As seems to be the requirement this season, we're having to make decisions on the go regarding our fantasy coverage. First it was the Yahoo! fantasy game being disbanded ahead of the 2015-16 Premier League season, and now it's a much-later-than-expected start for the UEFA.com Champions League fantasy game (still listed as "Coming Soon" at the time of writing) forcing us to search elsewhere for a game to focus on.
After some frantic searching, we've settled on the Goal.com Champions League fantasy game as our primary focus throughout the competition this year, though if the UEFA game goes live before Matchday 1 we may also have a league there. While the Goal.com game is only available through a mobile app, it is fully functional, live and available worldwide, making it the best fit for our diverse group of readers.
Here's what you need to know about the game itself:
Once you download the app, you'll have the opportunity to select a game to play (Premier League, European Super League or Champions League). Only one is offered for free through the app, so be sure to select the Champions League game during the initial setup. Here are the basics you should keep in mind:
- You have a budget of £75m available to choose an 11-man squad
- Valid formations include 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-5-1, 5-4-1, 5-3-2, 3-5-2 and 3-4-3
- You must choose an initial team in order to set up your team name and join leagues
- You will be able to make unlimited changes until kickoff on Tuesday
- You can choose a maximum of 4 players from any team during the Group Stages
Once you have completed your initial team setup, you will be prompted to choose a team name and badge, followed by an opportunity to create or join a mini-league. It's important to note that you can only join one mini-league per team, so if you want to play in our league be sure to choose the join league option. Here's the number to join our mini-league:
Never Manage Alone League PIN: 4732
Scoring for this game is fairly straightforward and most similar to the Official FPL game. Here's how the scoring breaks down for all players:
- Starting Lineup: 2
- Substitute Appearance: 1
- Goal - Goalkeepers & Defenders: 7; Midfielders: 6; Forwards: 5
- Assist: 3
- Red Card: -5
- Clean Sheet (45 mins+ for GK & DF): 5
- Goal Conceded (GK & DF): -1
- Penalty Save (GK): 5
- Every 2 saves (GK): 1
- Penalty Miss: -3
There is also a Captain feature in this game. Your captain will score double points.
The transfer system for the Goal.com game is one of the most interesting aspects to the game, and will require a fair amount of strategy and planning as the competition progresses. Each week, you will be allotted a certain number of free transfers for your team (typically 2, though there are some instances where more are awarded).
There will also be a round of unlimited transfers following the group stage and before the knockout stages begin, so you will be able to drop any players who do not make it to the Round of 16 without consequence.
The biggest item you should know for the transfer system, though, is that you can technically have at least 13 scoring players each week. The way to do this is quite complex, so I'll leave the explanation up to the fine folks at Goal.com:
You can make changes to your team in between fixtures. As long as the player is in your lineup before a game's scheduled kick off time, you will get his points. You also retain ALL points scored by the player transferred out. For example:
You could have Wayne Rooney in your team for a 12:45 kick off on a Saturday, then transfer him out while Manchester United are playing, say 13:00, and still receive his points for the rest of the game. You could then bring in Sergio Aguero in his place, and let's imagine Manchester City are playing at 15:00 the same day. Because you have transferred in Aguero before City's scheduled kick off time, he will also score points for your team.
As you can see, playing your transfers right can really come in handy for your team. With 2-3 free transfers each week you could have a team of up to 14 players scoring points for you, so you'll definitely want to make sure you pay attention to the fixture list each round.
If you're stuck on a choice between a couple players, be sure to select the player whose match takes place first, then schedule your other choice(s) to be transferred in before their respective match begins. You'll also need to have funds available to make those transfers, so be sure to set aside some thinking time to get everything prepared moving forward. Waiting until the last minute could mean missing out on a lot of potential points.
If you're worrying about having to make those transfers mid-game when you may be at work (like I will) or otherwise occupied, Goal.com has you covered there as well with a scheduled transfers feature. When you are making your transfers for the week, you can choose to make them at that time or schedule them to take place at a time in the future (like the example above). This should help eliminate any unfair advantage for those managers who have access to the app during the games.
There is a plethora of valuable information available in the app, so I would recommend downloading it as soon as possible to give yourself some time to explore and tinker ahead of the Group Stages kicking off on Tuesday.
We'll be back tomorrow with our fantasy recommendations for Matchday 1. In the meantime, please let us know if you come across any issues in the comments. Hope to see you all in our mini-league!