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!
Tips for European Competition:
- Look at least a week ahead when preparing for games. You may get a little bump as late or on the day buyers follow you in. Avoid on the day buying whenever possible because if buying after a rise you may get dumped on.
- Particularly from the Quarter Finals onward, there will be plenty of excitement for treble days. This can be an ideal moment to offload unwanted performance players at a premium, either in the build up to the game, or if they score. I frequently do this as I transition from my mid-season portfolio to my Summer portfolio.
- Be aware of teams that are considered “nailed on” to win or progress. A shock defeat can send prices crashing. If you have big involvement in knock out games, you need to watch them much more closely than a normal league game.
Eintracht v Inter
Tough match. Could go either way and although the winning side may get a boost in the market, nobody should be too disappointed if one team looks like going out.
For Eintracht, Jovic is the clear favourite for performance chances. A good performance and a match winner could see him up in the 190 scores. Haller and Rebic are capable, but typically need a couple of goals to challenge. They may be better as goal dividends punts for those interested. Kostic could be a cheap punt long shot option, he is capable of a decent score on his day but his goal threat does not match Jovic or Haller.
Tough to pick any stand out players from Inter, nobody is in red hot form. Icardi of course can put in a big show but it all depends whether he wants to play. If not, Martinez will fill in but he has not been brilliant and although he may score I would not back him to trouble the dividend spots.
A good performance from Politano if he starts could get him some attention. And Brozovic can always post a big score without a goal but away from home in what should be an even game this may not be the match for him.
Dinamo Zagreb v Benfica
Tricky away game for Benfica but I think most will expect them to progress comfortably if they can get at least a draw here. If they get thumped then it might hurt Felix temporarily although a European tilt is not really the reason people are holding him.
This will be the Joao Felix show and he is in red hot form. A goal in Europe could get people over excited again particularly if it leads to a big score which it could.
Rafa Silva who is not on FI unless he is under an obscure name I don’t recognise might be worth watching as a future IPO. Pizzi is also in good form and could do well with a goal. Veteran striker Seferovic looks likely for a goal but not a big performance score.
Zenit v Villareal
Even-ish game but I am not sure anyone has any huge expectations for either to go for in the competition so there should not be a huge market impact.
Best hope is for a breakout from Chukwueze who is potentially performance suitable and will get a lot of attention if he does well (provided he starts). Cazorla as we all know could be a factor. And Fornals has quality but is a little out of form.
Rennes v Arsenal
Should be a comfortable win for Arsenal (where have I said that before?) and all they really need is a draw for the market to assume they are through. However, if they get beaten heavily it could hurt prices as people will be expecting Arsenal to do well in the competition.
I’m expecting Arsenal to put out full strength sides so players like Maitland-Niles may not get the starts they have had previously.
Aubameyang will be the biggest threat (Lacazette is banned) but neither are hugely performance suitable in general. Mkhitaryan would be my pick and he is looking in very good form. With a matchwinner he would be well placed to challenge. 2 goals and 2 assists in the last two for him. At the back, Koscielny looks dangerous and has scored 3 since late January (check his fitness, could be injured).
Guendouzi and Xhaka can post big baselines and you can never rule out Xhaka in particular if he finds the net with one of his screamers.
For Rennes, Ben Arfa will be best placed for a big score if he gets a goal. Niang and Sarr can score but it won’t neccessarily result in a dividend challenge. And Bourigeaud is a high baseline player so if he scores he should challenge but his threat recently is weak.
Sevilla v Slavia Prague
The first real walkover of the round and Sevilla should cruise this. Even if they lose, people will still probably expect them to turn it around unless the defeat is heavy.
This is the sort of game where Banega can shine as Sevilla dominate possession so he looks good for this.
Silva and Ben Yedder look the best source of goals as usual, but it doesn’t really help them much in the performance scoring and they are better goals dividend punts. Sarabia has better chances and he is showing some decent form.
I also like to monitor Promes as I think he has a lot of potential. He seems to be settling in at Sevilla more and more.
Chelsea v Dynamo Kiev
Chelsea have tended to rotate for the Europa but perhaps as we get deeper into the competition they will firm things up. They are expected to walk this game though so I suspect they will rotate again. Beware the shock elimination but it’s very unlikely.
Barkley is my favourite. He was unlucky to miss out on the win last time due to a sloppy goal Chelsea conceded late robbing him of the matchwinner. This is the sort of game he will see plenty of the ball and be able to get forward. If he starts, of course.
Eyes as usual will be on Hudson-Odoi to see if he starts and how he plays. And Loftus-Cheek is also performance suitable if he starts.
I added Dynamo’s Tsygangov to the player ratings this week. He’s a highly rated 21 year old winger and if he gets summer speculation it may not be the last time we hear the name. This is going to be a tough game to prove it though but it is worth watching him.
Valencia v Krasnodar
Another probable walkover and Valencia will be expected to win comfortably. People may remember Krasnodar dumping out Leverkusen so Valencia holders will want them to settle the nerves.
This looks good for Parejo’s baseline as he should be able to dominate. If he gets the goal via penalty or otherwise he should be up there competing.
Santi Mina, Guedes and Moreno should be a threat but nobody seems in sparkling form.
Napoli v RB Salzburg
This should be a comfortable victory for Napoli. There are big expectations of them progressing though so they will need to take a comfortable league into the away leg to reassure the market. Without that people could be jumpy.
A ton of great targets to pick from and picking the right one is the difficulty. Insigne was another unlucky not to win last time and he would be my pick again. Milik is in form but without at least 2 goals he will not figure.
Verdi is making his way back from injury and is a seriously undervalued quality player, but he may be more for next season than this one. Ounas is showing quality for a young player. And Zielinski and Ruiz are both getting close recently with 150’s and 170’s but not quite adding the bit extra to win. They are capable, though.
Whilst it will be a tough game for Salzburg and I do not expect heroics, Dabbur and Schlager are both worth watching and were added to the player ratings as strong players from ineligible leagues. Remember the names in case they get transfer links.
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