The second legs of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 are well and truly underway, with Erling Haaland and Cristiano Ronaldo having contrasting evenings as Dortmund and Porto booked their spots in the last eight of the competition.
Last Night’s Action
There were nine goals across last night’s two matches, which might give us an indicator of what to expect from now on. Both teams who went into those ties with leads held on to them.
Dortmund were more impressive than the 2-2 scoreline gives them credit for.
Erling Haaland (11.1m) scored his 20th goal in just 14 Champions League matches, making him the fastest player to that milestone by 10 games and the highest U21 goalscorer in the competition’s history. As he showed both last night against Sevilla and on Saturday against Bayern Munich, whoever the Black and Yellow face next, he’ll be the favourite to get on the scoresheet.
Dortmund’s qualification for the quarter-finals should be all the more impressive as they were missing Jadon Sancho (10m) and Raphael Guerreiro (6.1m), arguably their two most important players after Haaland. Their attacking prowess and defensive foibles were clear to see and there’s every chance that they’ll be involved in a high-scoring quarter-final whoever they face next, as they continue their domestic and European resurgence after a poor start to the season. Investing in Haaland and Sancho will reap rewards, whilst Marco Reus (8.4m) continued to be strong creatively but have a torrid time in front of goal.
We could discuss Juventus’ failure to reach the quarter-finals, but as they’re no longer in the competition, they have no bearing on our future Fantasy prospects. Porto, on the other hand, put in a performance of incredible resilience at both ends to secure their last eight spot.
Pepe (5m) rolled back the years with a vintage defensive showing, collecting four points from 12 balls recovered, while Sergio Oliveira (6.7m) continued his strong attacking form in the competition with a penalty and a free-kick.
Going forward, limiting investment in Porto’s assets is probably the best bet as they’re unlikely to come up against many more opponents as disjointed and off-form as Juventus were over the two legs. However, Oliveira is the main man on set pieces and, for his price, should continue to offer a decent return on investment.
Barcelona head to Paris this evening, while Liverpool and RB Leipzig are set to battle it out in Budapest once again.
Barcelona have seen an upturn in their domestic form of late after a switch to a 3-5-2 system, with Jordi Alba (5.9m) and Sergi Dest (5.4m) looking particularly strong. However, at 4-1 down, they have a mountain to climb and know that they will have to attack in volume from kick-off. PSG can therefore sit back, absorb the pressure and allow Kylian Mbappe (11m) to use his pace on the counter to put this tie to bed once and for all. There will be goals in this tie for sure and Mbappe should score well, as he did at the Nou Camp.
If Barcelona are to salvage anything from this game, all their hopes will rest on Lionel Messi‘s (12.1m) shoulders. But PSG should be set up well to keep him as quiet as possible and it’s been shown that he’s not necessarily built to carry a team in as sticky a situation as Barcelona currently are.
Despite their dire domestic form, Liverpool take a 2-0 lead into their game against RB Leigzig. The Bundesliga outfit are fresh from a 3-0 win in the league and a 2-0 win over Wolfsburg in the DFB-Pokal, however, whereas Liverpool have lost their last six home games in a row.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side showed last season that they’re capable of big performances in Europe when it matters and I expect this to be no different. Buoyed by the strong domestic form of Alexander Sorloth (6.6m) and Christopher Nkunku (7.6m), they will go after Liverpool’s inexperienced and largely incapable defence and should be able to claw back a win from this one. Angelino (5.7m) will be sorely missed on the left-hand side, however.
In terms of captaincy, Mbappe looks the standout option once again. He’s born to play on the counter-attack and has already shown that he’s too strong for these Barcelona defenders. Nkunku is an outside shout for the captaincy due to his domestic form.
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