There were many surprises this season in a thrillingly wild Champions League. No, Real Madrid winning its third straight title and adding to its unbelievable trophy case was not really one of them. But Liverpool appearing in its first final since 2007, and knocking out Premier League record-setters Manchester City certainly was a bit of a shock. Similarly, Barcelona nearly went undefeated in a brilliant La Liga campaign but were knocked out in the Champions League quarterfinals. Los Blancos advancing further was a capper on the craziness.
Indeed, what stood out as odd was that a team finishing third domestically (Real Madrid) matched up in the end against the Premiership’s fourth-best Reds. On top of that, Serie A third place Roma made it to the semis ahead of first place Juventus, who had appeared in two of the prior three finals and engineered a memorable Round of 16 comeback against a Tottenham squad who had actually won its group ahead of Real Madrid. Meanwhile, Neymar and Ligue 1 titans Paris Saint Germain crashed out earlier than expected, in the Round of 16.
With all of that going on, it was great for the average fan, but doing well this season was no simple task for fantasy managers.
The final presented three basic options:
- Load up on Real Madrid, thinking that the La Liga giants would triumph easily,
- Invest heavily on Liverpool, seeing a big win from the exciting Premier League upstarts, or
- Go the middle route, taking the best players from both teams, expecting a close clash
Adopting the correct strategy and picking the right captain offered a big chance in theory to make up a lot of ground, while going the wrong way meant a possible trip several rungs down the leader ladder. In practice, however, it was all pretty much a wash. Unfortunately, the capper did little to shake things up, as points were hard to come by:
- Two of the four goals came from Gareth Bale, who entered as a substitute and thus did not feature in too many fantasy rosters,
- Karim Benzema’s goal was unassisted (Loris Karius will be happy not to get credit for that),
- Mo Salah left injured in the first half,
- Along with Salah, Roberto Firmino and Cristiano Ronaldo also failed to notch a goal or assist, and
- There were no clean sheets for keepers or defenders (although Marcelo and Dejan Lovren each chipped in with an assist).
That said, even for the vast majority of those who did not have Bale in their fantasy teams, I certainly don’t think anybody was complaining about getting to witness one of the greatest, most breath-taking goals ever scored, one that will be shown and re-shown in highlight reels for decades if not centuries to come:
With things settled for the season following the 3-1 Madrid victory, that left us with the following top 10, headlined by a dominant performance from LAMPCAMP2:
Final NeverManageAlone Group Leaderboard
- LAMPCAMP2 (752 points)
- MILK United (733 points)
- Ali Adel FC (730 points)
- Y2K FC (723 points)
- Royals Madrid (721 points)
- Nivasabidelmundo (714 points)
- (7T) Maregod (707 points)
- (7T) The RocknRollas (707 points)
- Nofreelunch* FC (703 points)
- FC REN (701 points)
It Was a Very Good Year
What will you remember most from 2017-18 Champions League:
- Cristiano Ronaldo scoring 15 goals, with at least one goal in a record 11 straight games,
- Three different Liverpool players notching 10 goals (Salah, Firmino and Mane),
- James Milner setting a record with nine assists,
- Besiktas winning its group in a shocker,
- Sevilla upsetting Manchester United for a place in the quarterfinals,
- The brilliant comeback by Juventus to beat Tottenham,
- The epic comeback from Roma against Barcelona, or
- Something else entirely?
Congratulations to LAMPCAMP2 for taking our group title, and bravo to the rest of you who did supremely well! No matter how you finished, hopefully you had fun watching the games, putting together your fantasy teams and interacting together in the community!
[In case you were wondering — or even if you weren’t — I finished tied for #37 in our group with 672 points.] Over a million people played globally! [I tied for #3,714 worldwide.]
How did your Champions League fantasy teams fare in 2017-18? Where did things go right for you this season, and where instead did it fall apart? Let us know in the comments!