Champions League Knockout Stage- 2/24/21
Tuesday’s games were a success for Karma nation as we rolled with Mendy and Chelsea’s defense while stacking the Bayern/Lazio attack. Now we get the last of the first legs of the first knockout stage of the Champions League on Wednesday and we get some really great games that both kick off at 3pm EST Let’s start by breaking down the current odds:
Atalanta (+130) vs. Real Madrid
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Manchester City (-345)
-After Tuesday’s games, the away teams are 5-1 so far in the knockout stage. Only Porto won as a home team vs. Juventus. This slate sees Atalanta as a slight home favorite and Man City as a large away favorite. So far Spanish teams are 0-3 in this round, English sides are 2-0, German sides are 2-0 and Italian sides are 0-2, so take that info as you wish. Let’s jump into our Game by Game Breakdown for more info.
Atalanta vs. Real Madrid-
So like I stated earlier… Spanish sides have struggled, and so too have Italian sides, so does that mean they’ll draw here? Real Madrid is coming into this match in fine form, with 3 straight shut-out wins in La Liga. While Atalanta hasn’t lost in the month of February (3 straight wins and 2 draws).
So this side is interesting to me, they sold Papu Gomez to Sevilla at the transfer window and haven’t missed a beat. The striking duo of Duvan Zapata ($21/$7900) and Luis Muriel ($16/$8700) has been on absolute fire in Serie A. They each had a goal and an assist vs. Napoli on the weekend. Matteo Pessina ($6/$4400) has stepped into that 10 role and has performed pretty well (2 goals vs. Napoli in the Coppa Italia this month). He is super cheap and a nice extra piece for the Atalanta stacks. Cristian Romero ($14/$4100) is a CB with goal upside as well as excellent defensive stats. Robin Gosens ($13/$5000) is a wing back in this system and is very successful going forward, as he is in good form too, scoring on the weekend as well. Rafael Toloi ($8/$2600) is a very cheap defender who shouldn’t come off early (he’s the captain), which is a nice bonus. Pierluigi Gollini ($11/$5100) performed well in the two starts he got in the group stage (shutouts vs. Ajax and Liverpool), but he hasn’t been as sharp of late, allowing 6 goals in his last 4 outings.
Madrid have had a very rocky season for their standards, they got off to a very slow start in La Liga and in the group stage as well (dropping that shocker at home to Shaktar Donetsk). Since then they’ve rounded into better form and sit 2nd in their league on the heels of 4 straight wins. The big issue here though is they will be without Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard, Marcelo, and Sergio Ramos for this game and that is a large void to fill leadership wise and skill wise. Vinicius Junior ($19/$5400) and Mariano ($15/$5200) will be leading the line for this club and they are extremely affordable on DK. I definitely will have a little Real there, probably not on FD. Toni Kroos ($17/$7300) has full set piece duty but is never a sexy play as his involvement in open play is just not enough. Casemiro ($14/$5000) has more value on FD due to tackles won/ interceptions. Defensively, Nacho ($11/$2900) is nice CB value for an underdog (albeit slight). Ferland Mendy ($9/$3800) is a full back but he does just about nothing offensively. (11 crosses in 6 group games, but 12 fouls drawn and 11 interceptions). Thibault Courtois ($9/$4600) is one of my least favorite players as you may have heard before. He was a whiny kid when he wiggled his way away from Stamford Bridge and since then he’s been pretty average at best, so that makes me feel good. I will not be on him Wednesday, his defense is so beat up and this Atalanta team is no joke.
Prediction: Atalanta 3 – Real Madrid 1
Borussia M’Gladbach vs. Manchester City-
The hottest team in the world heads to Budapest, Hungary to take on the German side since Covid rules won’t allow travel into Germany. Man City has won 18 straight matches… 18, and hasn’t lost in 25 games. That is unbelievably impressive, and some of that was without their midfield magician De Bruyne. Meanwhile Gladbach are winless in their last 3 with just a draw vs. Wolfsburg in that run.
They currently sit 8th in the Bundesliga and are in some serious trouble right now. They still have some very good players on this squad but this will not be an easy matchup vs. this City squad who has only given up 15 goals in 25 league matches. Alassane Plea ($17/$5800) is lead striker on this squad and had 5 goals in the group stage. Jonas Hofmann ($11/$6500) takes most set pieces and is very cheap on FD if you like to risk some free kicks for Gladbach. Lars Stindl ($14/$6100) is the only other offensive option I like for this team; he had 2 goals and 2 assists in the group stage and is a nice value play on both sites. Matthias Ginter ($8) is only playable on FD and that’s because he is a cheap CB on a big underdog, he will see a ton of action and could rack up clearances a plenty. Nico Elvedi ($11/$2800) is the other CB on the squad and has a more offensive role on set pieces. Yan Sommer ($7/$3800) is the cheapest keeper on the slate and while he should see plenty of shots, City tend to dissect their opponents with quality rather than pelt them with quantity.
Game show voice over voice: “Welcome to another game of… How much Manchester City can we fit in our lineups!!!!” Kevin De Bruyne ($23/$9500) has returned from injury and went just over an hour vs. Arsenal on the weekend. His absence wasn’t really felt as Ilkay Gundogan ($15/$8000) caught absolute fire and destroyed everyone to forget KdB was missing. Gundo is super cheap on FD, and even with KdB back, I think he is in play here. My guess is that Gabriel Jesus ($20/$7500) starts in the middle with Raheem Sterling ($22/$8400) and Phil Foden ($17/$8200) on the wings. Defensively, Joao Cancelo ($14/$5900) has been outstanding this season and while he had an off game vs. Arsenal, this should be a more open game for him to roam forward. Kyle Walker ($9/$4300) is a cheap option to get some offensive power for City from the defense. John Stones ($11/$3400) is pretty cheap considering his CS equity. Ederson ($13/$5800) is goalie of the year, and it’s not even close. He’s been outstanding and the defense of Stones/Dias in the middle has been rock solid.
Prediction: Borussia M’Gladbach 0 – Manchester City 3
I hope you enjoyed this breakdown and will join us on the DFSKarma discord channel and check out our core plays at https://www.dfskarma.com/shop/all/soccer/
-Ram (DFSKarma Soccer Lead)