The UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals are here and we’re down to the last eight. Europe’s finest will compete over two legs for a place in the semifinals, so there are some exciting match-ups to come.
Here are the fixtures for the first leg:
Tuesday 3rd April, 2018
Wednesday 4th April, 2018
As always, we’ll lean more heavily towards the teams with favorable fixtures in our hunt for fantasy returns. The UCL Fantasy game gives us 5 free transfers to rebuild our squads and now affords the option of having 5 players per team.
From my earlier article covering opening thoughts on the quarterfinal draw, here is a reminder of some useful strategies:
- The Obvious — Don’t think twice. Don’t try to be cute. Don’t try to be the most interesting man in the world. Get Messi and Ronaldo in, then build out the remainder of your team. Nothing more to be said here.
- Invest in Defense — At this phase, the cream has risen to the top. Games will be more closely contested, increasing the probability of low scoring matches. Focus on defenders with attacking traits that can also double as clean sheet potential.
- Stash the Trash — Don’t be afraid to retain one or two minimum-priced non-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, so 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, starting 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, so you can load up with players likely to figure in the semis. Once they progress, it means you need burn fewer free transfers replacing eliminated players in the next round.
Now let’s check out the player picks for the UCL Quarterfinals:
Marc Andre Ter Stegen (Barcelona - 6.0m)
He’s up against a Roma outfit that may offer little attacking threat, so he’s a great shout for clean sheet points.
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus - 6.5m)
The Juventus rearguard can always be backed for clean sheet points at home — even against a formidable rival like Real Madrid.
Keylor Navas (Real Madrid - 5.7m)
The Costa Rican stopper will need to be at his best to repel the Juventus attack in a tricky tie.
Allison Becker (Roma - 5.8m)
He’ll have his work cut out against a rampant Barcelona - which could mean huge save points to come.
Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba (Barcelona - 6.4m, 6.4m)
Along with the previously mentioned clean sheet potential, both defenders offer the best attacking potential in the Barcelona defense.
Sergio Ramos, Marcelo (Real Madrid - 6.1m, 6.3m)
Ramos has a renowned penchant for delivering big goals in the biggest games — and the Juventus tie will be huge. Marcelo’s marauding raids from left back always offer the potential for points.
Mats Hummels, David Alaba (Bayern Munich - 6.0m, 6.6m)
Bayern are favorites against Sevilla, so their defenders are definitely worth investment. Hummels is a set piece threat, and Alaba offers attacking impetus and a free kick alternative.
Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City - 5.5m)
A clean sheet against the Liverpool attacking trident might be a big task, but the Argentinian stopper is a huge set piece threat.
Alex Sandro, Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus - 6.0m, 6.1m)
These two represent the best attacking options in Juve’s fabled defense.
Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich - 8.7m, 7.7m)
I’m backing the old guard here. They have been in form in the domestic league, and with their contracts set to end in the summer, this could be their swansong for Bayern.
Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona - 6.9m, 7.3m)
Iniesta is playing a Zen level of football in the twilight of his career and is the creative focal point for Barca. Rakitic can also pop up with a goal or assist.
Cengiz Under (Roma - 7.0m)
The young Turkish sensation is the game’s value pick at the moment and, while listed as a midfielder, should partner Edin Dzeko up front.
Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, David Silva (Manchester City - 8.7m, 8.4m, 8.1m)
I mentioned three City midfielders and still had no room for the mercurial Kevin De Bruyne, only because of his deeper role. This fixture screams goals, and the City midfield presents so many options.
Joaquin Correa (Sevilla - 6.0m)
Listed as a midfielder in the game but playing further forward, Correa is in strong form entering his first leg home tie vs Bayern.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona - 12.1m)
Messi is in lightning form as demonstrated in his recent cameo against Sevilla. Back him to put Roma to the sword.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid - 12.6m)
The UEFA Champions League poster boy will likely add to his record-breaking UCL goals-tally as he leads Real Madrid’s bid for a third successive trophy.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich - 11.2m)
Fresh off a hat trick against domestic archrivals Borussia Dortmund, Lewandowski will be Bayern’s main goal threat against Sevilla.
Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus - 10.6m)
The Argentinian striker will spearhead the Juve attack as they cross swords with Real Madrid. Could he deliver?
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City - 10.7m)
Kun Aguero should be fit for the midweek clash, so if the fixture delivers on its promise of goals, he should be involved.
Mo Salah (Liverpool - 10.0m)
Probably Europe’s player of the season, Salah just can’t stop scoring at the moment. Can City find a way to stop the Egyptian genie?
How are you doing in your mini leagues? Who are you getting in for your team? How are you managing with the budget? Whom do you think will advance to the semis? Please share your thoughts in the comments.