Let’s look at the recent Champions League games. Which winners demonstrated real quality, which got lucky, and which players have shown strong ability but missed out on wins or big scores?

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Champions League

Standout Performers

Whether they produced big scores in the Europa games or not, these are a selection of players that showed quality and promise with next season in mind.


A very predictable winner that came in. Twice. Without even scoring.

I think last review I speculated that because he’d been injured and Ligue 1 has been off for a long time I don’t think many people, particularly any new comers, quite realise just how unbelievably strong he is in FI scoring. 

That, and with many distracted by other premiums like Sancho, is probably the only reason his price has been pretty low on the bid for a while until now. 

It’s £9.16 now which I still think is good value if looking to add a premium player to the portfolio.

With his numbers, it’s probable that his relentless wins will continue (provided he stays fit anyway) and he will get much more attention the more games he plays.

Of course none of this is news particularly to scouting readers. It’s a recurring theme that I bang on about a lot at the moment but with so much obvious value available the only thing you need to make good profits right now is the confidence to go for well known good players when they aren’t all that popular.

We should never need social media reassurance or a recent price rise to convince us – this neediness is a profit killer.

Right now we don’t need to be finding the next Havertz or Werner or Felix or Jones or Bruno (though we will, as and when they appear). It’s easier than that at the moment. 

The biggest profits right now seem to be in relatively obvious players and it’s just about using the confidence that comes from good research and analysis to beat other traders to the punch.

I still think that theory has many weeks and probably months left to run because there is tons of value available in well known high quality players right now. And we have a huge football calendar on the way which gives players the opportunity to prove their quality.

Kevin De Bruyne

De Bruyne did so much right and he can hardly be blamed for City’s capitulation to Lyon.

Looking back at my last entries I wasn’t keen in early 2020 at £5 and we did see a drop. But I changed my mind by July 22nd in Scouting with the CL ban lifted and after a price drop and good performances – he was available for £4.50 then which looked good value to me. £5.21 Blue Button and £4.72 on the bid now after a few wins.

Not much more to say – £4.72 is clearly a price worth paying for a premium player who should challenge again and again.

Yet another example of how so much value has been, and still is, available in very obvious and well known players if you have the guts to go for it when they are on a downer.

Joao Cancelo

One of last month’s hot properties, now people seem keen to sell! So he’s available around 20p cheaper. 

And his CL performances have been good numbers wise – he looks a consistent challenger and all of the chatter is he has done enough to stay. Even if he doesn’t he probably goes to another big club he’s quality.

Not much to dislike here and it’s one of those moments where when nothing has changed except for the mood – it can be a good time to swoop if you want a solid defender for next season at a value price.


Something of a low key workhorse but Rodri impressed again in these two matches. If he plays his usual game we are extremely likely to see at least 3-4 big scores from him over a full season.

He’ll get some occasional goals but he may also not need one. With his elite baselines he can grab some soft wins too. His consistency makes him a decent challenger for Team of the Month too.

And for the money – currently £1.62 on a bid – that’s good value. 

Eric Garcia

A good youngster I highlighted in an “Under the Radar” article before his breakout. The more I see – the more I like him and the Lyon game was very impressive despite the result.

What sets him apart is the near perfect passing accuracy we saw in this game which is no fluke – it’s a common feature and what first attracted me to him.

The Barcelona transfer (quite likely) appears disappointing at first but this may cause a further price drop which could be an opportunity.

Barcelona defensive assets are not attractive at the moment but Koeman is a Tika Taka manager and if he is still signing Garcia it is almost certainly so he can help them play out from the back.

If people sell because he’s leaving the EPL I’d expect to be right there to pick him up.

Alex Sandro

Sandro is a quality player who will probably never get any hype but quietly plugs away and challenges for dividends. He bagged one vs Lyon here. 

He’s probably good for 2-3 wins a season at his usual level and provided you are getting him at a time when sentiment is down between seasons and with Juventus dumped out there are tidy profits available here.

I think this is a blind spot many people have in thinking every trade has to be sexy or exciting. They don’t they just have to be value. Even if you can pick up Sandro for 56p now and cash him in for 65p or more later that’s a solid profit. That’s achievable just based on people preparing for next season alone. And if he gets a win your dividend is a big percentage of the value and he may get a further bump. 

A similar thing happened to Carvajal just a few months ago and these can be enormous profits.

Don’t ignore the “boring” trades is my advice because the boring ones can often be more profitable than the ones hitting the Twitter headlines. In fact they often are.

Moussa Dembelé

Dembelé came on from the bench to sink Manchester City with a brace, netting holders a Gold dividend in the process.

His price has struggled as hype for his transfer died away but I don’t think that prospect has really gone anywhere. Certainly games like this do his chances of a big move no harm.

Looks a solid pick for me, with much the same reasoning as Depay below. Price drop. Potential big move. Boosted IPD window and clear run at match day dividends for Ligue 1. 

So even if you don’t get lucky with a big move or similar you’ve got a solid player for a good price. And the transfer window will come around again. 

He is fairly weak for FI purposes but he can win with limited competition. And big goal scorers always have value particularly if he gets an EPL move.

Robert Lewandowski

What’s left to say I haven’t said a dozen times already this season? 

He’s going to keep winning. And scoring. A lot. And likely always was. The only thing we’ve really needed to worry about is the contract and he wrapped up a deal until 2023 nearly a year ago now. 

Sometimes fear of age is valid. Sometimes it is moronic. This is the latter. Only in June he was £2.17 on the Blue Button and was probably much much lower on the bid. And we don’t really know anything now we didn’t know then.

As a general principle I’m not sure I’d be charging into Lewadowski on a CL semi final day. We should have done this ages ago if we were going to. However, the quality is such that you can’t say it’s bad value to buy at £2.77.

But there are tons of similar players out there right now you can go for that are near inevitably going to come back into fashion just like he has.

Thomas Muller

Quite similar to Lewandowski actually. The quality has been plain to see throughout 2020 as Scouting readers will be well aware.

His bid price will have been way lower until very recently. “He’s too old!” He’s 30. Almost 31 granted. But the contract runs until 2023 and he is integral to this Bayern side now under Flick. 

This kind of blind, lazy thinking where they apply “rules” about things like age costs people money all the time. It’s a valid factor but it’s one factor amongst many – price in particular.

Fortunately this blindness opens up these great value opportunites for those who aren’t afraid to go against the grain.

Joshua Kimmich

With Pavard unfortunately injured Kimmich was at Right Back again which reduces his baseline but allows him to get much further forward. The reward for holders was a goal and assist and a big win.

I’ve not been a Kimmich fan most of the season, certainly not after he spiked over £4+ in October. It was too much back then. I did warm to him in July as the dividend increase, Team of the Month and him being available for £4.50 on a bid combined to make him better value.

That approach was good – it avoided months of stagnation and heartache and snagged some dividends and finally for holders, a price rise.

That rise takes the edge off the value but he’s a solid player and I think he’s fine to hold into the season as a premium option.

Leon Goretzka

Nothing for Goretzka so far but he was close, particularly versus Barcelona. 

As usual he has solid baselines and with 3 decent chances he was just a goal away from challenging Kimmich’s 286 score.

Remains a solid option as I’ve said for a while. Despite the steady rise in recent months I think he started grotesquely undervalued in the first place. 

It would not be unreasonable if Goretzka was £2.50+ so assuming he keeps doing what he is doing I think it reasonable to expect him to earn that price tag in the season to come. 

Lorenzo Insigne

Another good display and goal from Insigne, though Napoli were overcome by Barcelona.

He feels frustrating at the moment but only because my expectations are so high. He has been racking up wins recently.

But on his exceptional numbers he should be getting more big scores and it’s as close to certain as we’ll ever get that more big scores will come.

A great player to take into next season and the bid price of £1.53 is superb value.

Karim Benzema

Great display and did not deserve to lose. 

Benzema ain’t done. I’ve said it for a while now but mid-season and with Real out of the CL he is now available for an astonishing 66p. This is Real Madrid’s leading striker most likely for all of next season until his contract runs out at the end. That’s a hell of a long time on FI.

Early season is the time to make the most of older players and here is a moment where a high quality one is available for peanuts. The over pessimism of others is waiting to be abused.

Mario Pasalic

Lovely goal vs PSG. Heartbreaking loss so didn’t count in the end but it could have had he not been subbed and Atalanta had held on. And this goal is the sort of thing Pasalic needs as he establishes in the side.

Looking solid and still value. Since the restart we’ve mainly seem him playing half matches and hopefully that changes next season because per minute his numbers are competitive. 

For 91p on a bid right now he remains excellent value with next season in mind.


Marquinhos was a predictable winner from the Ligue 1 preview. Holders are a little lucky though because whilst he can nick a goal two in two games is unusual.

That’s some hefty IPD at 10p a pop plus his Gold defender dividend.

Really solid player and one of those few defenders I consider capable of regularly getting head and shoulders above the pack. If anything I’m only surprised the price has stayed this low which is still reasonable at £1.50-£1.60. 

That has gone up substantially from £1.30~ a few months ago but it’s still remarkably good value for a player who must surely be well known quality by now.

Angel Di Maria

If Di Maria starts I expect a big score. He’s that good. And he proved it again here.

In the Ligue 1 preview 3 weeks ago I said:

“However. At just £1.07 after this generous dividends announcement it is tempting. It would not be outrageous if he returned 30-40% of that value by late September in dividends I jest not. 

And yet traders are always going to be twitchy on a player like this so any kind of injury or rotation and you could be in trouble. If you are going to buy Di Maria then now is the moment but this is one for the advanced traders who are comfortable with some risk.”

That feels right on both counts. Except my expectation of 30-40% in dividends looks too pessimistic now. 

We’ve seen a huge payout with 15p in IPD and 18p in Match Day dividends. No reason more isn’t on the way in the final either and he has the restart of Ligue 1 to go at.

Yet after a spike (I think I saw him on a bid for £1.50 just last night though may be wrong) he is back to a £1.14 bid again today.

This is one where it is valid to be twitchy on because of the contract situation. Unlike Lewandowski or Muller who have long contracts, Di Maria’s expires in 2021 which makes it a little scary. 

It seems unlikely that won’t be extended given his 2020 form which has been incredible. 

I’d be bullish on him if that deal was signed. Until then, I might be happy with the wins so far and let it go for now.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Questionable Performers

Gabriel Jesus

Jesus doesn’t get many positive mentions from me. And that’s not just because of a lack of pitch time it’s mainly because he’s really soft for FI scoring even when playing the full 90.

Credit where it is due though versus Real Madrid he was excellent and much more involved than usual. I’d put it down as a one off except in the last League game vs Norwich it was quite similar (although that was a rout). 

Unfortunately he was poor in the Lyon game again. I’m not convinced but at least he is showing he can be FI relevant if used in the right way. Something to keep an eye on as we may see a bigger role for him next season as Aguero gets to the final year of his contract.

Alternatively, he could be sold and if there is a price drop as he leaves the EPL and a move to a decent club he could be interesting. Best to wait and see with this one but it’s possible negativity savages the price so much he finally starts to look value.

Phil Foden

Started the Real game but didn’t finish it. Actually per minute these were poor numbers.

He’s a player I’ve liked for a long time. When played centrally which is clearly his best position he could be an FI powerhouse with a perfect trend fit. The problem is everyone thinks that and the price is huge.

He was the most advanced City player vs Real and it did not do good things for his numbers.

With all Pep’s tinkering both in terms of playing position and rotation in general is he going to be able to do enough next season for this price? My suspicion is he won’t, the price gives him a lot to do.

There are hype reasons to be optimistic though. He may get his first England game for example. 

If it sounds like I’m on the fence it’s because I am at £6.78. His potential quality is clear and at that price I think he’s fine for a long term hold.

But equally there is no doubt there are more obvious value options available too. 

You could also talk yourself into it by comparing him to Sancho. Any highly speculative arguments about Sancho being worth £30 in a year or two equally apply to Foden. If I had to I would put my money on Foden turning out the better FI player.

Raheem Sterling

Awful numbers across both CL games, goal and assist aside.

Goal threat was certainly there though and most of us will have seen the painful sitter missed vs Lyon. 

Anyone can miss a shot that doesn’t concern me. If the threat is there a quality player usually comes good and he has scored 4 in the last 5 games let’s not overreact. 

However, I do take issue with the fact that even if he had scored more it probably wouldn’t have counted for much, the baseline numbers were well below his usual.

But these were tough games. Once we see him back in the EPL week in week out we should see more goals and some decent scores. And we may actually get a Euro’s tournament at the end of the season this time.

Given the enormous price drop since November and a current £5 bid price I still consider him a solid option and for any admirers it is best to take advantage of current negativity if you want popular players in your portfolio. You don’t want to buy them when everyone wants to. 

And the market tends to overreact to a high profile mistake. That can drop the price well into value range.

Eden Hazard

A shadow of the player we remember for the EPL in the City game. In this case the general perception isn’t different from the underlying numbers. It was a poor game. 

Yet he is a player I’ve been optimistic on. Before injury and after the restart he showed some fantastic numbers and was very unlucky not to cap it with goals. He had good chances.

This poor performance vs City is bad for holders because it’s one of the few occasions where lots of traders will see him play and it sticks in the memory, inevitably dropping demand even further.

Just £2.62 on a bid now which is incredible for a player of this level.

Based on the numbers overall I think he’s been very unlucky not to do much better on FI. If he has a better second season he could prove himself seriously undervalued and I’d be happy to keep faith with him. 

I’d be much more likely to buy at £2.62 than sell for it put it that way.

Memphis Depay

Ick. I’d be delighted if he proves me wrong later tonight but his numbers in the last 3 games (the 2 CL games plus the League Cup final vs PSG) have been awful. Some of the worst stuff I’ve seen him produce.

He did score a wonderfully arrogant penalty vs Juventus.

That aside though his usual brilliance was subdued. I’d accuse him of not being fit after injury but his numbers were just fine in July friendlies vs Celtic, Gent and Antwerp.

I suspect these recent poor numbers just reflect tough CL games where Lyon know they are the underdog and they are grinding out results. He’s shown such brilliance for a long time I’m not going to change my mind on him based on a few tough matches.

Lots of other people have though because his price has been smashed. If I recall the bid recently was up at £4 yet it’s £3.67 right now. 

I’d be an emphatic yes on the value of this trade but Lyon likely missing out on European competition next year is a real downer. That said I think I joked about the chances of Lyon getting into the CL as winners in the preview and that looks a little less funny now. Bayern probably have too much for them but so did Juventus apparently.

There is also the possibility of a big transfer though. 

At £4 I’d be wary but if you can pick up Depay for £3.67 now, or potentially less if you gamble on Lyon going out… that’s a solid choice in my view. You may drop on the big transfer. If you don’t, he’s very likely to deliver big scores in Ligue 1 next season.

As a sweetener if you buy Depay today you get 4 (possibly 5) boosted IPD matches out of him and 3 of those are versus soft teams. And he’ll have little competition for match day dividends vs Dijon and Bordeaux because it’s the only league in play until mid-September.

Alphonso Davies

I covered him as an example in State of the Market this week already. It’s a classic case of people mixing up “good to watch” with “good on FI”.

He’s not awful but he is bang average for FI purposes. And when you are paying £4.40 for a bang average player that is a trading horror show that almost always ends in tears.

People were starting to figure that out and the price has been tanking but an eye catching display and soft win can give people false hope and we see the price rebounding now.

It’s not impossible he improves enough to justify it but it is very hard because he has a lot to do. And given the price you pay it’s just a woeful bet.

Mauro Icardi

Icardi, the Champions League with limited competition and boosted IPD’s felt like a match made in heaven at £1.50 back in the Ligue 1 preview. Hasn’t been, though.

He was awful versus Atalanta and then benched versus Leipzig. It now feels like it would be a surprise if he starts in the Final.

Can’t win ’em all I guess. Still, a good thing about the bet was it’s a reasonable starting price and given those IPD’s extend all the way until the end of September with Ligue 1 players having an uncontested run at Match Day dividends… it’s not over yet for Icardi holders.

Presnel Kimpembe

It feels a bit harsh putting him here after a string of decent scores in 2020 and a CL win. 

He’s a very tidy centre back with good passing accuracy but he’s still a centre back and they do tend to struggle. We have to remember that these big CL scores are all boosted – and it tends to make players look a bit better than they are. I think people forget that and can be over impressed by them.

He generally lacks that edge which is going to get him above the pack on a competitive day. 

But that’s not to say he can’t do it again in the Final, or indeed when Ligue 1 is back and uncontested by other leagues. And he gets France minutes. The price is reasonable too at 90-95p.

I’m talking myself into it a bit and I think he’s a fine hold. I just think there are probably better ones out there.

Kylian Mbappé

Unlucky not to score over both games. But the rest of the numbers are, pretty predictably, poor.

Amazing player. But the harsh reality is he just isn’t as good for FI as many people want him to be.

My concern is that he will never get an easier stage than Ligue 1 so whilst he will inevitably improve he will also face tougher opposition if he gets a long awaited big move to La Liga or the EPL.

After a long period of stagnation he got a big price bump this year due to transfer speculation which may come to nothing. In fact it feels unlikely right now. But maybe next year.

Holders really need him to explode in the Final or at least make the most of the limited competition for match day dividends coming up or he could start to struggle under the weight of this price tag.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Champions League Semi Final Preview

Both the betting and the fivethirtyeight.com algorithm are very clear – Bayern are going to win tonight. Both give Lyon less than a 10% chance of winning. 

It’s hard to disagree and it would seem stupid to bet against it. Fortunately, the beauty of FI is we don’t have to place all or nothing bets.

Again, we’re looking for players potentially on either side who can win outright or score but are also fine to hold into next season come what may.

There is no way I’d be heading into next season without a contingent of Bayern players anyway. They are just too strong. And all the usual suspects are going to be in the mix. 

Lewandowski. Muller. Gnabry. Goretzka. Kimmich. These seem the most secure options who have a strong chance of winning but it doesn’t matter if they don’t.

Others are more interesting/risky. Coman will be pushing for a recall ahead of Perisic. Coman can easily win and he’s had his price knocked right down to £1.70 on a bid. He’s burned me too many times as he is FI’s own Mr Glass and gets injured a lot. But he can win for sure.

Thiago has uncertainty as transfer speculation is live and he probably will leave. But right now he is pulling all the strings and remains a likely winner, either with a goal or on baseline alone in a tight game.

I like the pick because I think even if he moves he’s almost certainly too good to go anywhere but a top tier club. And nobody would sign him if they didn’t want him to play his natural game which happens to be exceptionally suited to FI.

For Lyon, barring one of the greatest CL upsets of all time, we are probably relying on IPD. But IPD ain’t bad right now.

That’s ok because lots of them are worth holding anyway. Chiefly Depay, Dembelé and Aouar

Emerging too is 20 year old midfielder Caqueret who I am sure I will cover more in pre-season scouting. He’s been establishing in the team and if stars leave he could be set for a bigger role next season. 

Good potential player – looks quite similar to Aouar in that he won’t score big often but on his day he can put up very big scores. And young emerging talent will always get more attention than it has a right to just for starting games.

Cornet is also a good punt pick for some IPD in this game and for the restart of Ligue 1. I’ve long liked him on the site but he has been held back by an odd positional shift to wing back. He can nick a goal and in normal games he might have enough for a dividend win but I suspect he won’t this time.

Lyon are not going to be getting enough of the ball to build any kind of respectable baseline. In fact even if they win, Bayern may still win the dividends!

Champions League Final Preview

Whoever makes it through will face PSG in the Final and the interesting thing about this day is the Final is not a clear match day.

4 Ligue 1 matches will take place earlier in the day including Monaco and Nice who have some decent performance players. There could be social media tears.

Of course those in the Final get a 1.25x bonus to their scores which is a lot. But if any of the Ligue 1 players have a big day they can still win. 

We’ve seen plenty of winners this month with 150-250 scores and that’s easily acheivable on a normal match day. 

There isn’t a great deal we can do about this directly. But we can abuse the fact that the new seasons are really not that far away and only place bets that can’t really lose because it’s not all riding on one match.

We shouldn’t be making bets where the player MUST win in the CL final anyway. Otherwise we might as well just use the traditional bookies.

This is unusual as in a normal year we will have to care much more about the risk of our players getting knocked out. I don’t care about this at all right now with the new seasons just weeks away. 

We can however use it to exploit very short term traders who sell a good player because they didn’t win in the Final or similar. I generally leave punting for single games to the mugs because we can never really predict who will win one game. We can only really predict who is likely to consistently challenge over a series of games.

My picks for PSG remain basically the same as in the Ligue 1 preview. 

Neymar is a really solid premium option and I’d be happy to have him in the portfolio and the way he is playing he is a likely winner in the final. The key with premiums is just don’t let them eat up too much of your portfolio value. But having 10-15% in them in total is fine.

Marquinhos a solid choice too as above. I would not expect a third goal but he can win it on baseline alone on quiet days.

Di Maria is a very likely winner but again, the lack of a contract makes it treacherous as per the Ligue 1 preview. I was happier with it then because there was a lot of CL ahead. I’d still be comfortable going for this or holding him but I think it remains one for the more confident/advanced traders at least until he sews up a new contract.

I would say Icardi except I am not sure he will start. Still, the price has dropped and Ligue 1 is ahead so I actually think this is fine. Even if he comes on from the bench he can bag some IPD and you can carry him into a new Ligue 1 season at boosted dividend rates.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019
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