From the Quarter Finals on, there are some big dividend wins available as they are treble days but there are only 2 matches being played. And there are no cheeky league matches on the same day to compete for the dividends this time.
This can be where the big names really start justifying their price tags particularly if they make it all the way to the final where they would have 5 weakly contested treble days ahead.
And, if a big name player scores the winner, or more than one goal, they have a good chance of taking home the media as well as the performance dividend.
With the dividends now increased, you can see how this is going to create excitement in the build up. Add to that, when there is so much attention on just one or two huge games, a lot of traders just think “what the hell, I want to play” and it overrides usual sound judgement.
So, we could see big name CL players (even without Summer involvement) bucking the overriding trends because the Champions League buying trend will compete with it.
You can either get involved with this (if you want to, do your buying ASAP, don’t wait and FOMO in the week of the game). Or, as I often do, use the hype for these big days to offload any unwanted players at a good price.
If the price rise is big enough and I want rid of the player in the coming weeks anyway, then screw the dividend, I’ll bank the win before they go all Salah on me and crock themselves in the middle of the game.
The performance calculation also changes when there is so little competition. A player can easily win by scoring 150 rather than 200. So that brings high threat low baseline forwards in particular into play.
For forwards, the most important factor becomes almost entirely about who is going to score the most goals. Much more simple.
For the midfielders and defenders, goal threat is still important but particularly if a team is expected to dominate possession, a high baseline player (like a ball playing defender, or low threat creative midfielder) can walk the win provided none of the defenders or midfielders score.
Champions League QF 1st Leg
9th April - Liverpool v Porto
Betting Odds: Liverpool 1.33 Draw 5.65 Porto 10.8
SPI Win Probability: Liverpool 73% Draw 19% Porto 8%
In form: Mané, Firmino
Notable: Salah, Wijnaldum, Milner, Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold,
In form: Soares, Marega, Telles
Market and Player Assessment
This should be a routine walkover for Liverpool, and the betting and the algorithm agree. They just need to give themselves a nice advantage to take to Porto to give the market confidence. Without one, the away game could be tough.
The thing with these expected walkovers is that a lot of the buying will be done early because we can quite confident that Liverpool have at least 4 treble games ahead. So, there might not be huge gains if those expectations are just met. All the more reason to get in as early as possible if you are going to.
But, if those high expectations are not met, that is when we get the real bloodbaths. So it must be watched carefully.
Salah will get lots of attention although his form is very poor. He is getting decent chances lately but just missing them. Still, with little competition, just 1 goal will mean he is much more competitive than he usually is.
On the form though, Mané looks vastly more likely 8 goals in 6 for club and country. Again, he will benefit from not having much competition on the day.
As will Firmino, who I think is the better performance player of the 3 anyway. He is in reasonable form and has decent threat lately.
In midfield, I’d look at Wijnaldum or Milner as possible contenders for big baselines if Liverpool dominate the game. Both have some threat too. With high score Man. City midfielders playing away, they might have a shot. These two are really not bad cut priced dividend punts on limited game treble days.
At the back, any Liverpool player has a shout. Van Dijk or Alexander-Arnold (injury doubt, check) will contend as usual although the price is very high. Robertson or the other starting CB have a shot too.
It should be a tough away game for Porto so they might struggle for possession. But they do have some decent performance players, some with EPL transfer links.
Soares, Merega and Corona are in decent form, but Corona is banned. Soares and Marega have strong recent goal threat.
Intriguingly Left Back Alex Telles appears to be on penalties, putting away THREE of them in the last 5 games. That makes him an interesting punt at a very cheap price. He also has some transfer links to Atletico. One for the next transfers update me thinks.
Hector Herrera is a strong potential performance player, and also has Atletico links (he is in the Transfer Centre) but he is banned for this game.
And Brahimi is also decent as a performance player although his links to Everton are a dampener.
9th April - Tottenham v Man. City
Betting Odds: Tottenham 4.65 Draw 4.05 Man. City 1.8
SPI Win Probability: Tottenham 23% Draw 23% Man. City 54%
In form: Kane,
Notable: Alli, Eriksen, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Winks
In form: Sterling, Aguero,
Notable: Sané, David Silva, Mahrez, Laporte, Zinchenko,
Market and Player Assessment
Should be a competitive game with City the favourites but Spurs are at home and you can’t write them off.
The market will be assuming a City win so if Spurs look like taking a big advantage to the Etihad it could be brutal. With a draw or slim advantage for Spurs though people will still expect them to turn this around.
If Spurs did win convincingly they could get a good reaction particularly for Kane.
For Spurs, in a tough game, I suspect this is not one for big baseliners like Alderweireld, Vertonghen or Winks. It’s a time when someone like Kane who is bang in form could thrive with a goal.
Alli too is a far better performance player than he has let on this season. Threat has not been brilliant lately but with a goal he could do well.
Spurs have some high baseline centre backs but I don’t see this as their game, they need an easier match where they can dominate. However, Alderweireld has good recent goal threat and he would be my punt if I was going to.
Rotation is always difficult for City but I expect a full strength side here. Aguero and Sterling are the clear favourites, with Aguero the far better price for the CL punt.
Elsewhere, Mahrez, Sané or David Silva would be my picks if they play. Zinchenko is also good for his cut price although his minutes may be coming down as they get to the serious end of the tournament.
City defenders are always strong although they may not have it all their own way in this game. On this day, I’d be looking at Liverpool defenders who will have an easier time. However, they are strong across the board and any could challenge. I particularly like Laporte for his consistency of starts and performances.
10th April - Man Utd v Barcelona
Betting Odds: Manchester Utd 3.76 Draw 3.7 Barcelona 2.09
SPI Win Probability: Manchester Utd 25% Draw 21% Barcelona 54%
In form: Lukaku, Rashford,
Notable: Pogba, Martial
In form: Messi, Suarez, Piqué,
Notable: Dembelé, Coutinho, Rakitic, Alba
Market and Player Assessment
Tough game. Barcelona the favourites but I do not think it will be easy.
Being Manchester United, if they can strike a blow in the first leg and give themselves a chance to get through, it would have a big market impact on their player prices, particularly Rashford, Pogba and perhaps Martial.
There will be plenty of interest in Messi but in the case of an upset he could suffer.
Pogba is not in form but all it takes is a penalty for him to be up there. His goal threat apart from that is not brilliant lately, though.
Lukaku and Rashford look strong options and they will benefit from not having to compete with high baseline players. A goal could swing it for either and they are both in form, particularly Lukaku.
Martial is working his way back from injury but could be in with a shot, before the injury he was looking good.
If Manchester United somehow dominate possession you could Herrera doing well but I don’t see that happening.
I don’t have much faith in the defensive options for United this season.
For Barcelona, there are slight injury doubts for Messi, Suarez but they are expected to be fine, though.
It’s hard to look beyond Messi who is the perfect performance player and bang in form. Only Suarez can compare to his goal threat recently and he is another strong option for this game.
Pique is a solid defender and has 2 goals in 5 so he would be the pick at the back. Dembelé is not in the best form and may be injured. If so, Coutinho may play and he has been doing better lately, he had a good game in the last CL match vs Lyon with a goal.
Rakitic and Alba could do well if Barcelona dominate, but away, I am not expecting that.
10th April - Ajax v Juventus
Betting Odds: Ajax 3.6 Draw 3.45 Juventus 2.2
SPI Win Probability: Ajax 42% Draw 23% Juventus 35%
In form: Tadic, Neres, Ziyech
Notable: de Ligt, Blind, de Jong, Tagliafico
In form: Ronaldo,
Notable: Pjanic, Sandro, Dybala
Market and Player Assessment
Throughout this series I’ve found the algorithm to be pretty good at highlighting a possible upset. It backed Ajax to beat Real at home and even gave them a decent chance away. The betting just tends to go with the heavy favourite.
I think the same is true here, I do expect Juventus to win but Ajax are absolutely no push overs and are well capable of another shock.
If they do, Tadic, Neres or Ziyech area the most likely to do the damage. The market will be most interested in Ziyech and Neres because of the transfer speculation. Tadic and Ziyech are extremely high quality and should score big with a goal. Neres does not quite have their baselines but with limited competition on the day could do well.
There will also be interest in de Ligt and Tagliafico due to transfer speculation and de Jong with his move to Barcelona.
Juventus could be without their in form talisman, Ronaldo. That’s a blow.
In his absence Dybala has a better chance of starting after he has been benched for a while. There will be a lot of interest in him if so due to the transfer speculation.
Moise Kean has been heavily bought too after goals in two soft games for Italy, though his last 2 appearances for Juventus have been off the bench. The price is getting silly, but nonetheless, if he does start, or even come off the bench to score, there will be interest.
If Juventus do dominate this game, we can expect decent scores from Pjanic and Sandro, too.