Last week we looked at the Europa groups – time to turn to the Champions League. 

The Europa and CL have some subtle differences on FI – with positives and negatives to each.

It would be natural to think the CL was the most desirable – but not necessarily on FI. You’ll find a lot of really weak teams in the Europa, definitely in the groups but even in the later knockout rounds. 

We might want to watch tight contests but on FI we want our big hitters to be smashing minnows 5 or 6 nil to rack up those monster scores. And it will happen frequently.

It will happen less frequently in the CL where competition is tougher, certainly in the later knockout rounds.

However to counter that you’ve obviously got the increased prestige of the competition which may bring media wins and also has that little X factor – traders get excited for big CL games in a way they don’t quite get up for the Europa.

If in the Europa I’m primarily looking for those outrageous mismatches between strong and weak teams, in CL players I’m often looking at something slightly different.

I call this a “full season fit”. Basically, players that can win domestically but also have European competition and ideally Euro 2021 involvement too. If they can add a possible good transfer at the end of that? Icing on the cake.

What we are looking for here is a player who, come 4-6 months from now has stacked up a ton of obvious reasons to own them. They’ll be winning domestically, or at least looking close to dividends. They’ll be through the European groups. And if/when they get knocked out – they have Euro 2021 involvement to give people a reason to want them.

And if they also have that transfer rumour… they become what I call a “hybrid” pick – a player that ticks every box. Imagine a situation where a decent performance player has been winning, is still in the CL knockouts, plays for a big national side and has a potential transfer. 

This snowballs so many reasons to own them later that it should really push the price. And when one of those reasons falls over – you will have something else to fall back on – we aren’t betting on just one positive event happening we have many ways we can win – which is why we our probability of winning is very high.

This is what we’re looking for in “Core” key strategy players this season. The CL will have plenty of them. But, we’ll also look for those straight up mismatches and shorter term picks too.

As with the Europa I’m going to split these into:

Key Players: Longer term holds with performance suitability and a good fit for the full season ahead, including being expected to challenge for dividends in European competition.

Punts: Not players I’d want to hold too long necessarily – but can be a good short term pick in the lead up to or during European ties. Could be a veteran with a high chance of winning.

High Potential Youth: Decent long term investments as quality youth players at value prices, with a reasonable chance of making an impact in European competition.

Champions League - Groups

Group A - Bayern, Atlético Madrid, Salzburg, Lokomotiv Moskva

Bayern and Atletico should have no problem coming through this group, heavy favourites in both betting and algorithm (see here)  

Salzburg can be a good source of future transfer picks so good performances for young players may get interest, even if they don’t do that well in the group. 


A true performance powerhouse and I couldn’t imagine not covering at least a few of their players this season. The hardest part is predicting which of them will win and the only good solution I’ve found is to own a good spread of them.

Key Players: Gnabry, Kimmich, Lewandowski, Goretzka, Pavard, Neuer  

Punts: Costa, Muller, Coman (If starting), Choupo-Moting (If Lewandowski injured), Tolisso, 

Youth: Richards, Zirkzee, Kouassi,  

Atletico Madrid

The opposite of Bayern – the Wanda Metropolitano is where hope for big performance scores go to die. Still, should progress comfortably.

Key Players: None

Punts: Suarez, Thomas Lemar, Koke

Youth: Joao Felix (as per scouting he has been improving recently… if that continued I might get interested but I’m not totally convinced yet for the price). 


Should go out and opportunties to score big are probably limited to playing Locomotive Moscow. They do have the home leg of that tie first so it may be better to own sooner rather than later if you are going to.

Good candidates to finish 3rd and drop into the Europa though and this is no bad thing. 

Key Players: Szoboszlai, Daka. (Both likely to get transfer rumours, Daka is more IPD where as Szoboszlai is more likely to win – a genuine potentially FI suitable player). 

Punts: Mwepu (Capable of a monster score maybe 1 in 10 games? Cheap though could work). Sekou Koita (IPD/for potential transfer rumour mainly).

Youth: All the above players would also fit here!

Locomotive Moscow

The expected whipping boys. Don’t hope for big performance scores – but some do have transfer rumours. 

Key Players: None. 

Punts: Anton Miranchuk, Fedor Smolov, 

Youth: None. 

Group B: Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Internazionale, Mönchengladbach

A tough group but Real and Inter are expected through. Shakhtar and Gladbach should fight it out for 3rd and the Europa spot. Shakhtar the weakest side by some way.

Real Madrid

As per Scouting – really hard side to pin down with rotation and injuries and frequent tactical changes. Not the side they used to be but are still grinding out results. Hopefully we see more selection consistency in the coming games.

Key Players: Hazard, Kroos, Vinicius Jr, Carvajal, Ramos

Punts: Benzema, Asensio, Isco, Marcelo (if starting)

Youth: Rodrygo, Odegaard, 

Shakhtar Donestsk

Group whipping boys. Limited interest beyond a transfer choice.

Key Players: 
Teté. (Looks genuinely performance suitable and as a young Brazlian has a little stardust. Gets big transfer rumours. Could be rotated or only appear off the bench in the Europa. Cheap right now I quite like him as a longer term hold.)  

Punts: None

Youth: None


Strong bet for a good run in either the CL or Europa if they drop down. Plenty of good players to choose from.

Key Players: Sanchez, Lukaku, Barella, Hakimi (see scouting – little concerned about his initial performances for Inter). 

Punts: Martinez (Still not super keen as per scouting because he’s so poor for FI performance but it looks a lot better after the price drop). Eriksen (if he ever starts), Perisic, Sensi, Kolarov, 

Youth: None (Esposito left on loan). 


This group should be a struggle for Gladbach – best thing that can happen for them is to drop into the Europa most likely.

Key Players: Plea, Hofmann, 

Punts: Bensebaini, Thuram

Youth: Neuhaus, Hannes Wolf, 

Group C: Porto, Manchester City, Olympiacos, Marseille

If City do not qualify from this soft group it’s a disaster. 2nd is more competitive – on paper it should be Porto but Marseille could challenge. Either way – one or the other should drop into the Europa. Olympiakos the weakest team. 

Manchester City

Should be a walkover and City players could put up some strong scores in this group. 

Key Players: Sterling, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Cancelo, 

Punts: Jesus, Rodri, Gundogan, Laporte, Zinchenko

Youth: Foden, Torres, Garcia, 


A real struggle to find suitable targets outside of a long shot cheap punt. However, given Porto could win a game or two those who do that may get rewarded at least with some decent IPD. 

Key Players: None

Punts: Corona, Anderson, Marega, 

Youth: None


Tough group – perhaps the best thing is for them to drop to the Europa. 

Key Players: Payet, Thauvin, 

Punts: Rongier (if desperate for a punt, I would wait perhaps for an easier knockout game with less competition before trying too hard on long shot punts like this). 

Youth: Cuisance


Can’t see anyone worth going for here for any reason.

Key Players: None

Punts: None

Youth: None

Group D: Liverpool, Ajax, Atalanta, Midtjylland

Interesting group. Midtjylland are just about the softest fixture you’ll ever play in the CL and the other three teams have the firepower to generate some monster scores there.

A tight contest between Liverpool, Ajax and Atalanta – but barring total disaster whoever misses out on qualification at least drops into the Europa. Liverpool should comfortably qualify but Ajax and Atalanta are no push overs and should battle hard for second. 

Atalanta are slightly favoured over Ajax in both algorithm and betting. 


Key Players: Salah (really improving, see Scouting), Thiago, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Van Dijk, Alisson, 

Punts: Jota, Mané, Keita, 

Youth: Curtis Jones, Minamino (looks much more viable after the price slump). 


Always a rich source of transfer speculation – and often have the ability to compete in performance scoring in the here and now too. 

Key Players: Neres, Tagliafico, 

Punts: Promes, Tadic, 

Youth: Gravenberch, Ekkelenkamp, 


A superb performance side – can produce cricket scores. Main problem – their two best players are getting old. Early season is the best time to make the most of veterans, we might just be wary of holding them too long into the season.

Key Players: Gomez, Ilicic, Pasalic

Punts: Zapata, Gosens

Youth: S Lammers


Good luck, Midtjylland fans. 

Key Players: None. 

Punts: None. 

Youth: None.

Group E: Sevilla, Chelsea, Krasnodar, Rennes

Chelsea and Sevilla favourites to progress. Rennes are the outsiders and Krasnodar are very soft opponents.


Key Players: Werner, Havertz, Ziyech, Chilwell,  

Punts: Jorginho, 

Youth: Hudson-Odoi, 


Key Players: Suso, Ocampos 

Punts: En-Nesyri, El Haddadi, de Jong, Rakitic

Youth: None


I’m not sure I’d really go for punts on this outside of the Krasnodar game, and perhaps if they drop to the Europa later. Terrier the best prospect – if he puts in some eye catching performances he could revive his career.

Key Players: None

Punts: Hunou, Niang, Bourigeaud 

Youth: Terrier, 


Yeah… no.

Key Players: None.

Punts: None.

Youth: None.

Group F: Zenit, Dortmund, Lazio, Club Brugge

Should be a gift for Dortmund – players could rack up big scores here. Lazio should be runner up with Zenit dropping into the Europa and Brugge bottoming the group. In theory.

Borussia Dortmund

Key Players: Sancho, Brandt (though having pitch time trouble right now), Guerreiro, 

Punts: Emre Can, Reus, Thorgan, Meunier, 

Youth: Reyna (Not on FI), Bellingham (See scouting – more minutes than expected but are early good numbers fading? Getting tricky this one). 


Just one target really – if you can find one who has a shot in a shot fixture like vs Brugge plus a transfer rumour it might be worth it.

Key Players: Malcom (Once one of Europe’s hottest properties now in exile in Russia – will likely get transfer rumours at some stage. Performance suitable and cheap). 

Punts: None

Youth: None


A very settled side… not difficult to know the main men here.

Key Players: Immobile, Alberto, 

Punts: Milinkovic-Savic, 

Youth: None

Club Brugge

Key Players: None

Punts: Vanaken (Beautiful performance numbers. Will he get to show them in this group? Tough ask). 

Youth: Diatta, Dennis (but neither actually on FI! Mentioned in case they get IPO’d.)

Group G: Juventus, Barcelona, Dynamo Kyiv, Ferencváros

A clash of two titans here but it should just be a contest to see who finishes 1st or 2nd. Tough games when facing each other but in Dynamo they have a really weak opponent to bully. And even weaker – Ferencvaros.

Should be some big scores coming out of this group and holders of Juventus / Barcelona players will be happy with this draw.


Key Players: Ronaldo, Dybala, Sandro, Szczesny, 

Punts: Morata, Ramsey (if playing), 

Youth: Chiesa, Kulusevski, McKennie, Demiral,  


Key Players: Messi, Coutinho, Alba,

Punts: Griezmann (Could be Key but struggling in early season), Pjanic, 

Youth: Fati, Dembelé, Trincao, Dest 

Dynamo Kiev

Only really one name to consider

Key Players: Tsygankov (performance suitable young player – should get big transfer rumours at some stage again. Could do well in the games vs Ferencvaros.)

Punts: None

Youth: None


No. Just no.

Key Players: None.

Punts: None

Youth: None

Group H: Paris, Manchester United, Leipzig, İstanbul Başakşehir

PSG heavy favourites in both algorithm and betting – makes sense. Manchester United favourites to qualify in the betting but the algorithm gives Leipzig the better chance.

On current form I’d have to agree with the algorithm – but the mood on a team can change with just a few results. 

It’s a tight group – but holders from these teams can console themselves with the fact that Basaksehir are likely to get thrashed. 

Big points scoring opportunity for teams facing them – and PSG, Manchester United and Leipzig should at least get into the Europa knockouts barring absolute disaster.


Key Players: Neymar, Di Maria, Marquinhos, Navas

Punts: Icardi, Rafinha (Maybe, will monitor first games), Sarabia, 

Youth: Moise Kean (Interesting IPD option now as an Icardi back up… with the price having crashed this is no longer the madness it used to be), 

Note: Mbappé an obvious omission but… he’s just not that strong and certainly not strong enough for the money. It would be in the latter stages of the CL where he’d be more likely to do some damage with more limited competition. Can always pull out a hatrick but… long odds to bet on for a high price. It’s really more about a transfer as to whether his price can sustain. 

Manchester United

Key Players: Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, 

Punts: Telles, Cavani, Martial, De Beek, Pogba (Getting less silly the more the price drops but… still not keen)

Youth: Greenwood (price questionable… even after a drop. Not an obvious mistake anymore after a price drop but not brilliant value either).

RB Leipzig

Key Players: Olmo, Angelino, Upamecano, 

Punts: Poulsen, Sabitzer, Forsberg (if starting), 

Youth: Hwang Hee-Chan, Kluivert, Nkunku



I’m running out of ways to say no. 

Key Players: None. 

Punts: None. 

Youth: None.

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