The UEFA Champions League group stages kick off this week, with rotation issues aplenty to worry Fantasy Premier League managers for the next few months.
But if you can’t beat them, join them. Or maybe join FanTeam‘s €100,000 Champions League Event – the world’s largest Champions League Fantasy tournament.
After all, why worry about Mohamed Salah’s midweek minutes when they could be helping you to the €20,000 first prize on offer?
And even if you don’t hit the Euro ground running, pay-outs extend all the way through the top 600, with weekly prizes to sweeten the deal as well.
FanTeam are handing out €500 to each Gameweek’s best manager and a massive €1,000 is up for grabs for the highest Gameweek score of the competition.
At the moment, there’s also an Overlay, which means that since the contest is not full yet, FanTeam will still pay out €100,000 anyway – so the expected value of the entry is way higher than the entry price of €25.
The rules of the game are virtually identical to FPL, with one or two scoring tweaks here and there, which you can learn about here.
But time is most definitely on your side when it comes to picking your team as the Gameweek deadline is just ten seconds before kick-off.
Just like with FPL, you can’t have all the big names, however. And because FanTeam‘s contest is starting well after all of Europe’s big leagues are up and running, you’ll be hard-pressed to find the surprise (and cheap) packages that have made the FPL season such a tricky one so far.
As an example, Chelsea wunderkind Mason Mount remains an FPL bargain at £6.5m. But in the FanTeam game, he’s the side’s most expensive midfielder at 8.0m. That makes picking your team a real test of your Fantasy skill.
The good thing is that, as with FPL, there is a colour-coded flag system to help us make our decisions.
Players are grouped into three different categories (see below) and you’ll be able to see, for example, that the injured Lionel Messi is currently red-flagged.
Here’s my initial effort at a starting XI, within budget and with a mix of big names, familiar faces and outright Euro punts playing in a 3-4-3 formation.
Anthony Lopes (5.0m) – Lyon should have enough to emerge from Group G and they’ll kick off with a home match against Zenit Saint-Petersburg. Russian sides are notoriously bad travellers, so Lopes looks fairly well-placed to start the campaign with a decent return.
Virgil van Dijk (6.5m) – The centre-half is 0.5m cheaper than both Liverpool full-backs, but with none of the rotation risk. Napoli away will almost certainly be the toughest test of their Group E campaign, but it seems inconceivable that Liverpool won’t be in for the long haul in Europe again this season.
Robin Gosens (5.0m) – Atalanta will make their first-ever group stage appearance on Wednesday when they travel to face Dinamo Zagreb. The Italians prefer attack to defence, so their German left-back Gosens could feature at both ends of the pitch. He’s already scored this season and produced three goals and two assists in Serie A last term.
Progression in Group C is certainly not beyond Atalanta – Man City are vulnerable at the back without Aymeric Laporte, while Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk are beatable, particularly on their travels.
Sergino Dest (4.5m) – The cheap and cheerful Ajax right-back was benched at the weekend, which suggests he’ll start at home to Lille. Last year’s semi-finalists are in a group, including Chelsea and Valencia, that they will view with little fear.
Takumi Minamino (7.0m) – A Red Bull Salzburg midfielder with a serious eye for goal – Minamino has already got four (and as many assists) from just six appearances in all competitions this season. And he managed four goals and two assists in a ten-game Europa League campaign last year. Yes, Group E includes Liverpool and Napoli, but there’s also Genk to play and the Austrians will be a handful at home.
Lorenzo Insigne (8.5m) – The Napoli midfielder has started this season in sparkling form, with two goals and two assists from the first three games of the Serie A season. He has previous in the Champions League as well, scoring three goals in last season’s group stages, against Liverpool and home and away against PSG.
Memphis Depay (8.0m) – Group C, as mentioned above, looks favourable for Lyon, and Depay has made a strong start to the season, with four goals and an assist in four Ligue 1 games. He produced 12 goals and 16 assists in 47 matches in all competitions last term, and set-piece duties add to his appeal.
Kevin De Bruyne (10.0m) – Okay, so Manchester City couldn’t beat Norwich, but they will surely make amends in Group C, even if a trip to Donetsk first up is probably the toughest match they’ll have. De Bruyne didn’t start at Carrow Road, which suggests Pep Guardiola views him as a European essential, and the Belgian maestro looks primed for a big season in 2019/20.
Cristiano Ronaldo (11.5m) – His Champions League record is so well documented, I’ll leave you to look it up if your jaw hasn’t dropped already. Juventus have a nasty trip to Atletico Madrid first up in Group D, but be prepared to hold on to your jaw one more time when you see Ronaldo’s record against them – 33 appearances, 25 goals and eight assists.
Ronaldo is Euro royalty and well worth the premium price.
Romelu Lukaku (9.0m) – The Belgian has made a promising start to his Italian job, and Inter’s home tie against Group F minnows Slavia Prague looks like a great opportunity to confirm the (perhaps unfair) notion that he’s a flat track bully.
Inter are riding high in Serie A with three wins from three under Antonio Conte, and although much sterner games await in the group, Lukaku can always be sold on when the going gets tougher.
Yussuf Poulsen (7.5m) – Fielding three premium strikers looks virtually impossible without compromising the balance of your side in the FanTeam game, so RB Leipzig forward Poulsen is my penny-pinching punt. He has a goal and three assists from four Bundesliga games this season and scored 15 goals in 31 appearances last term.
FanTeam‘s €100,000 Champions League Event will run for the six rounds of the tournament’s group stages, with €500 going to each Gameweek’s best manager and a massive €1,000 up for grabs for the highest Gameweek score of the competition.
All that for an entry fee of just €25, with a maximum of 20 teams allowed per user.
To sign up, click here.
While you’re there, you can also check out the finer details of the contest, including the complete scoring breakdown and the full prize fund on offer.
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