GW 13 – Ones to Watch

Matt: Welcome to our second ‘Midweek Bonus Round’ of the season, with the exciting prospect of a full fixture list in the Champions League on offer, which will be of great interest to the vast majority of you i’m sure. This gameweek has some serious potential by the looks of things!

With that potential in mind, it’s nigh on impossible to ignore the Champions League sides in this section. Obviously the ‘big hitters’ from Europe’s top leagues will be hugely popular, but looking elsewhere there is still plenty on offer. For me it’s a trip to Amsterdam (always enjoyable!), where 2018/19 Semi Finalists Ajax face Midtjylland of Denmark in a crucial encounter. Since that incredible run to the semis the season before last, Ajax’s form in this competition hasn’t lived up to that billing – they failed to progress beyond the Group stages in 2019/20 and they’re not exactly flying in Europe this season either. This really is a must win game for the Dutch side if they hope to progress to the latter stages, with a home match against group minnows Midtylland far and away their easiest fixture on paper. Anything less than that and Ajax will probably find themselves dropping into the Europa League for the second season in succession. One thing is for sure, they’ve got goals in them! Their recent Eredivisie form makes almost eye-watering reading for their upcoming opponents; 31 goals in their previous five domestic matches, including an insane 13-0 away win at Venlo, sees them sit top of the table and comfortably the top scorers in that league. Their Danish visitors are unlikely to be a pushover though, Ulvene (The Wolves) as they are known in their homeland are also top of their domestic league, the Superliga, having won six of their nine outings so far this season. Their away form does suggest they’ll leave themselves open to attack though, with a recent 4-1 thrashing at Nordsjaelland a prime example of their defensive frailties on the road. Currently bottom of the group, unsurprisingly in fairness, the Danes haven’t kept a clean sheet in the competition yet this season, including a 2-1 loss at home to Ajax in the corresponding fixture, and I don’t envisage that changing in the Dutch capital on Wednesday evening. Good luck to you all.

Ally: As Matt has alluded to, there are certainly plenty of attacking riches to go at in the Champions League. As the European teams represent a break from domestic tradition it would almost be rude of me not to select one of them here, and I’m heading to the Spanish capital for the Group A clash between Atletico Madrid and Lokomotiv Moscow. The hosts have had a wonderful start to the season in what is threatening to be one of the most open La Liga seasons in years, occupying second place just 3 points behind surprise early pacesetters Real Sociedad but crucially with two games in on their Basque rivals. Their home form at the magnificent new Wanda Metropolitano stadium has been excellent too scoring 13 goals in just 5 league games, including a 1-0 win against domestic rivals Barcelona last tine out, plus a further 3 goals on Matchday 2 in the UCL against Austrian champions RB Salzburg. Atleti coach Diego Simeone will be acutely aware this game represents a perfect opportunity to put daylight between themselves and their Russian visitors given that second place in the Group is realistically the best they can hope for given European champions Bayern’s superiority. The Moscow side haven’t been in great form on the domestic front languishing in mid table, well off the pace set by city rivals CSKA. While summer signing Luis Suarez is unavailable for Atletico, young Portuguese star Joao Felix finally seems to be coming of age in recent weeks and showing the promise that convinced Los Rojiblancos to pay Benfica £113m for his services, and together with more established stars like Yannick Carrasco, Saul Niguez, Koke and Marcos Llorente the hosts should have more than enough to brush aside Lokomotiv. Good luck with your selections.