The start of the UEFA Champions League group stage is less than a week away and the competition’s official, free-to-play Fantasy game is now live.
Champions League match tickets, Playstation 5 consoles and cash in the UEFA store are up for grabs, while Premium Memberships will also be dished out to the leaders in our Fantasy Football Scout mini-league (PIN: 65KAB8EHX307).
The final of these three introductory articles for UEFA Champions League Fantasy focuses on the forwards. The scoring for forwards is again very similar to Fantasy Premier League, with the balls recovered statistic rarely benefitting them.
READ MORE: The best Champions League goalkeepers and defenders
READ MORE: The best Champions League midfielders
READ MORE: How to play Champions League Fantasy
Premium Forwards (€9.5m-€12m)
When the world’s strongest sides come together, it brings with it an inevitable saturation of top-quality players. This is most clearly shown in the premium forwards category. These players can score big any or every week and having a couple in your team appears to be a necessity.
Picking a starting point in this category was tough but I’ve gone for Bayern’s newly crowned UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, Robert Lewandowski (€12.0m). He top-scored in last season’s competition with 15 goals in just 11 games, is on penalties, and is nailed in the best side in world football at the moment. Fresh off the back of his four-goal haul against Hoffenheim, Lewandowski looks like the most secure forward pick for the group stages.
That means Lionel Messi (€12.0m) is second on this list. Although he’s only scored once in his first three games this season, he has two assists to his name and has a home banker against Ferencváros on Matchday 1 – so could be the perfect captain to fire your season off to a great start.
Next up is Erling Haaland (€11.0m). He has four goals and an assist in his first three league games and faces three questionable defences in the group stage. Last season he scored two or more goals a whopping 12 times. Playing in a better side for the group stages this year, Haaland could run riot.
Another young star costing €11.0m, Kylian Mbappe is only getting better. He has two goals and four assists from three games this term and PSG are looking better after a shaky league start. Both Mbappe and Neymar (€11.5m) will be in and around the goals every week as PSG look to go one better than last year. Their games against a dysfunctional Manchester United defence and Turkish relegation-strugglers Istanbul Başakşehir could produce big scorelines for the duo.
Two Serie A forwards complete this section. Inter’s Romelu Lukaku (€11.0m) has penalties and is in incredible form, making him a slightly better option than his strike partner Lautaro Martinez (€10.5m). Atalanta’s 13 goals in their first three games has fired them to the top of Serie A and Duvan Zapata (€9.5m) has got a goal and two assists. After 19 goals and nine assists through 33 games last season, Zapata could be a slightly less popular gem to fire you up the ranks with his opening games against Midtjylland and Ajax.
It’s of course worth keeping an eye on a few players unavailable for Matchday 1, especially Cristiano Ronaldo (€12.0m). He should return for Matchday 3, where he then plays Ferencváros home and away. The fitness of Manchester City’s two main strikers, Gabriel Jesus (€9.5m) and Sergio Aguero (€10.0m) should also be high on your watchlist.
Mid-Priced Forwards (€7m-€9m)
The choices in this section are few and far between, but what there is, is of very high quality. Atalanta’s captain and darling Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez (€8.5m) has started the season with four goals and two assists in just three games and has a place in this author’s team firmly secured with his kind opening fixtures and “nailed-ness”. Ronaldo’s absence paves the way for Paulo Dybala (€9.0m) to return to the starting XI alongside Alvaro Morata (€9.0m) . Named Serie A’s MVP last season, he could be a shrewd early differential,
Jesse Marsch’s Red Bull Salzburg play flowing, attacking football which helped Haaland to eight goals in six group stage games last season. Patson Daka (€7.5m) has scored seven goals and four assists through 10 games so far in the Austrian Bundesliga, as well as a couple against Liverpool in pre-season. Playing against Lokomotiv Moscow and Bayern’s high line, which has been shaky in their early games, he could feast like Haaland.
Finishing off this section are two established goalscorers from middling Champions League teams. Zenit’s Artem Dzyuba (€8.0m) has been a staple of UCL scoresheets for a decade now and, like Daka, has seven goals and four assists through his first 10 games of this season. With Club Brugge up first and Lazio in Matchdays 3 and 4, he could be another smart differential.
Olympiacos’ Youssef El-Arabi (€8.0m) scored three goals in his three Champions League starts last season, 17 goals in 25 starts in the league and has scored in his last two for the Greek giants. Starting out against Marseille and Porto could bring goals for the Moroccan talisman.
Budget Forwards (€4.5m-€6.5m)
These options really are quite sparse in both quantity and quality. The best is clearly Rennes‘ new signing Serhou Guirassy (€6.5m). The Frenchman has three goals and an assist in five league games for the French league leaders. If he takes advantage of matches against Chelsea’s dire defence and Russian mid-tablers Krasnodar, Guirassy should turn out to be the best budget forward in the game.
Dynamo Kyiv’s Vladislav Supryaha (€6.5m) got a goal and two assists through their three qualifying games for the UCL, but games against Juventus and Barcelona definitely suggest there are better options elsewhere.
Ajax’s Antony (€6.0m) has two goals in the four games he’s started this season but was subbed off for his likely replacement David Neres (€8.5m) in the last game.
Any of the cheaper options are either unsure starters, or simply poor picks.
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