The pinnacle of European football returns next Tuesday as the Champions League gets underway, which also means the return of its increasingly popular fantasy counterpart! The basic rules of the game have been summarised by Skonto Rigga here and, in a series of Community Articles to come over the coming months, a panel of ‘experts’ (they wish!) will provide their opinions on the pressing issues and offer tips on how to succeed.
On the panel are Fantasy Football Scout’s own Geoff, and Community Members and seasoned UCL players Darth_Krid, Stats Don’t Lie, JK, AK, FFFrog and Pirlo’s Pen.
Who is the best option in each position?
Each panellist was asked to name the one player per position that they think is the most important for our Matchday 1 squads. Two goalkeepers were often provided, because of the game’s substitution rules.
Geoff – Mikhail Kerzhakov looks like a solid 4.5m pick, though I’m not yet set on a Goalkeeper pairing. I’ll be hoping to find a solid but very cheap pair, and in this position more than others will be hoping to find guidance from others.
Darth_Krid – Just like in FPL, there’s no need to spend a premium on a keeper, especially with the option to substitute players and get two bites of the budget cherry. That being said, Barcelona’s Neto (5m) looks a great steal in an easy group as regular Marc Andre Ter Stegen will miss the group stages after surgery. In the other fixture ‘block’ I like Olympiacos’ Jose Sa (4.5m) as he is the undisputed #1 and is not likely to lose his place unlike some of the other injury deputies at this price point.
Stats Don’t Lie – With the ability to make substitutions during a matchday, premium keepers face a real uphill battle to justify their price. A 4.5m rotation pair looks to be the best bet here to give you the most chance at a CS. Personally I’m looking to pair Kerzhakov with Sa of Olympiacos. Both have manageable groups and are nailed in their defensively sound teams, and don’t take up valuable slots in teams that present many other options.
JK – With regular keeper Pierluigi Gollini injured Atalanta’s Marco Sportiello has a chance to establish himself. With Midtjylland up first it’s a great chance for the 4.5 priced keeper. Pair him with Kerzakhov of Zenit to rotate across the two days.
AK – This is the area where I am looking to maximise value while paying bare minimum. Although it’s important in this game to have two starting Goalkeepers, playing on different Matchdays so you can switch them out if need be. Adrian (4.5) is in my team as Alisson nurses an injury for Liverpool. Zenit’s Mikhail Kerzhakov (4.5) rotates nicely with Adrian and Zenit seem to be reliable at the back, having conceded only 6 goals in 10 games so far in Russian Premier League.
FFFrog – As I mentioned in my article, I’m going to recommend two players in a 4.5m rotation. Liverpool’s Adrian looks set to start the first four games and he plays on the day after Zenit’s Mikhail Kerzakhov. Their rotation leaves your keepers playing against Midtjylland, Brugges and Lazio until GW4 and the substitution system means you have two good shots at that goalkeeper spot each week.
Pirlo’s Pen – I can’t see many of the premium GK’s offering any great value early on, so I have decided to go cheap here. For 9m, you can have Jose Sa & Kerzhakov, which will give you a GK on both days of fixtures.
Geoff – Sergio Ramos (6.5m) is a clearly solid pick, but I’m hoping for big things from Alphonso Davies. It’s nice to have a bit of Canadian content, and he has some attacking threat with clean sheet potential. At 43% ownership, he’s a nice entry into the Bayern defence.
Darth_Krid – Love him or hate him, you just can’t ignore him. Sergio Ramos (6.5m) is a polarising figure but what isn’t in dispute is the fact that he plays for a Real Madrid side which conceded the fewest goals and kept the most clean sheets in Europe’s top five leagues last season. Oh, and add to the fact that he’s on penalties in the world of VAR where they’re handed out like sweets, it’s impossible to overlook him in what looks like a fairly navigable group for the Spanish champions.
Stats Don’t Lie – Mr Marmite himself, I simply can’t go without Sergio Ramos. Nailed on in a great defence, prolific scoring record, pens, 40% owned. As much as I hate him as a footballer, he’s nailed in my team.
JK – He was a great pick last year, he’s changed clubs but he’s still a great pick. Achraf Hakimi has a goal and two assists from his opening three league matches showing that the Moroccan remains a terrific force at both ends of the pitch.
AK – The first name on my teamsheet, Sergio Ramos (6.5). A Defender who plays for the best defence in the top five leagues and has penalties in his locker. If all that weren’t enough, he also has a massive goal threat from set pieces as we have seen over the years. Fantasy Gold.
FFFrog – At 5.5m, Atalanta’s left wing back Robin Gosens is nailed in my team. 9 goals and 8 assists last season in the league have been followed up with a goal and 2 more assists this term, and with games against Midtjylland and Ajax and Liverpool’s currently leaky defence, there’s going to be points at both ends for the flying German.
Pirlo’s Pen – The UCL defender of the season Joshua Kimmich is still classified as a defender in this game, and he can often play in midfield. With 2g & 3a last time out, I expect him to add to this.
Geoff – Ansu Fati is the second most owned midfielder (32%) for good reason, at only 8.0m. Doubling up with Philippe Coutinho (9.0m) looks like a solid strategy.
Darth_Krid – With most points in this version of the game coming from the forwards and the defence, the midfield is all about bargains. There aren’t too many to be found in the midfield this year, but I really like RB Leipzig’s Dani Olmo at 6m. He scored three goals in last year’s competition and plays as an attacking midfielder for last season’s surprise semi-finalists. With debutants Istanbul Basaksehir first up, it’s a prime fixture for him and the team to pick up where they left off.
Stats Don’t Lie – With my darling of last season, Josip Ilicic, still likely unavailable, Ansu Fati is the man that has gone straight into my team. The next prodigy of the Blaugrana has got off to a great start under Ronald Koeman, netting 3 goals in his first 3 league games this season. Barcelona find themselves in one of the easiest groups in the UCL and I’m backing Fati to build on his promising start.
JK – At just 8m Barcelona’s Ansu Fati has so far outshone his more illustrious team mate this season and begins with a home tie against likely group whipping boys Ferencvaros.
AK – Barcelona’s Ansu Fati is the first name on my team sheet in the midfield. He’s started all 3 games in the league on the left wing and has scored 3 goals already. Priced at just 8m, Fati could make a mockery of his price as Barcelona have two very weak teams in their group.
FFFrog – Bayern’s Serge Gnabry is 10m and as Spurs saw last season he is capable of a hat-trick any week. He has 3 goals already this season in Bayern’s steamroller offense and he’ll be looking to build on his 9 UCL goals from last season early on.
Pirlo’s Pen – I have gone for Ansu Fati. With a kind price tag and a home game against minnows Ferencvaros, I can see him doing well here.
Geoff – While Robert Lewandowski is probably the best forward pick, I will almost certainly pair him with Erling Braut Haaland. Formerly one of my favourite picks in Eliteserien Fantasy for Molde, he has a great scoring record and excellent Group Stage fixtures.
Darth_Krid – It might not be very original, but the first name in your forward line can only be Robert Lewandowski (12m). Robbed of a Ballon d’Or only by a nonsense decision to not award it, the Polish striker is fresh from scoring 15 goals in last season’s iteration and is the penalty-taking frontman for the reigning champions and arguably best team in the world. A no-brainer.
Stats Don’t Lie – This is probably the most difficult position to pick my players for due to the plethora of fantastic options, particularly in the premium bracket, but I can’t look past the value presented by Atalanta’s Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez. The 8.5m magician is a central hub for all things good in one of the most exciting attacks in Europe. Having recorded 4g and 2a in three league games thus far, and with 10+ assists in each of the last four seasons, this is a player I simply can’t see my team without.
JK – Starting at home to a Mönchengladbach side that has started slowly Romelu Lukaku is in fine form with 4 goals in his opening 3 Serie A matches as well as scoring against England and twice against Iceland.
AK – I can’t look past Robert Lewandowski (12m) even with a tricky fixture first up. He’s the main goal threat for the reigning champions and is also on penalties. The Polish striker scored an incredible 15 goals last season and came close to breaking Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of most goals in a season (17). It’s even more impressive when you consider the fact that knockout rounds were reduced to one-legged ties, meaning he played two fewer games than he would have in a normal season.
FFFrog – Picking a Bayern player in both midfield and attack isn’t very original, but when a team is this good it seems a no brainer. Lewandowski got 15 goals last season in 11 games, is on penalties and scored 4 against Hoffenheim in the last Bundesliga game fresh from winning European Player of the Year.
Pirlo’s Pen – Sometimes it’s wise to keep it simple, and for me the best asset in the game again has to be Robert Lewandowski. With 5g and 2a in 3 games in the Bundesliga, he’s going into the Atleti home game with serious form.
Commenting and future articles
So there we have it! Whilst the panel are in general agreement in some areas, with a few key differences, there is much to dig through.
We’ll look to do some Hot Topics in the coming days on the key points, and Community Articles about UCL will be the best place to discuss the Champions League fantasy game. All FPL-related content will be removed from the comment section here, so we can have a focused discussion on the key UCL topics!