I’ll do a quick round up in between the rounds for each CL game going forward.
I’ll do some Europa round up’s too but not in so much detail at least until the numbers of teams is whittled down.
First leg reviews are up top, and I’ve left my original preview written Jan 15th at the end for interest.
Tottenham vs RB Leipzig - 19th February & 3rd October
A decisive result that really puts RB Leipzig in the driving seat. The algorithm was set on Leipzig to qualify (64%) before the game, it now makes them near enough dead certs at 84%. The betting odds agree now too – heavily favouring RB Leipzig where as before the game they were 50/50 on who qualifies.
The algorithm triumphs again – I found last season that whilst not always right it was good at highlighting upsets or where the betting odds were a bit off.
It would seem foolish to bet against Leipzig now.
However, like I said before the first leg, neither of these sides are expected to get beyond the quarters and they likely face a very tough draw if going through.
Therefore, sticking to players you want longer term anyway that have that full season fit and another reason to hold them later in the season is generally best.
It’s interesting to note here that whilst many will have considered Tottenham vs Leipzig a fairly even match up, we did not see much negative market reaction after Spurs now look likely to go out.
This shows how important expectations are in knockouts – very few people will be holding Spurs players expecting a deep CL run. Them going out is not particularly shocking so we can expect the reaction to be fairly muted.
By contrast if a team like Liverpool or Barcelona go out in a match up they are expected to win the market reaction can be severe. It’s likely to happen to at least one big team so be wary.
There were boosts for the now expected winners Leipzig – Angelino, Ampadu, Werner (mild).
But again, not a huge reaction which reflects the likely lack of confidence that Leipzig will go much further than the quarters. However – good Leipzig players will still likely get a shot at a couple of Gold Days and can beat a big side they are no mugs.
So holding some you want anyway for longer term reasons can be a solid play.
And, for the Gold Day Quarter Final’s we will want to be on the look out for under the radar cheap picks beyond the usual who can win on a limited fixture day.
Someone like Sabitzer who is good but not as good as people have thought can easily win and people could overestimate him and buy again.
Poor showing, giving up lots of possession at home.
Lo Celso was my Tottenham pick from the preview and he was the best of them, both in terms of his real score of 161 and his chances of turning it into a winning one with decent chances to score and 3 key passes.
This is an improvement from my last review in scouting when he was being played too deep. I’m just a bit worried for Lo Celso because whilst he is capable of a good score, he’s leaving it a bit late given his lack of full season fit.
Bergwijn, who arrived too late for my preview, looked decent too. As per recent scouting there are signs of encouragement and he showed more good stuff here. I think he noses ahead of Lo Celso as the Tottenham pick because his Holland involvement gives him a back up reason to hold.
Werner was my pick from Leipzig and he delivered with a dividend. On a Bronze Day, it’s not a big deal as we always knew. But, a win is a win and it’s good for a player that is hitting a premium price to get on the winners list.
It maintains confidence and keeps his momentum up ahead of Euro 2020 and an expected Summer move.
Still going to be the favourite at home and with Atalanta away, he’d be my number one pick for the second leg.
Nkunku did well enough and playing a high profile game like this helps him. As per the preview and recent scouting, I’m now questioning whether he has much further to rise this season.
However, the home leg is a big chance to shine and get attention. And he is very capable of winning on a Gold Day and as a young player people could easily buy him. So there can be a good case for holding for those games but I would be wary of holding too much longer than that due to his lack of full season fit.
My niche crossing fetish player Angelino did his thing again and was rewarded on the market. As per this week’s scouting – we’d noted in the Guide Prices it was very possible to get a defender towards £1.70 by taking advantage of people who take the “flying fullback” thing a bit too literally. He continues his climb and we should enjoy it with the CL games ahead – he’s a strong contender for the Gold Day’s.
But, don’t get too carried away, £1.70 would be more than fair for Angelino.
Sabitzer as mentioned above is very capable of a win on a Gold Day and as more and more people realise they overestimated him and the sentiment is down, he’s looking better and better value and a potential good punt for the next game and the round after that should they qualify.
Upamecano could do some serious damage to performance scoring at home if Leipzig have high possession. He was suspended last night (I missed that for the preview, my mistake). But his baseline could be high enough to get the win without a goal, and he has been showing strong goal threat. On a boosted European score night if that goal goes in he could be clearing 350+ with ease and people might get silly.
Schick was wasteful but had good chances and could nick a win. Rotation is a risk but for £1.41 as a shorter term punt I think he looks ok. He has already risen however due to the expected start so that makes me a bit less keen.
Atalanta vs Valencia - 19th February & 3rd October
In the preview I thought we could see a lot of goals from Atalanta and 4-1 pretty much puts the tie to bed already.
The betting odds pre match were 50/50 but again, the algorithm comfortably gave it to Atalanta and correctly predicted a heavy first leg victory.
Ilicic, Gomez and Pasalic were my picks from Atalanta in the preview.
Ilicic delivered, very very unlucky not to take the Star Player due to the rescheduled Man. City game. You can’t really legislate for this. We might see 2-6 +300 scores in a month – the odds of 2 coming along in a single game are very low.
In theory, this shouldn’t happen very often at all. I don’t think we should worry too much about rescheduled games interfering with scores going forward – it’s an unlikely event.
For the next leg, Valencia do not have a lot of firepower so the chances of them overturning a 4-1 deficit seem very low to me.
It’s also notable that Ilicic did really well and nobody cared. Barely moved in price. Partly, this is likely because it was clear that Rodri was going to have almost anyone beat. But also, it’s Ilicic’s age.
This is why I suggested that holding early then selling before the actual game may be the play – older players may win but people still may not buy.
That will apply for the second leg. However, for Gold Day’s things might be a bit different as there are serious dividends up for grabs and the veterans will often be strong contenders.
I expect plenty of value options on this front though so there is no real need to hold onto mid priced ones too long.
A bit like Spurs/Leipzig, this is an underdogs tie and the winner is likely to get a tough draw, so again, a focus on longer term players rather than just one knockout game here seems best.
Ilicic clearly the form man but Gomez remains capable. Actually a poor first game for Gomez.
I would not go out of my way to bet on either in the away leg this time as if they win people might not care, and the dividend is weak on a Bronze Day. And, Leipzig are at home and I expect the winner to come from them.
Pasalic was my younger pick from Atalanta. At 25, he’s a good age for continued optimism and this was a good opportunity for him to show some quality. He did pretty well bagging 2 assists but the performance score was disappointing for that at 194 (boosted). He missed a big chance which cost him points and had that gone in he would have been a contender.
The best Atalanta player to take into the second leg in my view since he was close here and a big performance could see him rise further. Has done very well since the preview rising from £1.10 to £1.36 in the month.
Parejo was savaged on the market and in the preview I said he would be very vulnerable to a price drop if Valencia go out.
Parejo would likely have rebounded if he made the Gold Day quarter finals where he’d have a big chance. Without them, he suffers due to age and a lack of obvious full season fit.
It was very risky taking him into the away leg vs Atalanta, not something I’d ever have done.
This is an important point – once the knockout looks likely there are very few good decisions we can make from there. We only have options before the game.
Simple rule to keep us out of trouble in knockouts:
If we wouldn’t want a player at all if they were knocked out – don’t take them into a knockout game.
At home, Parejo can win it but with it being a Bronze Day and Atalanta still likely to go through even if Valencia win by 1 or 2… I can’t think of a reason why I’d be buying Parejo.
If Valencia pull off a real upset Parejo could be a good shout to take into the Gold Day’s now he has been further knocked down in price.
At this point, I can’t see a reason to be backing Valencia in any way but if we felt we had to Parejo, Guedes, Soler would be the bets.
Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool - 18th Feb and 11 March
We were expecting a tight game with Atletico at home from the preview and we got it. Low scores across the board apart from Saul discussed below.
Sets up a difficult 2nd leg for Liverpool against a tough side.
Note that the betting odds and algorithm have now tightened significantly and both put this pretty much a 50/50 now. Liverpool were comfortable favourites to qualify before the 1st leg and the algorithm gave them a 76% chance. Now it’s down to 54%.
My feeling is that most will still expect Liverpool to qualify from here and that may be why we have not seen much movement on the market.
Liverpool players are now vulnerable to a knock out here, particularly if they rely on a long CL run for much of their value like Salah. Alexander-Arnold may get away with it a bit because he has Euro 2020 in the locker but at his price he needs a lot to go right for him.
Atletico players have plenty to gain if they do pull off what will still be perceived as an upset. Morata, Saul, Felix, Lemar could be in line to benefit if they do.
That’s somewhat dampened by them being mostly poor for performance scoring, but at the right price you can still get a decent price rise if they go through – being poor for performance scoring is not a huge problem on a Gold Day when there are only 1/2 fixtures in play.
A goal can be enough and it is better to be sitting on these players already than piling in after they look sure to qualify.
Lots of possession but no real cutting edge. For the home leg we can expect challenges from all the usual suspects like TAA and VVD. Salah Firmino or Mane are big contenders. Really, any Liverpool player can win it at home. I just don’t think it will be worth punting for a dividend on a Bronze day.
And, with the possibility of an exit, I’d be tightening up on Liverpool players and not be overexposed here.
A big performance from Felix would make a huge impact. But it’s going to be tough away for Atletico.
Morata can nick it and had at least one good effort despite Atletico playing very defensively at home.
Saul took the dividend but goals from him are rare and it’s hard to bet on this for any one game. Could do it though. Likewise, one of Partey‘s rare thunderbolts could win it if we are desperate for a punt.
Not a bad idea to be carrying some value Atletico assets in case they do cause an upset.
Borussia Dortmund vs PSG - 18th Feb and 11th March
From the preview we expected a tight first leg with Dortmund at home, but thought PSG would cruise to victory in the second.
That still feels about right to me and the away goal for PSG is a big deal.
But, it wasn’t a great PSG performance and the algorithm and betting odds are now making this much more of a 50/50. PSG were heavy favourites before.
As I said in the preview I think a lot of traders viewed this as a fairly even contest. That can suppress buying for both teams as people fear a knockout.
Since the 1st leg met those expectations and we still have an even contest the probable market reaction looks straightforward – we can just expect price rises for the winners and drops for the losers.
Huge night for Haaland and if he was ever going to get a chance to win this was it and he took it.
Relief for holders who must have been sweating after recent drops. But it doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t know already. Good goalscorer, and the scoring rate is frankly nuts.
But his score for 2 goals and the matchwinner is abysmal. I think a lot of people still forget European scores are boosted and his 241 is actually 193 by my count.
When a player scores 2 + a matchwinner and is still not in competitive range in his category for a normal match day that is a red flag, not a cause for optimism.
It means that he needs a hatrick including the matchwinner to even be in with a chance on a normal Gold Day. But that’s nothing we didn’t know already.
If Dortmund win and he can get to some Quarter Final Gold Days where there is little competition, he would be a strong contender and that will keep him alive a bit longer.
Hakimi and Guerreiro are still looking very strong for Dortmund. As is Sancho and probably the returning Brandt who was absent through injury.
But, we should expect PSG to be dominating at home and I think it will be hard to bet on individual Dortmund players for success.
If we think Dortmund will qualify though betting on the usual suspects may be the play.
I don’t like betting however so as an insurance I would be going for the ones with a second late season reason to hold them outside the CL, such as a Summer transfer or Euro 2020.
Near miss for Verrati whose high baseline nearly won it on a fairly quiet day.
Backing high baseliners like this when the favourites are both playing away like last night is viable and they can pull it off.
However, in the next matchday for both Liverpool v Atletico and PSG v Dortmund the favourites are both at home and I would expect the goalscorers to be taking the dividends.
We can’t look beyond Neymar who was dangerous last night and would have won the forward category without the second Haaland goal. He remains the clear favourite for the next leg but note he’s dropped 10p after this and people will be a bit twitchy.
Neymar really benefits from a late CL run for media and performance so if that is taken away he could take a significant hit. He does at least have a Summer transfer prospect to prop him up. But, the higher the price the more pressure they are under to succeed and not even Neymar is immune from that, especially with no Euro 2020 involvement.
No real change in terms of expectations for the second leg, Neymar, Mbappe, Icardi, Di Maria still contenders and I’m expecting PSG to do much better at home.
Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool - 18th Feb and 11 March
Key: Felix, Morata
Key: Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold, Salah, Mané, Firmino
Notable: Keita, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Market and Player Assessment
Two very strong teams defensively. Liverpool far superior in attack but Atletico have home advantage in the first leg and that feels like a recipe for a tight match, but Liverpool are comfortable favourites over both legs.
Liverpool are capable of some big scores particularly in the second leg at home, but both match days will be shared with Dortmund vs PSG, another tight game with lots of gifted performance players and they have stiff competition.
My pick would be Van Dijk who has been showing excellent stats lately, and can dominate in a low scoring game where Atletico can be expected to give up a lot of possession.
He’s a solid choice, still at a reasonable price, and very capable of further wins if Liverpool progress to the Gold Days. In the event of a knockout, the Euros is something to fall back on.
Whilst TAA can win, I think VVD offers much better value and his chances of winning improve in limited match day knockout games, particularly when they are low scoring.
In attack, I would avoid the favourites in Salah, Firmino and Mané (and Keita too). All are capable of winning. But it feels like high risk for little gain on a bronze day where it is assumed Liverpool will go through anyway.
If we really wanted a punt, Wijnaldum may get attention closer to the game, if his occasional goal goes in he can win, and people will remember he won vs Genk this season in the CL already. Or Oxlade-Chamberlain as a late punt, if he hasn’t risen too much before the game and looks like starting.
A big performance from Felix would make a huge impact. But it feels unlikely in a low scoring, low possession team that aren’t expected to win.
Especially since Felix is in such poor form. Really not worth it for many reasons as covered in Scouting. Jumping on fast mid-game in the event of an upset with Felix in a starring role might be viable though, especially if Felix keeps dropping.
Morata would be my pick from Atletico by a long way. At £1.02 he’s a decent IPD punt and has a chance of leading for Spain later.
In great scoring form, and can win on limited fixture days. At a low stable price with reasons to hold later, he feels like a free hit bet that could pay off if there is an unlikely upset.
Borussia Dortmund vs PSG - 18th Feb and 11th March
Key: Brandt, Sancho, Hakimi,
Notable: Reus, T Hazard, Alcacer, Guerreiro
Key: Neymar, Mbappé, Icardi
Notable: Di Maria, Marquinhos
Market and Player Assessment
The first leg could be tight with Dortmund at home but PSG are expected to cruise to victory in the second leg, with the betting odds and algorithm in agreement.
Both have strong attacks but Dortmund have shipped goals to Inter and Barcelona in recent CL games and this leakiness is expected to cost them. And should benefit PSG attackers.
Overall though, I think many will view this as a good contest, and we could see price rises for winners and significant dips for some losers here.
Brandt is looking much improved as per December Scouting reviews, including in 2 winter break friendlies in the last week where he showed good goal threat again. Can challenge for the win particularly for the home leg. Has risen significantly in the last month and I think he is a strong choice for the CL and the rest of the season in general. Was better at £1.80 to £2 in December Scouting but £2.56 is still a good price versus his potential. If interested I would not let this run away too much further.
Sancho is obviously the main draw. Had an incredible November/December before the winter break, which did not always come through on performance scoring due to his trouble competing with real midfield big hitters as discussed in Scouting in December.
This would be his moment to shine though. He did well vs both Inter and Barcelona in the groups, scoring and assisting and making a good contribution. Can win, particularly in the 1st leg and can get hype. But my overall view still stands, he’s fine for passive traders but he’s unlikely to deliver big returns and carries significant risk if the hoped for EPL transfer doesn’t materialise by Summer.
Hakimi is looking superb this season, particularly in the CL where he has 2 braces to his name, including vs Inter. A strong contender if Dortmund do well although they are underdogs here. Possibly vulnerable to a drop if Dortmund go out but hype links to Real Madrid may sustain him… even though that doesn’t necessarily improve him.
I’d be confident holding him in the build up, less so for the game where a knockout could hurt.
Reus is in great form as a good cheap option. 3 goals and 4 assists in the last 5, though his CL record this season is fairly poor. That was before he hit form though. With Germany involvement too, this looks good value for £1.12, particularly if he starts well when the Bundesliga returns.
Hard to bet against Neymar for obvious reasons, he’s got a great chance particularly in the home leg where PSG could dominate. Only concern is that he may take a drubbing if PSG go out. I think holders are generally quite sticky on him though and he may get his big transfer in the Summer to sustain him.
One of the few premiums that justify the price, I think he’s just a player to commit to for the long haul or not at all and don’t worry too much if he is knocked out and dips.
Mbappé is a strong contender for the headlines and the win. Great form, great CL record. And on limited fixture days, there is far less chance of better performance players outscoring him.
Can rise with hype and the promise of the Euro’s probably sustains him in the event of a knock out. Much better to be holding him now than in pre-season where I was strongly against it – that was right – despite all the talk of him being a “must hold” back then, the reality has been a highly underperforming trade.
You can see the same “must have” talk around now. I disagree – I think the next 6 months will be better, but at the price, not spectacular.
Icardi has a lot going for him and despite being a weak performance player, he can smash in enough goals for that not to matter, particularly on limited fixture days. Amazing form too. £1.80 is a nice balance of risk and reward. You’ll likely get some solid IPD out of this whilst you wait. He probably rises before the match. Selling before may be best.
If you let him run for the games, he could knock it out of the park and increase significantly if PSG get a favourable Quarters draw. He’ll be a gold day contender for sure. But, a knock out would do bad things to the price.
I think it’s a great pick but I would consider banking a profit if there is a significant pre-match rise.
Di Maria is superb and has every chance of walking away with it. But, he’s very vulnerable to a knock out given his age at this stage of the season. A good choice for the next month at this value price, he can get IPD and performance wins in the mean time. But I would probably be selling before the game if I can lock a profit in to dodge any risk of elimination which would not be pretty.
Marquinhos is a strong contender for the defender dividend and a bit of attention. His goal and assist potential are not what they used to be, they are weak. But in limited game knock outs, his big baselines can easily be enough to win by default if other defenders don’t score. A good choice and you might get him to £1.50 or so. Maybe more if PSG make it through and get a favourable draw – he’s a good Gold Day contender for later.
Tottenham vs RB Leipzig - 19th February & 3rd October
Key: Lo Celso, Son
Notable: Alli, Aurier
Key: Werner, Sabitzer, Upamecano
Notable: Forsberg, Nkunku, Klostermann, Halstenberg
Market and Player Assessment
First major disagreement between betting odds and the algorithm. Betting odds make this a toss up as to who qualifies, with the algorithm set on an RB Leipzig win. It makes Leipzig heavy favourites at home.
Leipzig have faced sterner opposition in Benfica and Lyon, and are unbeaten away. Spurs have only thrashed minnows or been taken apart by Bayern. But then Spurs are under new management. Tricky.
I would lean towards Leipzig but it may be better not to worry too much about that. Whoever makes it through is likely to get a very rough draw and probably will not be expected to go much further anyway. I think best to stick to players we want anyway, with a good CL run considered a bonus here.
This game is also on the same day as Atalanta vs Valencia. I’d be wary of Atalanta demolishing Valencia at home and stealing the show.
First thought is Lo Celso, who finally showed what he is capable of yesterday vs Middlesborough. I’ve been highlighting his ability in Scouting but he hasn’t shown it until now.
Had this FA Cup game been scored, it would have been a big score for Lo Celso as he had a favourable playing position and brought his great FI suitable mix of threat, creativity and involvement to the party.
Whilst he lacks the Euros, or a credible transfer rumour for later, I think he is one can that be an exception to the full season fit rule. The price is right for a potentially very good player who can attract an EPL premium with more good performances.
Son is also very capable. Despite poor domestic form, his CL record this season has been good, netting braces twice all be it vs weak opponents. And scoring a consolation vs Bayern. Longer term prospects are not brilliant, so it may be smart to sell before the game if picking up now.
Alli is coming off a price drop after his hype phase. I’m pretty pleased with how this trade went in Scouting, able to predict the chance of hype to get the rise, but also identify the likely weakness to sell before the dip. He can win on a limited fixture day though. If he dropped further in price he wouldn’t be a bad bet to pick up a week or two before, but I’m not super keen because his recent stats are poor.
Werner could be the man to beat, particularly when at home. In blistering form and my views on him are clear from Scouting. I’ve been very keen on him since pre-season at £1.90ish and up at £4.15 now I think he deserves that price.
A solid bet because he retains duel reasons to hold no matter what happens in the CL. Having both the Euros and a big transfer prospect is a powerful combo for the second half of the season. CL is a bonus and Leipzig are one of the better underdogs who could cause upsets.
Nkunku is a good youngster who has a chance to shine, good recent form. One from my October wonderkid series hovering around £1 then, he’s doubled in price by now. Still good for the price and unlucky not to get more goals/assist with his numbers.
Long term holders are looking in good shape, those like me who like to think 3-4 months ahead may want to offload him at some point before the season end, then look to rebuy for next season later on. Not too many concrete reasons to hold towards the season end. But I think he’s worth holding up to the CL at least.
Sabitzer is definitely a player who is not as good as many have thought. I’ve said that consistently whilst he was being hyped and the longer term results and the subsequent price drop show why. He’s far too often a nearly man, despite some great performances. The why of that is all explained in Scouting.
But, for the CL, on a limited game day, he can definitely be a strong contender. And his CL performances so far this season have been very good with 2 goals and 2 assists in 5. After a price drop from £2.90 to £2.39, he’s officially off my “I’d rather put a shotgun in my mouth than buy this” list.
He can be on my “not bad” list instead. With the Euros and a possible transfer to come, and the chance of a good CL performance and an occasional domestic win too, it’s nowhere near as bad as it was.
Forsberg is a solid cheap punt and may attract interest ahead of the game. Great CL form, with 3 goals and an assist in the last CL 3 games and those goals came vs tough opponents in Benfica and Lyon. Still 28 and playing for Sweden, £1.24 looks solid value to take into the CL games, especially after a recent price drop.
Klostermann and Halstenberg are both options who have reasonable chances of winning, and background factors like loose transfer rumours and Germany involvement. But I think both are fairly expensive for what you get.
I am more tempted by Upamecano due to his excellent baselines. Scouting readers from November will recall I highlighted this improvement the week before he got his first win vs Benfica in the CL. He got a nice price jump there. His goal threat across the last 10 games is also huge for a CB, and respectable even for a midfielder. None have gone in so far. When one does, the score could be big.
Also has transfers and future France prospects but Euro 2020 feels too early. £1.64 is premium defender territory but he’s got the numbers and trend fit to back it up.