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!

New readers may want to check the archive for the original articles for the background and general thoughts on profiting from European games. 

The important thing to consider in the decisive second leg is who is going to be volatile and will get large drops or rises depending on the result. We need to start with who the market has assumed will qualify and who is already mentally knocked out. 

Assumed to Qualify:

Tottenham, Real Madrid, PSG, Atletico, Barcelona, Manchester City

Assumed knocked out: 

Dortmund, Ajax, Manchester United, Juventus, Schalke, Lyon,

In the balance: 

Porto v Roma, Bayern v Liverpool. 

These are only expectations. And they will already be weighing heavily on the prices. Those assumed to qualify will have inflated prices. Knocked out teams weak prices. And in the balance teams somewhere in between but bordering on knocked down prices due to the uncertainty. 

So the big reactions will generally only come where those expectations are shattered. Don’t be expecting big rises when Manchester City qualify for example.

Juventus to me are the obvious example here who could flip expectations on their heads, and perhaps Manchester United or Lyon too. All 3 have a mountain to climb but it would not be completely crazy if one were to win. If they did, prices would rise, particularly for teams that people see going far like Juventus. 

Some traders may want to punt on this, particularly as Juventus players are now at knock down prices. Others (like me) will want to ensure they aren’t carrying players that might take a beating in the event of a bad result.

I also often use the hype/expectation ahead of a big game to offload unwanted players at high prices. Although this is best done from quarter finals onwards. 

We also have the draw to think about which can have as big an impact on prices as the games themselves. That’s the 15 March. Tough draws will knock down prices and favourable ones can see them rise significantly.

Champions League

5 March: Dortmund v Tottenham

First Leg Result: Tottenham 3 – 0 Dortmund 

Betting Odds TO QUALIFY: Tottenham 1.06 Dortmund 11

SPI Win Probability MATCH ONLY: Dortmund 41% Draw 25% Tottenham 34%

Key Players


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


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

Market and Player Assessment

Tottenham are all but through and it would take a lot to turn this around. I am not sure many expect them to go far in the tournament though, and they may not get a huge bump for qualifying. 

Kane might get some buying action with a big performance, given he is back from injury and could start. Alli likewise.

Dortmund are dead and buried and for that reason if they do turn it around they will get significant buying. Sancho for the hype. But they have a lot of talent including the dangerous looking Guerreiro (highlighted last time and won this week). 

5 March: Real Madrid v Ajax

First Leg Result: Ajax 1 – 2 Real Madrid

Betting Odds TO QUALIFY: Real Madrid 1.11 Ajax 9

SPI Win Probability MATCH ONLY:  Real Madrid 50% Draw 20% Ajax 30%

Key Players

Real Madrid 

In form: ViniciusBenzema, Kroos, Modric, Ceballos
Notable: Marcelo, Carvajal, Bale, Asensio


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

Market and Player Assessment

Like the first game, I don’t think this will be as big a walkover as some predict however 2 goals away from Ajax is a big ask. 

But Real are not the team they were and an upset would not be totally out of the question. 

Ajax have some talent and Ziyech is the one to watch here. I will be doing an ineligible league talent article soon and he will be up there.

Real will be assumed to win but I doubt they will get much credit for it. They are not expected to win it this year and that will weigh on the price. They might take a kicking if they crash out to Ajax though. Fairly high risk low reward. 

Ramos is banned, by the way. 

6th March: PSG v Manchester United

First Leg Result: Manchester United 0 – 2 PSG

Betting Odds TO QUALIFY: PSG 1.03 Man. Utd 19

SPI Win Probability MATCH ONLY:  PSG 71% Draw 17% Man. United 12%

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

Very few seem to be backing Manchester United to turn this around.

Will this hit United players hard? Probably not. It’s already assumed. Normally someone like Pogba would be up for a kicking but confidence in him beyond the CL is so high he may escape the worst of it.

I would expect anyone who wants out of the likes of Martial and Rashford for CL reasons is probably already out. After the bloodbath when they lost 2-0, you would think most of the damage is already done. 

If a miracle happens though, you can expect prices to fly. 

PSG values will likely not change much unless expectations are shattered and they crash out.  It would be a bloodbath if so.

6th March: Porto v Roma

First Leg Result: Roma 2 – 1 Porto

Betting Odds TO QUALIFY: Roma 1.57 Porto 2.57

SPI Win Probability MATCH ONLY: Porto 50% Draw 24% Roma 25%

Key Players


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


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

Market and Player Assessment

The bookies strongly favour Roma but I agree with the algorithm here. I think this is a tough match for Roma away with the away goal against them.

There aren’t many Porto assets that are popular although both Brahimi (may be injured, check before the game) and Herrera have some transfer interest into the EPL and are capable of strong performances in the scoring system. 

As I said in the last preview, I thought the best chance of a big price rise was a big performance from a Roma youngster and last time out it was Zaniolo. But it could equally be Under, Kluivert or Cristante on the day. 

Although this game is in the balance, I do not think there will be wild buying in expectation of a CL run. They will be expected to go out in the quarters. So again, I think what we are looking for is a big performance from a player that catches the attention of the market. 

With Zaniolo heavily bought already, I think we are looking elsewhere for that. If Under starts he would be the one most likely to catch fire with a big performance. He may not recover from injury in time, though. 

Kluivert would be another candidate, but his threat has been significantly weaker so I would not count on it. 

Next Week: 12/13th March CL Matches

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