We’re midway through the penultimate round of matches in the UEFA Champions League group stage, with another eight fixtures taking place tonight.
And all is still to play for in the UEFA Champions League Fantasy game, which allows managers to change their starting XIs and captains – with certain restrictions – following the culmination of the Tuesday matches and before the start of Wednesday’s games.
In this article, we’ll recap last night’s fixtures and summarise the captaincy and substitution options available to UCL Fantasy bosses before this evening’s 17:55 GMT deadline.
Porto and Liverpool both confirmed their places in the knockout stages as a hard-to-predict set of fixtures produced a hard-to-predict series of results. Meanwhile, Atletico and Real Madrid both failed to win and must now face crucial Matchday Six fixtures against their direct rivals for qualification.
LAST NIGHT’S REVIEW
With no better place to start, we’ll begin in Group A.
Lokomotiv Moscow had not conceded more than two in a game having played Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid but fell 3-1 to a Mergim Berisha (€7.2m) brace in Moscow. With Patson Daka (€7.4m) still not back from injury, Berisha proved an ample replacement.
Atlético failed to capitalise on a second-string Bayern Munich side, although Joao Felix (€9m) finally saw a return on his great attacking stats from the doubleheader against Lokomotiv with a goal. Simeone‘s fabled defence have now only kept one clean sheet in their first five games in the competition.
Group B continued to produce surprise after surprise. In the early kick-off, Shakhtar Donestk became only the third team in the last 12 years to do the double over Real Madrid in the group stages, as Zinedine Zidane’s toothless side, bereft of their usual star power, conceded to substitutes Manor Solomon (€5.4m) and Dentinho (€5.4m).
The other match in Group B was comfortably the game of the night, as Inter Milan won their first fixture of the competition so far to give themselves a late chance at qualification. Conte’s defence has conceded two or more goals in four of their five games, so that looks best avoided, although Romelu Lukaku (€10.8m) scored a brace last night to take his tally to 16 goals in his last 17 matches. If anyone can carry Inter to the last 16, it’ll be the big Belgian.
Group leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach continued their scintillating attacking form, as Alassane Plea (€8.4m) notched his fourth and fifth goals of the group stages and had a late equaliser ruled out. Marcus Thuram (€8.7m) also added his fourth assist of the competition.
Group C saw Porto and Manchester City produce a wholly boring goalless draw, with both sides going into half-time with 0.0 xG. Porto collected their fourth Champions League clean sheet on the bounce, with Zaidu Sanusi (€4.8m) adding another eight points to his total of 37. Manchester City’s attack continues to flounder, although Raheem Sterling (€10.5m) missed two big chances and Gabriel Jesus (€9.5m) had a late goal disallowed.
Marseille scored their first goals of the competition to beat a poor Olympiacos side 2-1, thanks to two Dimitri Payet (€7.8m) penalties.
Liverpool qualified for the last 16 at the second time of asking with a 1-0 win over Ajax. Despite Mohamed Salah (€11.6m), Sadio Mane (€11m) and Diogo Jota (€7.7m) all starting, the goal came from Curtis Jones (€5.4m), who looks set for another start next week against Midtjylland. Liverpool have now kept four clean sheets from five games and face the Danish minnows next week, but expect heavy rotation from Jurgen Klopp.
The shock of the evening was perhaps Atalanta failing to beat Midtjylland at home in a must-win game. The Bergamo side will now set up for a winner-takes-all match in Amsterdam next week where goals will certainly be on the menu. After his great start, Duvan Zapata (€9.7m) has now blanked three weeks in a row, although goalscorer Cristian Romero (€4.9m) became the game’s top scorer having played only four matches, with 16 balls recovered adding to his total of 60.
Substitutions and Captaincy
As always, anything around four points or less is normally worth the risk of a substitution.
In the Wednesday night team news, Borussia Dortmund’s Thomas Meunier (€5.3m) is confirmed out injured, with Raphael Guerreiro (€6m) training individually and therefore also a doubt.
Lionel Messi (€12.1m), Philippe Coutinho (€9m) and Marc-Andre ter Stegen (€6m) have all been left at home for the Blaugrauna’s game in Budapest, meanwhile.
RB Leipzig, Juventus and Barcelona have the pick of the fixtures when it comes to captaincy.
For Juve, expect Cristiano Ronaldo (€12m) and Alvaro Morata (€9m) to start up front after the first was rested and the second sent off at the weekend.
Martin Braithwaite (€5.8m) is on penalties for Barcelona and looks set to be their main man, alongside a resurgent Antoine Griezmann (€9.9m).
Erling Haaland (€11.1m) and Jadon Sancho (€10m) will be looking to build on their great form in this competition, likely supported by Gio Reyna (€6.5m).
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