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Let’s Get Started: Champions League Fantasy

Finally after hibernation, the Champions League returns. The first round of the group stage begins tomorrow so let’s evaluate the teams and players that you’ll need to dominate your league. 

Real Madrid v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Analyzing the Groups

At this stage of the Champions League, the groups play such an important role in deciding your fantasy squads. Selecting players in a so called “group of death” could be a dangerous play, but selecting players from relatively easier groups can help you score big points early in the season. The first group I’m looking to buy players from is Group A, specifically from Arsenal. Though they have PSG in their group, they aren’t the same team that ran rampant in Ligue 1 last year. With a new coach in Unai Emery that seems to still be getting his feet under him, no Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and misfiring strikers, I like Arsenal’s chances of topping Group A. For this round of fixtures, I’m starting Theo Walcott as striker, but keeping Nacho Monreal on the bench, because there is always the chance Arsenal’s defense can have an off day and PSG can put a few past them. I’m also liking Napoli’s chances in Group B. I’m staring Kalidou Koulibaly with Pepe Reina in goal in hopes of doubling up points with a shutout against Dynamo Kiev. It might not be a bad idea to pick up some of Napoli’s offensive threats as well, they’ve scored nine goals in the opening three matches of Serie A.

Stick with Teams Who Will Go Deep into the Competition

On UEFA’s official site, you get limited transfers once your team is set and the first match day is played. Yet between the group stage and the round of 16, you can change your team as much as you like. This gives fantasy players a lot of freedom and negates the worry that some of your players might not make it out of the group stage. That being said, I like to stick with players who I believe will make it deep into the competition. The less you have to tinker with your team the further along in the competition you get the better. Besides, most of the players we end up choosing will be from the bigger teams anyway. For this reason, I have most of my squad made of players from Manchester City, Barcelona, Juventus, and Bayern Munich. The deeper these teams go in the competition, the better form their players will have and the more confidence they’ll gain.

Pay Attention to the Domestic Leagues

I believe this is the most important piece of advice to take from this article. The schedule for the Champions League is a bit sporadic, a player can have a god awful time in their last group stage match, pick up a bit of form over the next month until their Round of 16 match. Since you have as many free transfers as you want during the period between the group stage and Round of 16, watch the domestic leagues as much as you can between December 7th and February. Teams as a whole may dip in form, they might start conceding like crazy, players may get injured, and some may go on a prolific scoring run. Also keep in mind that teams are going to be rotating a lot during the group stage. Most of these teams will deal with multiple competitions at once and players will pick up knocks here and there. Players that don’t usually start in the league have a good chance of starting in the Champions League depending on how their managers want to rotate the squad and the difficulty of the upcoming fixtures in both the league and the Champions League.

Check out my team I have starting for this week, let me know what you guys think in the comments below! Who have you got picked for the Champions League campaign?

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