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The final international break of the year is almost done and normality can return – or what passes for ‘normality’ in this unpredictable 2020/21 campaign, anyway.
There’s certainly going to be no let-up in the madness of it all over the next month and a bit, with many clubs in action twice a week right the way through until the New Year.
But how will that affect your Football Index chances? Potentially rather well, as it happens.
For those that don’t know, Football Index (FI) is a kind of stock market where people use real money to bet on football.
You buy shares in individual players whose value can rise or fall depending on their performance both on and off the field.
I’m actively using FI this season with more than a nod to Fantasy Premier League (FPL), seeing which aspects of each game marry up, and which don’t.
Whatever type of football game you might currently be playing, this time of the year is always a busy one. But in keeping with the, let’s just say, different nature of this season, you’d need an ‘insanely’ in front of that ‘busy’ to adequately describe things from now until the start of 2021.
This could be a good time to place a bet in Football Index, then, with In-Play Dividends (IPDs) awarded for goals, assists and clean sheets for the first 30 days that you own a share in a player.
Unlike FPL, Football Index managers can earn performance dividends from European competitions, meaning the three rounds of UEFA Champions League and Europa League fixtures still to be played between now and early December could bring in extra earnings while also boosting share price values.
So there’s plenty of opportunity to find some good earners from the seven Premier League clubs who are playing on the continent over the next few weeks: these sides will, depending on the TV schedule, face up to nine fixtures in the 30 days from Gameweek 9 inclusive.
Domestically, the Manchester teams have decent schedules over the next few weeks, although they do face each other in Gameweek 12.
City’s home matches look particularly inviting, with Burnley, Fulham, West Brom and Newcastle to come before the year’s end.
Ferran Torres (£1.56) has been used sparingly by Pep Guardiola since his summer move, but he announced himself to many with a hat-trick for Spain against Germany this week.
Someone with even fewer Premier League minutes (109 v Torres’ 239) is Sergio Aguero (£1.38).
The striker seems to be recovering well from a hamstring injury picked up at West Ham last month and although Guardiola will have to manage his pitch-time when he returns, his proven pedigree and relative freshness could mean he has a big role to play over the festive fixture pile-up.
Over at United, their winless start to the league season at home will take some of the shine off an otherwise solid schedule.
If you’ve got the money, the ever-reliable Bruno Fernandes (£6.63) is expensive, but he’s started every league match (and two of three Champions League games) this campaign and has five goals and three assists to his name domestically.
And if you want fresher blood, Alex Telles (£1.71) seems to have put his COVID-19 issues behind him and could finally get a good run in the side with Luke Shaw currently out with a hamstring injury.
Another under-used player has been Chelsea midfielder Hakim Ziyech (£3.00).
He’s now fit and firing, with a goal and three assists from his first two league starts for the Blues, and looks under-priced.
As for the final member of the Champions League contingent, Liverpool, their defensive crisis might tempt a trade for centre-half Nathaniel Phillips (£0.52), although the Reds have managed just one clean sheet in the league all season.
Instead, it could be a case of turning misfortune – the positive COVID test involving Mohamed Salah (£3.11) – into success.
The Egyptian is currently in self-isolation, meaning he won’t be available for the Reds in the short-term.
He is, however, not showing any symptoms, which suggests he’ll be fit and ready to play once he’s clear of the virus.
Salah is having an excellent season, with eight goals in the league already. An enforced lay-off could well mean he’ll be fresh and in-form just when opponents are in desperate need of a rest.
Keep an eye on Jurgen Klopp’s virtual media gatherings, then, for word on the Egyptian’s return – Salah has been a prolific performer over the festive period in the last few years and he could rack up plenty of goals and assists in a multi-game, 30-day IPD window.
He’s also bound to get plenty of coverage in the press as his recovery is monitored, which could lead to some Media Dividends.
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