After a seemingly never-ending hiatus, the UEFA Champions League is back in town. And so am I, with all the tips you need for this week’s action and ahead.
The right time to play our wildcards
In Champions League fantasy, we get one wildcard per season. However, what is an important point to note is, that there are unlimited transfers after the group stage ends, when half the sides are eliminated. Hence, it might be worthwhile playing our wildcards now – maximizing returns for the last 3 games of group stages, to get the optimum use out of it. Another point in favor of using the wildcard now is the fixture shift. Every team plays the same team in Gameweek 3 and Gameweek 4, home and away.
Of course, this means that the teams facing the weakest sides have back to back plum fixtures. Conversely, teams facing tougher sides will have back to back tougher fixtures to contend with. Also, some teams could wrap up qualification as soon as this Gameweek. Be wary of going near these team’s rotation-prone assets. The price rises also come into force after this Gameweek, so you might want to get some of the top performers in.
Keeping these in mind while making your picks could go a long way to success.
Teams/Fixtures to Target
Benfica vs Manchester United
Bayern vs Celtic
Anderlecht vs Paris-Saint Germain
Qarabag vs Atletico Madrid
Juventus vs Sporting Lisbon
Barcelona vs Olympiacos
Maribor vs Liverpool
APOEL vs Dortmund
Top Player Picks
Forwards – Premium
1. Lionel Messi (€12.0m) – Messi has started this season in a ridiculous vein of form. The magical Argentine has scored 11 and assisted 3, in only 8 league games. In the Champions League too, he has a brace against Juventus under his belt. With Olympiacos in the next two fixtures, followed by Sporting, he provides perhaps the safest and the most explosive captaincy picks for those games. In 39% of all teams, leave the third most highest owned player out at your own peril.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (€12.0m) – I’m not trying to start something here, so I’ll have both Messi and Ronaldo at #1. Although he may have a harder fixture on paper – Spurs, we all know that doesn’t bother Ronaldo. After all, he did score 5 goals in the quarter-finals against Bayern last season, which he followed up with a hat-trick against Atletico in the semi and brace against Juventus in the final. He already has 4 goals in 2 games this season, and as the highest owned player at 51%, it’s hard to leave him out. Since Messi and Ronaldo play on different days, investing in both to provide two bites at the captain cherry could be a great idea.
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (€11.0m) – Facing minnows APOEL in the next two games, Aubameyang facesperhaps the weakest side in the competition, who have shipped 7 in the first 2. The Gabonese striker is in great touch, having scored 8 in his last 5 Bundesliga games. With Dortmund facing a series of must-win encounters to keep their place in the Champions League, the side will be full of hunger. At 2% ownership, he’s a great differential if you want to propel up the ranks.
4. Pablo Dybala (€9.5m) – Cheaper on the budget than the others, Dybala is yet to produce in the Champions League this season. But with 10 goals in 6 Serie A starts, that’s certainly going to be corrected soon, with two fixtures against Lisbon followed by Olympiacos. He was also rested on the weekend, so, the Messi-lite will be fit and raring to go.
Forwards – Bargain
1. Gabriel Jesus (€8.0m) – The main striker, till Aguero returns to full fitness. For a Man City side which have scored an astronomical 17 goals in their last 3 games at home. At €8.0m. It doesn’t get more bargain than this, especially in a group with 3 teams not well known for their defenses.
2. Wissam Ben Yedder (€7.5m) – Although he has blown hot and cold domestically, the Sevilla striker has started off the Champions League campaign on fire. He has 4 goals in 2 games already, adding to his 2 goals in the qualifiers. On penalty duties, in an open group, he’s an exciting punt.
3. Anthony Martial (€7.5m) – So far Jose Mourinho’s favored left winger of choice in the Champions League, Martial has shown power and finesse for a free-scoring United side. He was at his electric best against CSKA last game, scoring 1 and assisting the other 3 goals. On penalty duties in the absence of Juan Mata, he will be looking to dish out similar treatment to a Benfica side coming off a 5-0 thumping against Basel.
Midfielders – Premium
1. Phillippe Coutinho (€9.0m) – Facing Maribor in the next two games, Coutinho is perhaps the premium midfielder to have. He has scored on 3 of his 5 starts since injury return so far, also scoring against Spartak in the Champions League. With Sadio Mane injured, he’ll perhaps be manning an advanced role on the left-wing too. While the other Liverpool attacker take up a valuable forward spot, Coutinho is fortunately enlisted as a midfielder.
2. Kevin de Bruyne (€9.5m) – One of the few constants at Pep Guardiola’s rotation mayhem at Man City, de Bruyne is a safe route into the goal-crazy Man City attack. With a goal and 5 assists in the last 5 league games, along with a goal and assist in the Champions League, he’s in great form right now.
3. Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco (€8.5m) – With 3 goals and 3 assists in the league, Carrasco has been the leading light of Atletico’s season thus far. With two games against Champions League debutants and whipping boys Qarabag up next, the Belgian winger seems like an ideal midfield punt.
Midfielders – Budget
1. Taison (€7.0m) – 4 assists and 1 goal in the league to go with his goal against Napoli, the Brazilian winger represents the best route into the Shakhtar attack. With 2 games against group whipping boys Feyenoord next, Taison could be a quality budget option.
2. Joaquin Correa (€6.0m) – The Sevilla midfielder has impressed in the Champions League so far, with 1 goal and 1 assist in the opening 2. He is the second top scoring midfielder thus far, and a snip at just €6.0m.
Defenders – Premium
1. Dani Alves (€6.5m) – The PSG fullback is as attacking as it gets for a defender. He underlined his credentials with a goal against Bayern. With PSG in an easy group, he’ll earn you those clean sheet points too.
2. Daley Blind (€5.5m) – Blind is also an attacking fullback, who already has an assist under his belt this campaign. With Man Utd’s defense looking as solid as ever, Blind could be a great pick to earn points on both ends of the pitch, as he is also on corner duties. With Matteo Darmian having started in the league, Blind seems like Mourinho’s first choice left-back for Europe.
3. Kyle Walker (€6.0m) – You guessed it, yet another marauding fullback. Man City’s free-scoring form is well documented, with Walker getting in on the act with the odd assist too. But what has gone under the radar is their new-found defensive resilience. With straightforward fixtures, the most expensive fullback in the world could be a good source of consistent points.
Defenders – Budget
1. Jorge (€4.0m) – Yet to provide a clean sheet in the Champions League, Jorge’s form in Ligue 1 has been quite the contrary. The young left-back has provided a remarkable 4 assists in 7 games, with 3 clean sheets under his belt. With their opening two results, expect Leonardo Jardim to tighten his men up at the back. All this for €4.0m.
2. Trent Alexander-Arnold (€4.0m) – Although Liverpool’s defense is much maligned, with 2 fixtures against Maribor followed by a home fixture against Spartak, surely even they’ll get the odd clean sheet here. Joe Gomez’s red card against Sevilla seems to have tipped the odds for the right-back role, as Gomez has become the Premier League right-back of choice, which means Alexandre-Arnold should now start in the Champions League. He has shown his attacking capabilities already, with a stunning free-kick in the qualifiers against Hoffenheim.
3. Clement Lenglet (€5.0m) – At €5.0m, Lenglet offers the cheapest route into a Sevilla defense which has kept 5 clean sheets in the opening 8 games so far. They face Spartak twice up next, followed by Maribor.
Goalkeepers – Budget
1. Alphonse Areola (€4.5m) – It doesn’t get much better than Areola, who has kept 2 clean sheets in 2 so far in the CL, to add to his 6 in 9 domestically. The PSG keeper has made a mockery of his pricetag, and with successive fixtures against Anderlecht, should only add to that. He is the top scoring goalkeeper in the game so far, overall.
2. Sven Ulreich (€5.0m) – Another top team goalkeeper priced at a snip, Ulreich is a great way to cover for Bayern defense. With Manuel Neuer confirmed to be out for the group stages, his spot is not in danger. However, since Areola and Ulreich are in the same group and hence play on the same day, do make sure you don’t get both of them.
3. Fabri (€4.5m) – Playing on a different day to Areola/Ulreich, Fabri provides perhaps the best option to rotate with the either of them. Although the Besiktas defense isn’t notably tight, they did keep a clean sheet against Leipzig and at this price point, you can’t really go wrong.
For other general tips and feedback on your teams, do feel free to use the comments section, or reach out to us on our Twitter – @the12thmantimes.