The draw for the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals has been completed, and the matchups have been announced. The first leg gets underway on April 3, 2018. Here is the draw in full:
UCL Fantasy Managers are now gifted with 5 free transfers to repair the damage from the round of 16’s eliminations and rebuild their teams for this next phase. Below we discuss some strategies and prospects to consider.
CL Knockout Stages Fantasy Strategy
Here are some important points to consider when preparing your teams for the Quarter-final stage.
- The Obvious — Do not even think twice. Do not try to be cute. Do not try to be the most interesting man in the world. Get Messi and Ronaldo in, then build the remainder of your team. Nothing more to be said here.
- Invest in Defense — At this phase, the cream is rising to the top, and the teams are more evenly matched. Expected closely contested, low scoring matches with clean sheet points on offer. Focus on defenders with attacking traits.
- Hoard the Trash — Retain a couple dirt cheap eliminated players as budget enablers so you can afford more expensive options elsewhere. Building a team from the current crop of clubs is going to be difficult at this stage, and every penny counts.
- Differentials — Finding differentials at this phase is akin to finding a diamond in the rough. Your mini-league rivals will likely now all have similar looking teams, so it’s important to look for value. Cheap guaranteed squad fillers at this phase are fantasy gold.
- Back the Winners — Try to lean heavily on the favorites to advance. The quarter-final phase allows you to have 5 players from any one team, and I would want to max out on Bayern players. Once they progress, it means you have less free transfers to burn on eliminated players in the next round.
Dissecting the Fixtures
Barcelona looked imperious in the Round of 16, navigating a difficult tie against Chelsea fairly comfortably. The Catalans are no doubt favorites to win it all.
The first name on the teamsheet is Lionel Messi who looks sharp and motivated and can hurt any team in the world. Luis Suarez has not been at his prolific best this year, but his quality cannot be overlooked. Andres Iniesta and Ousmane Dembele provide some solid midfield options. In defense, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is a great shout for clean sheets, and Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Samuel Umtiti all provide solid, reliable options.
Roma have performed admirably in Europe this season, doing well to emerge from a tricky tie with Ukrainian champs Shakhtar Donetsk. Surely they are underdogs here, but they do offer some promising fantasy prospects.
Edin Dzeko is the main man in attack, and has led the Roman charge throughout the entire campaign. Elsewhere in attack, Diego Perotti and Radja Naingoolan offer some possibilities, but it is young Cengiz Under — classed as a midfielder in the game — who looks to be a great acquisition. In defense, Aleksandar Kolarov offers a goal threat. Brazilian shot stopper Allisson and Kostas Manolas also offer good value.
Verdict: Barcelona to advance comfortably.
Wissam Ben Yedder was the star of the show, coming off the bench to snatch two clinical goals — definitely one to consider. Elsewhere in midfield, Pablo Sarabia and Joaquin Correa offer value. In defense, goalkeeper Sergio Rico, Clement Lenglet and Simon Kjaer will have the formidable task of withstanding the Germans’ attack.
Bayern Munich trounced Besiktas by an 8-1 aggregate over two legs and will be confident with this draw. Their main goal threat is Robert Lewandowski, but there is much value to be found elsewhere. Kingsley Coman is having the best season of his career, Arjen Robben lives for the Champions League, and there is a wealth of other attacking prospects such as Thomas Muller, Thiago Alcantara, Joshua Kimmich, Corentin Tolisso and James Rodriguez. In defense, Manuel Neuer may return in time to replace Sven Ulreich. David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, Nicholas Sule and company also provide great options.
Verdict: Bayern Munich to stroll in this one.
This tie pits together two teams who showed their pedigree and level of experience to emerge from difficult Round of 16 ties.
Juventus literally snatched the tie from the jaws of Spurs and will again rely on their Champions League knowhow. In attack, Gonzalo Higuain and Paolo Dybala are the chief goal threats. Douglas Costa represents the best midfield prospect, but the Juve defense is where it’s at. Gianluigi Buffon craves the one trophy that evades him and he will rely on a legendary defensive unit to help him there - Andre Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, and Alex Sandro are all worth a shout.
How good were Real Madrid against Paris Saint-Germain? Cristiano Ronaldo owns this competition and should be the first name on your teamsheet and captain choice. Elsewhere in attack, look to Karim Benzema, Isco, Marcos Asensio and Gareth Bale for possible options. The Madrid defense also provides great value with Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane in front of Keylor Navas in goal.
Verdict: Difficult tie to call but Real Madrid to prevail.
Liverpool waltzed through the Round of 16 on the back of a 5-0 first leg victory over Porto. Their next opponent will no doubt provide a much stiffer test.
Mo Salah is the number one option here. His stellar form this year is coupled with the fact that he’s already done damage against Manchester City in the domestic fixture. Elsewhere, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane complete Liverpool’s much vaunted attacking trio. In defense, Virgil Van Dijk and Andrew Robertson offer the best value in front of Loris Karius in goal.
Manchester City settled their Round of 16 tie with a first leg trouncing of Basel, but Liverpool will present a much trickier test. Here, they face the only team this season who were able to beat them comfortably. However, with the domestic title all but wrapped, City can better afford to focus on CL — advantage City.
In attack, Sergio “Kun” Aguero is the chief goal threat with Gabriel Jesus likely to compete for playing time (and Kun currently complaining of knee pain — something to watch). The midfield also boasts a number of scoring options — Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and David Silva will all feature. In defense, Nicolas Otamendi, Kyle Walker and Vincent Kompany must be considered along with Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson.
Verdict: Manchester City to advance, but this could be a goal fest.
Whom do you think will progress to the semi-finals? How do you plan to adjust your teams? Which players are you going to add in? Tell us in the comments below.