Ranking Tuesday’s Champions League Soccer Top Fantasy Picks from 1 to 9 (No Goalkeepers).

1 – Erling Haaland – Borussia Dortmund (vs Club Brugge)

2 – Marcus Rashford – Manchester United (vs Istanbul Basaksehir)

3 – Timo Werner – Chelsea (vs Rennes)

4 – Cristiano Ronaldo – Juventus (vs Ferencvarosi TC)

5 – Kylian Mbappe – Paris Saint-Germain (vs RB Leipzig)

6 – Anthony Martial – Manchester United (vs Istanbul Basaksehir)

7 – Luuk de Jong – Sevilla (vs FK Krasnodar)

8 – Neymar – Paris Saint-Germain (vs RB Leipzig)

9 – Ousmane Dembele – Barcelona (vs Dynamo Kiev)

Happy drafting!

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Ranking Saturday’s German Football Top Fantasy Picks from Mönchengladbach vs RB Leipzig 1 to 9 (No Goalkeepers).

1 – Marcel Sabitzer – Leipzig

2 – Alassane Plea – Mönchengladbach

3 – Lars Stindl – Mönchengladbach

4 – Marcus Thuram – Mönchengladbach

5 – Dani Olmo – Leipzig

6 – Breel Embolo – Mönchengladbach

7 – Patrick Herrmann – Mönchengladbach

8 – Christopher Nkunku – Leipzig

9 – Emil Forsberg – Leipzig

Happy drafting!

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Ranking Saturday’s La Liga Top Fantasy Picks from Athletic Bilbao vs Sevilla 1 to 9 (No Goalkeepers).

1 – Luuk de Jong – Sevilla

2 – Unai Lopez – Athletic Bilbao

3 – Ivan Rakitic – Sevilla

4 – Williams – Athletic Bilbao

5 – Munir El Haddadi – Sevilla

6 – Sergio Escudero – Sevilla

7 – Jesus Navas – Sevilla

8 – Youssef En-Nesyri – Sevilla

9 – Diego Carlos – Sevilla

Happy drafting!

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Ranking Saturday’s EPL Top Fantasy Picks from 1 to 9 (No Goalkeepers).

1 – Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City (vs Sheffield)

2 – Mo Salah – Liverpool (vs West Ham)

3 – Sadio Mane – Liverpool (vs West Ham)

4 – Riyad Mahrez – Manchester City (vs Sheffield)

5 – Timo Werner – Chelsea (vs Burnley)

6 – Raheem Sterling – Manchester City (vs Sheffield)

7 – Kai Havertz – Chelsea (vs Burnley)

8 – Phil Foden – Manchester City (vs Sheffield)

9 – Christian Pulisic – Chelsea (vs Burnley)

Happy drafting!

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Ranking Friday’s EPL Top Fantasy Picks from 1 to 9 (No Goalkeepers).

1 – Wilfried Zaha – Crystal Palace

2 – Raul Jimenez – Wolves

3 – Pedro Neto – Wolves

4 – Michy Batshuayi – Crystal Palace

5 – Andros Townsend – Crystal Palace

6 – Daniel Podence – Wolves

7 – Romain Saiss – Wolves

8 – Joao Moutinho – Wolves

9 – Luka Milivojevic – Crystal Palace

Happy drafting!

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Ranking Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League Top Fantasy Picks from 1 to 9 (No Goalkeepers).

1 – Lionel Messi – Barcelona (vs Ferencvarosi)

2 – Neymar – PSG (vs Manchester Untd)

3 – Kylian Mbappe – PSG (vs Manchester Untd)

4 – Philippe Coutinho – Barcelona (vs Ferencvarosi)

5 – Sardar Azmoun – Zenit St. Petersbourg (vs Club Brugge)

6 – Angelino – RB Leipzig (vs Istanbul Basaksehir)

7 – Sergino Dest – Barcelona (vs Ferencvarosi)

8 – Yussuf Poulsen – RB Leipzig (vs Istanbul Basaksehir)

9 – Christopher Nkunku – RB Leipzig (vs Istanbul Basaksehir)

Happy Drafting!

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Ranking Today’s Top MLS Fantasy Picks from 1 to 9 without goalkeepers

1 – Diego Rossi (F) – LAFC (vs SJ)

2 – Diego Valeri (M) – Portland Timbers (vs VAN)

3 – Alejandro Pozuelo (M) – Toronto FC (vs CLB)

4 – Nicolas Lodeiro (M) – Seattle Sounders (vs LAG)

5 – Kacper Przybylko (F) – Philadelphia Union (vs MIA)

6 – Pedro Santos (M) – Columbus Crew (vs TOR)

7 – Gustavo Bou (F) – New England Revolution (vs DCU)

8 – Franco Jara (F) – FC Dallas (vs ORL)

9 – Cristian Pavon (F) – Los Angeles Galaxy (vs SEA)

Top Goalkeeper Pick

GK – Andre Blake – Philadelphia Union (vs MIA)

Happy drafting!

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Ranking Today’s Top EPL Fantasy Picks from 1 to 9 without goalkeepers

1 – Son Heung-Min (F) – Tottenham Hotspur (vs NEW)

2 – Raheem Sterling (F) – Manchester City (vs LEI)

3 – Kevin De Bruyne (M) – Manchester City (vs LEI)

4 – Phil Foden (M) – Manchester City (vs LEI)

5 – Riyad Mahrez (M) – Manchester City (vs LEI)

6 – Harry Kane (F) – Tottenham Hotspur (vs NEW)

7 – Matt Doherty (D) – Tottenham Hotspur (vs NEW)

8 – Raul Jimenez (F) – Wolverhampton Wanderers (vs WHU)

9 – Pedro Neto (M) – Wolverhampton Wanderers (vs WHU)

Top Goalkeeper Pick

GK – Hugo Lloris – Tottenham Hotspur (vs NEW)

Happy drafting!

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Ranking Tomorrow’s Top EPL Fantasy Picks from 1 to 9 without goalkeepers

1 – Timo Werner (F) – Chelsea (vs WBA)

2 – Wilfried Zaha (F) – Crystal Palace (vs EVE)

3 – Dominic Calvert-Lewin (F) – Everton (vs CP)

4 – Bruno Fernandes (M) – Manchester United (vs BHA)

5 – Marcus Rashford (F) – Manchester United (vs BHA)

6 – Tammy Abraham (F) – Chelsea (vs WBA)

7 – Anthony Martial (F) – Manchester United (vs BHA)

8 – James Rodriguez (M) – Everton (vs CP)

9 – Olivier Giroud (F) – Chelsea (vs WBA)

Top Goalkeeper Pick

G – David de Gea – Manchester United (vs BHA)

Happy drafting!

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

MLS Fantasy Picks ranked from 1 to 6

1 – Diego Rossi (F) – LAFC

2 – Kacper Przybylko (F) – Philadelphia Union

3 – Raul Ruidiaz (F) – Seattle Sounders

4 – Franco Jara (F) – FC Dallas

5 – Cristian Pavon (F) – L.A. Galaxy

6 – Gyasi Zardes (F) – Columbus Crew

Happy drafting!

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Pictured: Kepa Arrizabalaga
Source: Bryn Lennon / Getty Images Europe

Tottenham Hotspur-Chelsea Preview

If drama was a category in the Premier League table, Chelsea would be runaway winners this term.

After an outlandish moment in the Carabao Cup finals in which Kepa Arrizabalaga defied manager Maurizio Sarri and refused to be substituted, the question ahead of Wednesday’s derby at Stamford Bridge against Tottenham Hotspur is whether the world’s most expensive goalkeeper will be between the sticks.

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Arrizabalaga had been battling a hamstring problem that made him a question mark for Sunday’s match against Manchester City, and it appeared he had aggravated the injury making a save in the final minutes of extra time and even sought out medical attention. Sarri, with an eye on the impending penalty kicks in the scoreless match, told backup Willy Caballero to get ready to enter the game.

The fourth official held up the board to signal the substitution, only for Arrizabalaga – signed by Chelsea for £72 million before the start of the season – to refuse to come off the pitch. Captain Cesar Azpilicueta did not intervene, and only David Luiz made any movement in his keeper’s direction. After a back-and-forth between Arrizabalaga and the Chelsea bench, the keeper remained in the match and sent Sarri into a furious rage while Caballero stewed in embarrassment.

In the interim between the end of extra time and the penalty kicks, Sarri had to be restrained by defender Antonio Rudiger from confronting Arrizabalaga and had barely any interaction with his side before they lined up for penalties. Arrizabalaga made a valiant effort to redeem himself in the spot kicks, nearly stopping Sergio Aguero’s attempt in the second round and successfully punching away Leroy Sane’s shot in the next round to give Chelsea a lifeline.

Luiz, though, cannoned the next attempt off the woodwork, and that was enough daylight for Manchester City to produce a victory, with Arrizabalaga guessing wrong on Raheem Sterling’s match-winning attempt. With Sarri denied his first trophy at any level as a manager in such dramatic and bewildering fashion, all of the post-match talk centered around whether Sarri has lost the dressing room and if there would be any repercussions for Arrizabalaga going forward.

Both used the word “misunderstanding” in separate statements in explaining themselves, and Chelsea fined Arrizabalaga one week’s worth of wages for his insubordination. In his statement, Sarri said his keeper “realises he made a big mistake in the way he reacted” and added “he has apologised to me, his team-mates and the club.”

The apology, though, offers no insight into whether Arrizabalaga will be in goal for this contest. Football media throughout England have been sent into overdrive because of the incident, with some publications talking of dressing-room rifts with players in support of Caballero and the club desperate to avoid another bust-up similar to the one between Antonio Conte and Diego Costa that ultimately contributed to Conte’s demise at Stamford Bridge and Sarri’s arrival.

In the Premier League picture, Chelsea (15-5-6) are sixth in the table on 50 points, three points behind fourth-place Manchester United with a match in hand. The Pensioners are also still vying for a back-door entry into the Champions League via the Europa League, having progressed to the round of 16 opposite Dynamo Kyiv.

Chelsea’s 3-0 second-leg win over Malmo that preceded Sunday’s loss took away some of the sting of their 6-0 battering by City a fortnight ago that prompted a fresh round of inquest regarding Sarri’s future. Those questions will continue until the final whistle of Chelsea’s final match, with the club’s ban on signings the next two transfer windows also playing a key role in the club’s future.

Less than 25 kilometres to the north, Tottenham Hotspur (20-0-7) look to regroup from a lost opportunity to draw closer in the title race. Owning a match in hand on Manchester City last weekend, the Spurs squandered it with a 2-1 defeat at Burnley on Saturday. The loss, coupled with Liverpool’s draw at Manchester United, dropped the Lilywhites six points behind the table-topping Reds with 11 matches to play and five adrift of City for second.

Harry Kane made an instant impact on his return from an eight-game absence due to an ankle injury, scoring a contentious second-half equalizer, but a late breakdown led to a controversial goal for the hosts and an incandescent Mauricio Pochettino blasting referee Mike Dean post-match.

“It’s very disappointing,” Kane told Spurs’ official website. “It was one of those games, a tough battle, a dry pitch, we know how Burnley play, especially at home and it was physical. We did well to get back into it at 1-1 but we couldn’t find the next level to push on and get the win and then unfortunately we conceded again.

“It’s a game we should be winning. We had time off, so we were fresh and we expected to come here and step it up a level and give it a massive push for the rest of the season. Now it puts us behind and in a tough position. It’s a big week to come and we have to move on as best we can.”

Pochettino admitted afterwards he “crossed a line” in confronting Dean, and the FA agreed as it handed down two charges of improper conduct at the Argentine boss on Monday. The charges could bring a touchline ban after this match for Pochettino, who is about to embark on the biggest week of the season for Spurs as they play back-to-back derbies – Tottenham host Arsenal in the third north London grudge match – ahead of their second-leg round of 16 Champions League tie at Borussia Dortmund in which they will try to protect a 3-0 lead earned at Wembley earned a fortnight ago.

One minor point for this match is Dean was taken off fourth official duties for this match due to his tete-a-tete with Pochettino. Dean was moved to the Manchester City-West Ham United match, and Andre Marriner was tabbed as his replacement.

This is the fourth match between the sides this term, with Spurs looking for a measure of revenge after being bounced on penalties after the second leg of the Carabao Cup semifinals at Stamford Bridge on Jan. 24 after failing to protect a one-goal lead from the first leg.

Despite Spurs claiming victories in two of the three matches, the only one they showed clear superiority was in their 3-1 win at Wembley in November when Pochettino opted for a diamond midfield that isolated Jorginho and exploited the Italian in Sarri’s 4-3-3 set-up. In the last match, though, Chelsea claimed a 2-1 victory through goals by N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard. Fernando Llorente’s goal for Spurs created a 2-2 aggregate that resulted in penalties to decide the match.

Last season, Tottenham recorded their first Premier League win in 26 tries (1-9-16) at Stamford Bridge with a 3-1 victory thanks to a brace by Dele Alli.

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Pictured: Paulo Dybala (center) & Cristiano Ronaldo (right)
Source: Getty Images Europe

Atletico ‘inspired’ by possibility of home final

Atletico Madrid and Juventus go head-to-head in the Champions League knock-outs for the first time on Wednesday night.

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The pair both hold unwanted European Cup records – Juventus have finished as runners-up seven times, more than any other team in the competition’s history, while Atletico are the only team to reach three finals without ever winning the tournament.

For the Spanish side though, there is an extra inspiration for victory at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday; should they make it to the final, they will be back in their home stadium which will host the showpiece game for the first time.

“Of course we are inspired by playing a final in our own stadium, in our own city, in front of our own fans,” said manager Diego Simeone. “But it is pointless only to imagine it. The reality will be what we deserve.”

Juventus are running away with Serie A as they chase an eighth straight domestic title, and their 13-point lead over Napoli may well prove unassailable.

That has left their focus strongly on the Champions League – and Paulo Dybala, whose five goals in the competition so far have helped the club to their fifth last-16 clash in a row, thinks they can put that focus to good use and go all the way.

He said: “We’ve got a great squad with some top professionals, who have gained a lot of experience over the course of these years.

“We’re clearly contenders, but we have to go out there and prove it.”

Team news

Diego Costa is in contention to play having returned to action in Atletico’s win at Rayo Vallecano last weekend. But Lucas Hernandez missed that game, and looks unlikely to recover in time for Wednesday.

Juan Cuadrado is missing having been absent with injury since December. Alex Sandro, who missed their last game with Frosinone, may return having trained on Tuesday.

Stats

Atlético Madrid have met Juventus seven times previously in European competition, although five of those matches were played in the Fairs Cup in the 1960s. In fact, Juventus’ last victory against Atlético Madrid dates back to June 1965 in a Fairs Cup semi-final second-leg replay (3-1)

Atlético Madrid and Juventus’ only previous Champions League encounter was in the 2014/15 group stages. Only one goal was scored in the two matches, an Arda Turan winner for Atlético at their home stadium of Vicente Calderón

Atlético Madrid are unbeaten in the Champions League against Italian opposition under manager Diego Simeone (W4 D2). In those six games, they have only conceded one goal, by Kaká in a 4-1 win against AC Milan in March 2014

Atlético Madrid have reached the Champions League knockout stages in five of their six campaigns under manager Diego Simeone. The only exception was last season when they finished third in their Champions League group and went on to win the Europa League

Atlético Madrid are unbeaten in their last 12 home games in the Champions League knockout stages (W7 D5). In fact, they’ve only conceded one goal in their last 10 matches at home in the knockout phase, an Isco strike for Real Madrid in May 2017

Only Atlético Madrid (6) have conceded fewer shots on target from inside their own box than Juventus (9) in this season’s Champions League

Juventus have won four of their last five away games in the knockout stages of the Champions League (D1). Their last defeat dates back to March 2016 in the last-16 second leg against Bayern Munich

Antoine Griezmann has scored or assisted a goal in each of his six Champions League games at the Wanda Metropolitano (6 goals, 3 assists). This season, he’s been directly involved in six of Atlético Madrid’s nine Champions League goals (67%), with four goals and two assists – that’s the highest ratio among the 16 teams left in the competition

Paulo Dybala has scored six goals in his last seven Champions League appearances, that’s more than in his previous 24 appearances in the competition with Juventus (5 goals). All 11 of his goals in the competition have come with his left foot

Juventus’s Cristiano Ronaldo has scored only one goal in his last eight Champions League games; he’d found the net 11 times in his eight previous games. He has failed to score in four of his last five UCL games against Atlético Madrid.

Massimiliano Allegri has reached the knockout stages in each of his nine campaigns as manager in the Champions League. He was a beaten finalist in two of the last four seasons with Juventus.

Prediction

This is another belter. Cristiano Ronaldo is back in Madrid but Atletico don’t give too much away and it will be physical. I must admit that I don’t like watching Atletico Madrid play but I respect them. You could see them getting to 1-0 and then shutting up shop and blocking off Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala and sneaking a result with Antoine Griezmann getting the winner to keep his reputation floating along.

Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks

Pictured: Kevin De Bruyne
Source: Alex Livesey / Getty Image Europe

This is it. The UEFA Champions League kicks back off this week as the knockout rounds are here.

With all four Premier League teams competing in the last 16, three of them (Man City, Liverpool, Tottenham) face Bundesliga opponents over two legs in the coming weeks, while Manchester United square off with Paris Saint-Germain.

Huge clashes between Ajax and Real Madrid, plus Atletico Madrid v. Juventus, Roma v. Porto and Barcelona against Lyon make up a mouthwatering first knockout round.

Below is a prediction of how each of the eight last 16 clashes will go, as Liverpool, Man City, Man United and Spurs all eye deep runs in the competition.

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AS Roma v. FC Porto
First leg: Feb. 12 at Stadio Olimpico
Second leg: Mar. 6 at Dragao
Score prediction – Roma will have too much going forward for Porto and their experience will count here. 4-2 aggregate win to Roma.


Manchester United v. Paris Saint Germain
First leg: Feb. 12 at Old Trafford
Second leg: Mar. 6 at Parc des Princes

Score prediction – Injuries to PSG’s key players is a huge help for United. 3-3 draw on aggregate, United to go through on away goals.


Tottenham Hotspur v. Borussia Dortmund
First leg: Feb. 13, at Wembley
Second leg: Mar. 5 at Signal Iduna Park

Score prediction – Not having Harry Kane and Dele Alli for the first leg hurts, but Spurs will fancy their chances with the duo back for the second leg. Tottenham to win 5-4 on aggregate.


Ajax v. Real Madrid
First leg: Feb. 13, at Johan Cruyff Arena
Second leg: Mar. 5 at Santiago Bernabeu
Score prediction – Given their wobbles all season long, Ajax will aim to end Real’s dominance in the UCL. I just can’t see it happening. 4-1 win on aggregate to Real Madrid.


Liverpool v. Bayern Munich

First leg: Feb. 19 at Anfield
Second leg: Mar. 13 at Allianz Arena
Score prediction – Such a tough tie for Jurgen Klopp‘s men against an improving, and experienced, Bayern. Everyone expects Liverpool to win, but this is so close to call. 4-4 on aggregate, Bayern to win on penalties.


Lyon v. Barcelona
First leg: Feb. 19 at Groupama Stadium

Second leg: Mar. 13 at Nou Camp
Score prediction – Over the past few years Lyon’s youngsters have punched above their weight, but Barcelona look hungry. Messi and Co. will take care of business. 6-2 aggregate win for Barca.


Schalke v. Manchester City
First leg: Feb. 20 at Veltins-Arena
Second leg: Mar. 12 at Etihad Stadium
Score prediction – A tricky test for Pep Guardiola‘s men who are the heavy favorites. Schalke sit in midtable in the Bundesliga and their full attention will be on these games. City’s attack will have too much for them. 5-3 win on aggregate to Man City.


Atletico Madrid v. Juventus
First leg: Feb. 20 at Wanda Metropolitano
Second leg: Mar. 12 at Allianz Stadium
Score prediction – What a tie this promises to be. Two teams used to making deep runs in this competition and Ronaldo returning to try and haunt Atletico again. Diego Simeone’s men have stumbled a few times this season. Juve will get the job done at home in the second leg. 3-2 to Juventus on aggregate.

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Posted in EPL/MLS, Top Fantasy Picks