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.

Europa League

For the second leg I will review the predicted key performers from before the first leg to see how they got on. And then I look at the actual match to see if anyone should be added/dropped on the Form/Notable list. 

We’ll also look at the to qualify betting odds and the match only win probabilities from the SPI algorithm. 

And I will assess the market volatility surrounding each game. It’s particularly important to keep an eye on all final knockout games no matter how “nailed on” a team is to qualify. The bigger the assumption, the bigger the reaction will be if the expectation is not met.

21st February

Arsenal v BATE

Form Players

Notable Players


Oh dear Arsenal. Like everyone I expected them to walkover BATE and they had a shocker. Still, it will not effect much because many will still expect them to overturn the result at home and they really should. 

Whether this result gives you confidence in them for the rest of the competition is another matter.

Lacazette looked the best bet to me before the match but he was poor and was sent off and now banned for the second leg. Instead, Iwobi was actually the most likely with 4 shots and decent involvement. He is added to Form players for the next game. Kolasinac was also very threatening, again with 4 shots. 

In the middle, Xhaka and Guendouzi dominated possession but never looked like scoring. A goal for either of them in the second leg though could see a monster score.

Despite the awful result and bad feeling, it is overwhelmingly likely that Arsenal will come through at the Emirates, possibly with a big score, and will likely still get a very winnable game in the Round of 16. So I am not too down on their chances. 

If they fail though sentiment on Arsenal assets will dip very low so do watch the game if you are holding their players.

Sevilla v Lazio

Form Players

Notable Players


I was actually a bit surprised Lazio did not put up more of a fight in the first leg. They did have a couple of key absences in Immobile and Milinkovic-Savic. 

Only really Correa comes out of the game with much credit in my eyes but threat was weak across the board. Looks a tough ask for them to qualify now. Immobile could be back in time but Milinkovic does not look likely.

I highlighted Ben Yedder and Silva as the key threats for Sevilla before the game. Yedder got the goal but Silva had the most threat with 4 efforts to Yedder’s 1. So that could reverse in the second leg. 

I was disappointed to see Promes dropped to the bench, and hope to see him play the second leg because he has been improving. 

Banega got the dividend win. I had thought he might do ok but given he was Away I felt Lazio would not let him dominate quite so much, to be honest. But they let him do his thing and with Barkley getting undone by the Game Winning Goal as mentioned on the Daily, big baseline Banega was there to clean up. He could well do it again, it’s more likely at home. 

Sarabia had a decent game too and looks a good shout for the second leg too. 

The market will be expecting Sevilla to qualify comfortably although the advantage is actually quite slender and if you have assets involved it is one to watch closely because a turn around could have a sizable impact on prices. 

Real Betis v Rennes

Form Players

Notable Players


I picked out Canales as the star man before the game and he was excellent and unlucky not to be rewarded. Huge involvement and threat and I back him again in the second leg. He outscored every other attacking player even without a goal.

Lo Celso did score and was strong as he so often is. But an average level of involvement by his high standards. If he had won the game and his goal had been matchwinning, he would have been up there though.  Again, looks good for the second leg. 

As do the entire Betis backline most notably Mandi or Bartra if he returns from injury in time (date unknown).

Only really Niang, Arfa and Honou had much threat for Rennes. Honou is a new addition to FI that was highlighted in the IPO article this week as a good in form goal threat punt, and he did score. As I expected though, it didn’t do his scores much good and I knew they would be dire from his stats. 

Bourigeaud, if he starts the second leg for Rennes, will also be a contender.

Betis assets are rightly popular because of their very FI friendly style of play for a smaller club. An upset would hurt their prices but the expectation is that they should comfortably qualify. But again, the advantage is slender and it should be watched carefully.

Valencia v Celtic

Form Players

Notable Players


Celtic dominated possession but were well beaten anyway.

This made it tough for big baseline players like Parejo to excel, and it was a weak performance by his high standards for that reason. 

Neither of the scorers, Cheryshev and Sobrino were big on my threat list, either. Sobrino hasn’t started in a while. Rodrigo looked their main threat to me but was out injured. 

Soler had a good game and shows some promise, he is worth watching as a young up and coming midfielder. 

At home, Parejo has a much better shot of scoring big next time as Valencia should have more possession. 

Nobody looked good from Celtic. I can only really mention Weah as someone who might get attention with a big performance in the second leg. 

Valencia’s passage to the next round looks almost assured and it would be a freak result if this turned around. I know I have said this already but when you have a “sure bet” like this you still need to pay attention because if anything happens to smash that sure thing you can expect a big reaction. 

Napoli v Zurich

Form Players

Notable Players


This was really frustrating because I had earmarked Insigne as the man for this one and he was very unlucky. He was cruising towards Star Player before getting subbed off on 68 minutes. And he got what would have been the matchwinner without the late penalty to Zurich. 

It’s a reminder of his quality but no reward this time. Likewise, Ruiz and Zielinski, two strong players from my £2-4 articles showed their class and were considered to have very good games. 

Ruiz had a great baseline as always but as has been the case recently his threat isn’t strong enough. He is hitting weak shots from range and they don’t go in often enough. Someone please put him on a pitch with a net full of balls and tell him he isn’t going home until he’s scored 100. 

Zielinski had a stand out performance on the pitch if not particularly on FI. His baseline was not brilliant compared to what he is capable of, but he did score with a lovely composed finish to break a long goal drought which is encouraging. That had been coming and the quality of chance he gets is better than Ruiz.

Milik had chances but did not convert, on another day he could have done well. 

The betting odds on this are a joke and technically the bookies think there is an absolute zero chance of Napoli not going through. 

High baseline players like Koulibaly, Ruiz, Insigne and Zielinski may profit in what should be a stroll around the park at home. Unless they think the job is done and rotate.

Villareal v Sporting

Form Players

Notable Players


Bruno Fernandes was my pick here and though he was involved in nearly everything for Sporting (97 touches!) his threat was limited yesterday to just 1 effort. Cabral actually looked the most dangerous although his involvement was weak. 

I’d still back Fernandes as the most likely Lisbon player in the second leg. 

Fornals and Chukwueze were the ones to watch for Villareal but were very subdued. They may do better at home where Villareal should be able to dominate more. 

Looks a tough ask now for Sporting vs the away goal but not impossible. I’m not sure anyone expects either team to go very far so the impact may be minimal anyway. 

Chelsea v Malmo

Form Players

Notable Players


I’d have thought victory would have been more emphatic for Chelsea. 

They have probably done enough to get through comfortably but should have won by more. The side was heavily rotated as predicted. 

Whenever Chelsea are dominating you can often rely on Barkley to get a strong score and it was disappointing he was robbed by the late sloppy goal conceded. Loftus-Cheek is the same and if he gets a chance in the home leg he could be worth watching too. 

There was howls of anguish as well for Hudson-Odoi supporters as he was restricted to just a substitute cameo. It’s no wonder young players get fed up at Chelsea. 

Giroud was very dangerous with 7 efforts scoring 1. Could have had a hat trick and at home you’d have to back him to do well and he is likely to start. 

Almost a zero chance Chelsea don’t make it through from here but again, the bigger the markets assumption the more dangerous it can be. 

Bayer v Krasnodar

Form Players

Notable Players


No fireworks from Leverkusen this time but they did dominate the game and had a ton of threat. Overall, it’s not a bad result and I think they will be happy to settle this in the home leg. 

Although it hasn’t come through in the performance scores, this is another strong example of how performance friendly Leverkusen are becoming. 

Bellarabi looks in particularly fine form and hit 6 shots whilst matching the best of them for overall involvement. Brandt and Havertz were also very strong, with Bailey a bit behind but still looking good. 

They look the most likely to pull out a big score in the second leg. Volland will also be a likely goal scorer although his baselines are significantly weaker than the others mentioned.

Benfica v Galatasaray

Form Players

Notable Players


Great result for Benfica in what was a tough away game.

All eyes were on Joao Felix who is the current hot property on FI. He didn’t deliver. But he wasn’t bad either. 3 shots and only Seferovic had more. Seferovic I mentioned as their in form striker and he did get the match winner although only ended up with a 150 or so score. 

Pizzi and Grimaldo looked good options before the game but did not travel and the explanation seems to be that they were rested. Seems odd to me to rest big players for a key game but there we are. If they are back in the home leg, they will be worth watching. 

Looks nailed on for Benfica progress. Felix owners will be hoping for a better showing at home where he can see more of the ball.

Inter Milan v Rapid Vienna

Form Players

Notable Players


With Icardi’s strop, a big opportunity opened up for Martinez. He did dispatch the game winning penalty but for me it does show why he can struggle as a performance player. 

With just 11 passes made in a game where Inter dominated possession we would need him to be getting 2 goals including a match winner to be challenging, and that’s a high bar.

In the second leg we can expect some high baselines so with Brozovic now back I’d be looking at him.

If Icardi decides he is willing to play again it could be one for him to fill his boots because he should get a lot of chances.

Eintracht v Shakhtar

Form Players

Notable Players


Shakhtar away is a tough game and to come away with 2-2 is not a bad result at all.

Jovic had 6 efforts from in or very near the area and encouragingly he showed some decent involvement as well. As we have been tracking on the Dashboard he is taking more of an AMC role and that actually bodes really well for him. In early days, he looked more of a low baseline striker but he might be a bit better than that. I like it. 

I probably could have given Kostic a bit more respect pre-match but to be fair this is his first goal in 7 games. He had a very good game though and had his goal been the matchwinner he would have pushed over a 200 score easily. Worth monitoring him in the coming games. 

Haller did not start but should be a threat if starting the home leg, though he probably will need 2 to score highly.

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