur and Bernadeschi, who could make an impact if they score. Neither is in fantastic form but do have the talent.
This will be a big game and if one team can take a decisive advantage it should go well for their player prices. As with Liverpool v Bayern, this is a known tough match so players looking like getting knocked out may escape a total battering provided there isn’t too much buying in the run up.
Schalke vs Manchester City
This should be an absolute walkover and that doesn’t really offer up many opportunities. City are expected to win and if they do it probably won’t change anyone’s view of their players, it’s already assumed they are in the next round. If they lose… unless it is a big loss people will probably still back them to turn it around at home.
Rotation is the minefield and picking the line up is a nightmare on a normal day and even harder in the CL. However, they should dominate and their could be some huge scores here that eclipse the Atletico v Juventus clash which is expected to be tight.
It feels like a game where Jesus will start and in his scoring form he may knock in more than one. He will likely need to though with his weak baselines. It could easily be a night for someone like Sané or Mahrez to shine.
Mahrez in particular is superb on his day and it is only the lack of regular minutes that holds him back from being a consistent challenger.
At the back, it maybe a run out for Otamendi but I would expect any starting City CB to be scoring fairly strongly here as they should see plenty of the ball during build up play.
Danilo also looks very strong lately.
For Schalke, if you like an underdog and losing money nobody is in sparkling form but Caligiuri is capable of posting big scores often. You’d likely be betting on Schalke getting a penalty for him though.
If you find this post useful, please like the post on Twitter or share using the below buttons. You can also follow me on Twitter at @_FI_trader for additional daily thoughts and tips!