Notes for New Readers
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 SF 1st Leg
30th April - Tottenham v Ajax
Betting Odds: Tottenham 2.34 Draw 3.54 Ajax 3.35
SPI Win Probability: Tottenham 46% Draw 21% Ajax 30%
In form: Llorente, Moura, Eriksen,
Notable: Son (banned), Alli, Vertonghen
In form: Ziyech, Neres, van de Beek, Tadic
Notable: Dolberg, de Jong, de Ligt, Tagliafico
Market and Player Assessment
One spoiler game on this day with PSG playing Montpellier. This is bad news for those holding for the Champions League because that is likely to be a much more one sided match.
You can profit from this however by picking up some PSG players who could steal the treble dividends. I don’t like this though and it is reducing the excitement for CL match ups which I don’t think is good for the market overall.
Spurs are correctly the favourites but people have said that about Ajax’s opponents in every knockout. I still expect Tottenham to win but it may be a narrow advantage that sets up a tough second leg. If they draw or lose, their players might take a kicking.
Ajax prices are tough to call inflated as they are but if they do take an advantage home they could increase even further. If they look knocked out they could tank, although many of them have transfer reasons to hold them and might hold up ok.
Son is banned and will be a big miss. I expect buying interest in him for the second leg though unless Spurs look out. Kane is likely still out too.
That could be an opportunity for Llorente and Moura who are both in decent form with good Expected Goals per 90 and they look the most likely men to make an impact.
Eriksen is improving in terms of threat in the last 3 but his passing accuracy has been wayward, although away against Manchester City it is not easy.
He did better in the home CL leg vs City for possession but his threat in that game was weak. He is capable of popping up with a big score and if he is going to do it the home leg should be the one.
Alli I am less keen on if played deep as he has been recently, it really reduces his threat. I like him better when pushed up so check the team news for that, Dier’s return may help on that front. Alli played in attack vs City at home in the QF so that’s a good sign.
He has had his chances in the last 5 though and should have done better. That could indicate a goal is not far off.
Not many stand outs at the back although Vertonghen would be my pick if any. Particularly if played at left back he is superb although that is rare these days.
For Ajax, Ziyech would be my pick due to his excellent goal threat and involvement particularly in the Champions League. Close behind though is Neres who looks dangerous and has decent involvement too.
Tadic looks a good value option for anyone looking for a punt. Whilst he has not scored against Juventus or Real, he has had good opportunities in every game except away at Juventus and you can pick him up for under 50p at time of writing.
There are plenty of options though and the more lightly owned van de Beek is in good form with 3 goals in 6 and solid involvement numbers too.
Dolberg looks a good young goal scorer with reasonable threat although suffers rotation and is typically low baseline. Still, if he came on and scored he could get interest. Price isn’t terrible.
de Ligt by now is criminally over priced. Decent goal threat for a CB (maybe 1 goal in 6-7 games) but he tends not to see much of the ball in away legs.
This is why he scored the matchwinner last time out but only managed 144 and didn’t win. Can still fly with a good performance but I would not be anywhere near this in case it tanked because he does not score or similar.
Tagliafico looks a decent option at the back and usually he has some threat however in the CL he tends to be very cautious and not look to score. Price is ok though.
Just so many options for Ajax that picking a winner is hard.
1st May - Barcelona v Liverpool
Betting Odds: Barcelona 1.78 Draw 4.2 Liverpool 4.6
SPI Win Probability: Barcelona 46% Draw 23% Liverpool 30%
In form: Messi, Suarez
Notable: Coutinho, Dembelé, Alba,
In form: Salah, Mané, Firmino,
Notable: Kieta, Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Wijnaldum
Market and Player Assessment
Again one spoiler game on the day with Rennes v Monaco scheduled.
This is a tough heavyweight match up that feels like it could go either way over both legs. Therefore, we might see that buying of big ticket players may be fairly nervous/subdued in the build up.
That said, this is as big a game as you get so often people’s urge to “play” overtakes common sense.
In the away leg Liverpool are big underdogs and if they can come out only 1-0 down I think the market will not judge them too harshly.
Whilst people will be nervy about the outcome we can expect a big reaction both positively and negatively should any side take a decisive advantage. The winner of this match will be expected to win the Champions League.
For Barcelona, you can’t look past Messi as the main man who is in blistering form. He doesn’t even need a goal to get a big score, but more often than not, he will be on the scoresheet. Price is the only concern as well as the market’s downer on his age as per the site trends.
But, the price has dropped and he can be relied on to pick up some media at any time. If you want to back him, back him in the home leg where can dominate possession.
Coutinho has been improving lately and it is hard to say whether he or Dembelé will be given the nod. Dembelé is fit though and started the last game. Whichever starts they are both capable of a win but neither are showing amazing stats. Both have good Champions League records recently though.
Suarez has been in great form recently however in the last 2 his goal threat has been very poor. You can never count him out though and if he scores and Messi blanks he could win. Looks a good value punt at under 90p.
At the back, Alba would be the pick having scored last time out. Threat across the last 6 has not been stellar, but it has improved so it would not be crazy if he scored again although you can never really rely on defender goals.
I often like Pique as a defender punt but his threat in the last 5 has been zero. Like, actually zero.
For Liverpool you can take your pick from any of the front 3. Salah is hitting form at the right time and has the media appeal. But the price has rocketed recently which hits the value. He is getting a lot of chances and should be putting away more than he has.
Mané is deadly too and can win with a goal on a limited match day. Only issue is he comes at a hefty price tag. Firmino on the other hand is also in good form, is the better performance player due to higher involvement, and is by far the budget option. He would therefore be my pick.
I am liking Keita more as an option these days and if he breaks into the team next season as a regular starter I’d be keen at a cut price. He is a risk as he may not start but if he does he would be in with a chance, decent goal threat for a high possession middle of the park player. He may be better for the home leg rather than away though.
Very much a punt but Wijnaldum scored last game, has started 3 of the last 4 CL games and gets decent goal scoring opportunities occasionally, enough for maybe 1 goal in 10. Would not normally mention him but at 33p with a 1p spread it’s not a terrible dividend punt.
Robertson and Alexander-Arnold will always get attention and despite soft goal threat can put up baseline scores big enough to win on a soft day. I would back them at home not away though.
Van Dijk is the pick at the back. You pay the premium but he does have excellent threat historically and recently. Again, it’s tough away at Barcelona to build his big baselines and he would likely need to score to figure.