The UEFA Champions League Semifinals are here! One tie features a blockbuster battle between European heavyweights, and the other features two unlikely protagonists who have thrilled the football world with their route to the semis. Each will compete over two legs for a place in the Champions League Final, which will be played on May 26th at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine.
Here are the fixtures for the first leg:
Tuesday 24th April, 2018
Wednesday 25th April, 2018
UCL Fantasy League managers now have 5 free transfers to adjust their teams, and we can select up to 6 players per team.
Let’s start with the bad news: If you’re behind in your mini leagues and have ground to make up, it’s going to be very difficult to make moves at this stage. With everyone fishing in the same pond, and with a set-and-forget captain option in Cristiano Ronaldo, differentials are difficult and near impossible to come by.
The good news is that I’m here to help. Here are some useful, maybe even drastic strategies to consider that can give you that elusive edge over your rivals:
- Hunt the Differentials — Everyone will have similar players at this stage, so pay attention to the match previews and team news for likely differentials. An injury or suspension to a fantasy favorite may open the door for a lowly, unowned and unlikely hero to emerge.
- Gamble! — If your team is in a good place, you’ll be looking for a good balance with the best players on offer. But if you have nothing left to lose, why not gamble? Choose the team you think will take it all, load up on their players and let it ride like Friday night in Las Vegas. All in!
- The Defensive Blitz — Play hard for a clean sheet by filling out your entire defense (and keeper) with players from one team. If they get the clean sheet, big points will roll in and may separate you from the remainder of the league running balanced lineups.
- Back the Winner — Lean heavily on players from the team you think will take it all. This will work well for the semifinals and also leave you with flexibility for the final where you can only pick from the two teams.
- Stash the Trash / Burn the Bench — Forget manager substitutions. Settle on your starting lineup and paper your bench min-price fillers. You’ll need the money elsewhere.
Now let’s check out the player picks for the UCL Semifinals:
Lorius Karius (Liverpool - 5.6m)
Liverpool are the favorites in this tie and their defense has been notably more solid of late. Karius is in excellent form as well.
Sven Ulreich (Bayern Munich- 5.2m)
Bayern’s stand in keeper has shown impressive recent form and will have his work cut out against the defending champs. Word of caution - Neuer is back training.
Keylor Navas (Real Madrid - 5.7m)
The Costa Rican stopper could be boosted by Mr. Perez’s recent endorsement and will be key in this matchup.
Allison Becker (Roma - 5.9m)
The Brazilian number one will have plenty of work to do against the breathless Liverpool front line. He got a clean sheet against Barcelona; can he repeat the feat here?
Virgil Van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool - 6.0m, 4.3m)
Liverpool’s defense has been much better for the second half of the season. Van Dijk is a key reason and also a threat from set pieces. Young “TAA” is on free kick duty and also cheap as chips.
Sergio Ramos, Marcelo (Real Madrid - 6.1m, 6.3m)
Ramos returns from suspension and is a big game player. Marcelo’s left-back raids delivered a goal in the quarterfinals and he can be trusted to do more of the same.
Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich - 6.0m, 5.9m)
The Bayern rearguard will be severely tested but have the pedigree to prevail. Both Hummels and Boateng at the heart of their defense also offer a threat from set pieces.
Aleksander Kolarov, Kostas Manolas (Roma - 6.0m, 6.1m)
Much of Roma’s hopes will rest on these two defensive stalwarts who also boast exceptional attacking potential. Maybe we’ll even be treated to one of Kolarov’s famous booming free kicks.
Arjen Robben, Thiago (Bayern Munich - 8.6m, 8.2m)
Robben lives for the big occasions and is playing for a contract renewal. Spanish wizard Thiago also looks a good option in the Bayern midfield.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool - 7.3m)
Most of the meat on the Liverpool bone is in the forward line, but “The Ox” represents the most attacking midfield option available.
Radja Naingoolan, Cengiz Under (Roma - 8.5, 7.0m)
Roma will depend heavily on their experienced leader Naingoolan and their young breakthrough sensation to trouble the Liverpool defense.
Toni Kroos, Luka Modric (Real Madrid - 6.9m, 8.0m)
The creative forces in the Real Madrid engine room are always the first point of call for the champions’ best attacking forays. Kroos is also on free kicks.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid - 12.8m)
He broke the record, so every consecutive Champions League game will cement his legacy. He owns the tournement.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich - 11.3m)
The Polish marksman will be Bayern’s chief threat in front of goal in this matchup. Big players deliver in big games.
Edin Dzeko (Roma - 10.9m)
He seems able to score no matter the opponents and no matter the odds. Roma’s target man is unplayable at times.
Mo Salah (Liverpool - 10.1m)
There is just no stopping him. Unstoppable in both domestic and European competition, this man is having the season of his life and will hope it leads to a Champions League trophy.
How are you doing in your mini leagues? Whom are you bringing in for your team this round? Whom do you think will get to the final, and who will win it all? Please share your thoughts in the comments.