The next round of matches in this season’s Champions League gets underway this evening. Fantasy managers taking part in the official UEFA Fantasy Champions League game need to be aware of an early deadline this evening – Zenit’s home clash against Austria Vienna means our squads must be submitted by 16.45 GMT. With Lionel Messi missing out through injury, there’s plenty to ponder, then; we bring Granville on board as our Champions League tipster for the season ahead:
Hulk – already off the mark with a thunderbolt in the group opener against Atletico Madrid, the Brazilian heads into this evening’s encounter in strong form. Set-piece taker Hulk has netted in each of his last four appearances for the Russians and, with six goals in his previous seven, looks a real contender for our three-man frontlines at just 9.0. Alternatively, team-mate Oleg Shatov is another to consider. Zenit are flying right now, having racked up six straight victories in all competitions and the midfielder has been key to their impressive displays, chipping in with three strikes in his last couple of appearances – at 5.0, he’s a strong budget option against the struggling Austrian outfit.
Pedro – Messi’s absence this Matchday is as much of a blow for Fantasy managers as it is for Barcelona. Currently residing in 60% of teams, the most popular player in the game is burning a 13.0 shaped hole in our budgets ahead of the Spanish side’s trip to Celtic this evening. Granted, as Barca found out last term, Parkhead is something of a fortress on European nights – the visitors (who are also without Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba) will be looking for the 9.0 priced forward to maintain the form that has harvested five goals in his last six appearances before facing back-to-back Group H games against Milan.
Jackson Martinez – make no mistake, the Portuguese league leaders have a tough home tie on their hands as Atletico Madrid pay visit later tonight. Diego Simeone’s side have now won all seven La Liga matches but Martinez’ eye for goal could help swing the match the hosts’ way – with five strikes in his previous six, he’s an in-form option at 8.0 up top. If you’re on the hunt for a cut-price midfielder, Josue may fit the bill – coming in at a mere 4.5, he’s at the front of the queue for spot-kicks and has already converted three this season.
Valentin Stocker – the 6.0 priced midfielder is a key man for Basel as they look for a repeat of the Matchday 1 victory at Stamford Bridge. Up next for the Swiss side is a home game against Schalke and with the injury-hit visitors shipping 16 goals in their last seven matches, it’s fair to say their defence has been unconvincing. Stocker has now struck three times in the last seven, with this stunner against Sion at the weekend. His midfield team-mate Mohamed Salah is another option – similarly priced, he found the net in Matchday 1 away to Chelsea.
Ahmed Musa – the 5.5 priced CSKA forward has been filling in for the injured Seydou Doumbia in recent matches and has now notched five times in 11 appearances. Admittedly, the Russian outfit have been in poor form of late but with visitors Plzen offering little threat going forward, a home win in Wednesday’s early kick-off (deadline is 16.45 GMT again) looks on the cards. For those looking to load up on the hosts, Vasili Berezutski, at a mere 4.0, is a tempting shout in defence.
Sidney Sam – in spite of their Matchday 1 defeat at Old Trafford, Leverkusen have made a strong start to the season, winning six of their first seven Bundesliga fixtures. The 5.0 priced midfielder has racked up five goals in seven appearances so far this term and, playing host to a Real Sociedad side without a win since the opening game of the campaign, looks an eye-catching acquisition.
Edison Cavani – a home game against Benfica brings PSG’s summer signing onto the radar. Coming in at 10.5, the former Napoli man is kinder on the budget than team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic (12.5) and has now notched five games in eight appearances for the French outfit. He could also be on spot-kicks, too – Ibrahimovic missed his last penalty, while Cavani converted from the spot at the weekend, albeit with the Swede off the pitch. At the back, centre-half Marquinos comes in at 5.5 and has grabbed two goals in four appearances this term.
Massimo Bruno – the Anderlecht midfielder looks an outstanding value squad filler as he prepares for a home showdown against an Olympiacos side who are notoriously bad travellers. Priced at a mere 4.0, Bruno has already registered five goals in nine matches this season and could well be set to plunder the points tomorrow evening.
Arturo Vidal – despite firing 13 shots at goal against FC Copenhagen, Juventus could only manage a draw last time out. A home game against Galatasaray affords the Italian side the chance to get back to winning ways and Vidal’s contribution is likely to be here – the 8.5 priced midfielder has already notched three times in six appearances and is on spot-kicks for the “Old Lady”. Former United man Paul Pogba is a budget alternative at 5.5 and looks a secure starter in the hosts’ five-man midfield.