With just one week to go until the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League Fantasy game kicks off, our series of preview articles gets underway with a look at the best goalkeepers for UCL on offer.
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With a squad of 15 players and substitutions possible between days within a Matchday, having two playing goalkeepers is a great way to maximise the points you get.
Make sure that you get a goalkeeper from both sides of the group stage – one who plays Tuesday 14th and one who plays Wednesday 15th – so you know that you’ll always have an option on both days.
Alongside this, premium goalkeepers are very rarely worth their price tags when you look at the budget options available.
A goalkeeper combination worth between 8.5m – 9.5m is the best use of value at this position.
Most of the options discussed in this article are worth 5m or below, and with the Limitless and Wildcard chips available, plus two transfers between Matchdays, only the first two fixtures for each keeper will be considered.
As almost all of my goalkeeper options would be considered ‘budget’, I’ve divided them by sides of the draw, rather than by price.
This should help to decide on one keeper from each of the days.
Group E-H kick off the tournament proper on Tuesday 14th, because why not do it the wrong way round, hey UEFA?
GROUP E-H OPTIONS
Juan Musso (4.5m) – Atalanta
Musso has come into Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta side and immediately claimed the number one jersey after a stellar season with Udinese. Opening games against Villarreal and Young Boys are incredibly kind for the Bergamo side, who have proven that they can compete with Europe’s best over the last two seasons. With a 73.6% save percentage in the last year per FBref, Musso should be a strong contender for both save and clean sheet points over the first two Matchdays.
Odysseas Vlachodimos (4.5m) – Benfica
Benfica are much stronger defensively than they are going forward, and Vlachodimos is a great keeper. With a near 77% save rate last season and an opening game against Dynamo Kyiv, the Greek stopper could be a great differential pick at the back. His second game is against a Barcelona side in disarray, which could be a great opportunity to pick up both save points and potentially a surprise clean sheet.
Yassine Bounou (5.0m) – Sevilla
Bounou was one of the best keepers in last season’s competition and has been gifted a very soft group this time round. Sevilla should be too much for RB Salzburg and Wolfsburg after a great transfer window and they’ve already picked up two clean sheets from three games in La Liga. Although he’s 0.5m more than the previous two picks, he’s part of the strongest side so far and plays two sides under new management and without much European pedigree.
Edouard Mendy (6.0m) – Chelsea
The only premium player on this list was the highest scoring goalkeeper in the game last season and is part of what is probably Europe’s strongest defence. Opening games against Zenit and a poor Juventus side should be a great opportunity for clean sheets and the Senegalese stopper is also usually good for save points. The downsides with Mendy are his price and the value Chelsea have in defence in this season’s game, although doubling, or even tripling, up on their defence would be no bad thing.
GROUP A-D OPTIONS
Gregor Kobel (4.5m) – Borussia Dortmund
As you’re about to notice, three of the goalkeepers discussed are part of the same group. They’re all on this list by virtue of being great value and having an easy group by UCL standards. Up first is new Dortmund stopper Kobel. Although Dortmund have looked less than convincing at the back so far, they open their campaign against Besiktas and Sporting Lisbon, and traditionally step their game up on the European stage. They also have first choice defenders like Mats Hummels (5.0m) and Raphael Guerreiro (6.0m) who have only just returned to the squad. For his price, Kobel looks like a great option.
Maarten Stekelenburg (4.5m) – Ajax
With Andre Onana (£4.5m) suspended until early November, Stekelenburg is first choice at Ajax, as he was for the Netherlands at EURO 2020. In the opposite order to Dortmund, Ajax start off their campaign against Sporting Lisbon and Besiktas, but they haven’t had the strongest start to the season, including a 4-0 loss to Feyenoord and a 1-1 draw with Twente. Of the two 4.5m options in Group C, Kobel looks to have the edge over Stekelenburg.
Ersin Destanoglu (4.0m) – Besiktas
Destanoglu gets in as the only starting 4.0m keeper in the game. He opens his campaign against Dortmund and Ajax, but Besiktas could spring a surprise and haven’t conceded a goal in their four Super Lig games so far. He’s the sort of player you bring in because you need him rather than you want him, but he could be a great enabler for that player you want outfield who’s 0.5m out of reach.
Andriy Pyatov (4.5m) – Shakhtar Donetsk
Veteran Ukrainian Pyatov has the kindest opening fixture of any side in this season’s UCL. Moldovan side Sheriff are comparative minnows and Shakhtar were very solid in last season’s competition. Shakhtar’s second game is against Inter Milan, a side they faced in last seaon’s group stage too. Both their group games finished 0-0 last season, and if you fancy that to happen again, then Pyatov may be the best goalkeeper pick of the bunch from Groups A-D.
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