Wow. What a huge couple of days. In weeks gone by we have had some hotly anticipated Champions League games that have ended up being a none event. Not this week!

Readers will know that I advocate a medium term patient style of trading where you don’t have to watch every game if you don’t want to. I like time efficiency and I don’t want to be glued to every minor match. But when it comes to knock out football that goes out of the window if you have players involved. 

You’ve got to watch every minute. 

CL and even Europa League involvement is worth a lot particularly from the Quarter Finals onwards when you start getting treble pay outs on match days with just a few teams involved. But more than that, the CL in particular has the power to shift the mood and sentiment around a team. 

Since their effective first leg assumed “knock out” by PSG, Manchester United feel good factor has been in short supply. Despite the good record under OGS, there was a feeling that they had been overbought and the first leg was a reality check. 

Now? It’s a totally different feel. Optimism is high for them again and if they can upset PSG away why not Barcelona or… (I almost typed Real) or Bayern/Liverpool. 

Same goes for Ajax. Ziyech is a player I have long favoured and he really showcased his ability as discussed below. But now the whole talented youthful Ajax team are going to be well regarded by the market and in hot demand with the Summer approaching. 

And then the other side of the coin, one look at the fallers list and you can see a Real/PSG bloodbath. Not only are they going to miss further CL dividends, they are going to have a general downer on them for the rest of the season.

This happens in knockout football whenever expectations are shattered. If Manchester United had gone out last night, the market would barely have blinked because expectations would have been met. 

Is this optimism or massive downer on a winner/loser logical? Partially but probably not to the extent seen last night. What we are seeing is emotional reactions to high drama and I’d expect it to settle down a bit.

Risers

Romelu Lukaku

It could barely have been a worse season on FI for Lukaku. 

He is an atrocious performance player, always has been, can’t see it ever being any different. If you are hitting just 150-70’s’s with two goals and the match winner you are in deep trouble. This is the third game in a row he has done that. 

So, you are left with goals dividends and whatever media he can get. At this scoring rate, the goals dividends ain’t bad. But nobody maintains this scoring rate for long. 

He’s earned 25p in media dividends this season which is not a great deal. And it hasn’t been a bad season in reality with 18 goals in all competitions. 

I think you really have to believe the Summer transfer rumours to be happy with this trade at this price. There are some vague rumours of a Juventus move and possible swap deal with Dybala. 

But, after this and with his form I would be surprised if there was a serious desire from either side to move things on.

Hakim Ziyech and David Neres

A superb performance from Ziyech for Ajax and it shows why I have rated him so highly for so long. 

He pushed towards the 190’s to easily clinch Star Player with just 1 goal and it wasn’t even the match winner. He’s got real quality and if he does make a move particularly to the Premier League then it will be a big deal. 

Almost everyone will remember the name after this performance and if the rumours pick up as we head towards the Summer he will surely see significant buying. 

As for Neres, he also put himself firmly in the shop window. He doesn’t quite have Ziyech’s performance quality but he is not bad either.

For a forward, he has quite decent involvement although if we are going to see him as up there with the Piatek’s and Jovic’s anytime soon, we need to see more than the 4 goals he has managed so far this season. 

If an appropriate rumour to a big club came up, I could see him getting plenty of attention. In fact, Ajax assets in general should get an optimism boost from their heroics this week. 

Fallers

Vinicius Junior and Kylian Mbappé

Some brutal drops for two of FI’s highest priced youngsters. 

For Vinicius, this is a perfect storm of serious injury (possibly a season ender) combined with an inglorious dump out of the Champions League. 

This is going to be very important to  watch because with no more performance wins possible and extremely limited media prospects from here until August we may find out how many true believers there really are who are willing to stick it out for that long term hold particularly post share split. 

It’s a bit of a shame because for all of the over hyped speculation on young players, this is one that really looked like coming good. He does look performance suitable and given where we started the season where he looked like being a reserve player all year you can only look upon this season as a dream start.

Mbappé too has taken a hit after last night. He has been in great form again recently but he very rarely gets rewarded for his dazzling on pitch displays on the Index. 

He is another like Lukaku who can get 2 including the matchwinner and not break much above 180. That’s a real problem at this price and unless you think the rules may change at some point or he will earn enough in media alone in a few years it’s not something that can just be ignored. It’s not a new problem either, it’s been apparent for well over a year now. 

For the Summer, his prospects of some transfer speculation are a bit better. With PSG’s now woeful Champions League record becoming a borderline curse I think keeping hold of their stars just got a lot harder.  

Hot Gossip

Real Madrid

A club in disarray just became a club in crisis. This has been an abysmal season for them (apart from the bright spot of Vinicius) and they need to make big changes.

Who the next manager is will have a huge effect on the value of Real players going forward. If it is Mourinho, a black cloud will hang over them given his reputation as a performance points killer. He may prove that wrong in time but that feeling will be there. 

If it is Zidane or Pochettino the opposite will be true and we could expect a bounce for what are some pretty heavily discounted players.

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