The Champions League gets underway this week, so it's time to pick our teams ahead of CL Matchday 1. If you have not already, be sure to read the NMA primer on rules, scoring and strategy that also covers changes from last season to this one.
Here are this week's fixtures covering Matchday 1:
Tuesday 18th September
- Barcelona vs PSV Eindhoven
- Inter Milan vs Tottenham
- Club Brugge vs Borussia Dortmund
- Crvena Zvezda vs Napoli
- Galatasaray vs Lokomotiv Moscow
- Liverpool vs Paris Saint-Germain
- Monaco vs Atletico Madrid
- Schalke vs FC Porto
Wednesday 19th September
- Ajax vs AEK Athens
- Shakhtar Donetsk vs Hoffenheim
- BSC Young Boys Bern vs Manchester United
- Benfica vs Bayern Munich
- FC Viktoria Plzen vs CSKA Moscow
- Manchester City vs Lyon
- Real Madrid vs Roma
- Valencia vs Juventus
CL Fantasy Managers will spend the next couple days fine tuning their teams. I've done these player picks considering the group stage dynamics. Given that we have wildcards and chips to rectify any problems, I'm not only focusing on players and teams in favorable groups but also looking at teams who have a great first-three fixtures. There is a mix of premium and lower level picks to consider in every position.
Without further ado, here are the picks for the Champions League group stages.
Marc Andre Ter Stegen (Barcelona, €6.0m)
Group B looks tricky but the German shot stopper should be a dependable shout for clean sheets and save points.
Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid, €6.0m)
The last line of defense in front of a beastly Atletico Madrid defense. A favorable group makes him one of the top picks for clean sheets in Group A.
Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich, €6.0m)
Roman Burki (Borussia Dortmund, €5.5m)
The Dortmund shot stopper is quality and should return save points and clean sheets in CL Group A.
Ederson (Manchester City, €5.5m)
Clean sheet points should be a certainty in a cakewalk of a Group F. With his distribution, don’t be surprised if he even gets you an assist or two.
Allison (Liverpool, €5.5m)
If their domestic form at the start of this season is anything to go buy, Liverpool will be set for another deep run in the Champions League. New signing Allison will be depended on to keep the sheets clean for Liverpool l.
Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus, €5.5m)
The Polish keeper steps into the Juventus #1 spot to fill the huge vacancy left by the departure of Gianluigi Buffon. The fearsome Bianconeri defense should help to ease this transition.
Marcelo (Real Madrid, €6.5m)
The ever present, ever attacking Madrid full back has the reputation of going forward with reckless abandon — which is great for fantasy points.
Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid, €6.0m)
Atlético Madrid's veteran captain and leader at the back, the Uruguayan is also a huge threat on set pieces.
Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona, €6.0m)
The French World Cup winner unseats his teammate Gerard Pique as the Barcelona central defender of choice. Can pop up with the odd header goal off set pieces.
Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City, €6.0m)
Another French World Cup winner who looks absolutely unstoppable on the left of Manchester City defense. With an unlimited license to bomb forward, he has already racked up a hailstorm of assists in the English Premier League. Be sure to keep an eye on injury news, as Mendy missed out over the weekend.
Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich, €6.0m)
The German international right back/right winger gets forward regularly and contributes assists and goals. Definitely worth the significant investment.
Alex Telles (Porto, €5.5m)
The Porto left back is a crucial attacking outlet and is on free kicks and corners. He's even in the frame for penalty kicks.
Mo Salah (Liverpool, €11.0m)
A change in classification to midfield boosts the appeal of Liverpool's talisman. He hasn't had the best start to his domestic season, but it's only a matter of time before he gets going.
Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund, €9.0m)
The German international has had an excellent start to the season and will look to retain form and fitness for the upcoming campaign. If he can maintain his level he will definitely be one to monitor.
Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona, €8.5m)
The diminutive Brazilian should provide creativity and a direct goal threat from Barcelona midfield.
Marcos Asensio (Real Madrid, €8.0m)
The Spanish starlet is in scintillating form for club and country. Could be a nice Real Madrid differential pick at a bargain price.
Manuel Fernandes (Lokomotiv Moscow, €7.5m)
The Portuguese midfielder hogs all set pieces for Lokomotiv Moscow including penalties. A fairly promising group should see him deliver returns.
Yacine Brahimi (Porto, €7.0m)
The Algerian has started the season in fine form and will look to carry that into the Champions League.
Pizzi (Benfica, €6.5m)
The Portuguese central midfielder is the focal point for his team and has the lion's share of set pieces. 6 goals and 2 assists for the season so far certainly catch the eye.
Alan Patrick (Shakhtar Donetsk, €5.0m)
Shakhtar Donetsk will be happy with their group and so will their latest Brazilian prodigy.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus, €12.0m)
The Champions League's greatest player begins a new chapter at Juventus and will be keen to build on his record goals tally. Two Serie A goals today means he's off the mark and raring to go.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona, €11.5m)
As always, Messi is at the “first name on our teams” level. Would take a brave manager to disregard him.
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain, €11.0m)
Everything at PSG runs through the Brazilian genius. Above all, he has a point to prove after a disappointing World Cup. He can do this with goals and assists for our teams.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, €11.0m)
The Bundesliga front man will be relied on to deliver the goals in a very accommodating group.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City, €10.5m)
Manchester City’s hotshot Argentinian striker has started the season in white hot form and should grab goals in a group that looks easy on paper.
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid, €10.5m)
Following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, the Welsh dynamo should relish his role as the main man at Real Madrid.
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain, €10.0m)
The French World Cup winner will want to etch his name in the elite club of world class players this year. Definitely one to consider.
Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan, €10.0)
Inter Milan make a welcome return to the Champions League and the Argentinian marksman will carry their hopes of success in a difficult Group.
Edin Dzeko (Roma, €10.0m)
The Bosnian striker seems capable of scoring goals against anyone. Roma will rely on him to continue his fine form in Group G.
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, €9.5m)
The loss of Ronaldo places more responsibility on the French striker to be a goal finisher rather than a facilitator. He's had a strong start to the season and will want to make his mark on the biggest stage.
Vincent Aboubakar (Porto, €6.5m)
The Porto striker has the potential to score goals in the same quantity as the more renowned forwards, but at a bargain price.
Junior Moraes (Shakhtar Donetsk, €6.0m)
The journeyman Brazilian striker has had a superb start to the season leading the line for Shakhtar Donetsk. At an affordable price he may be a great value pick to enable big purchases elsewhere.
HOW TO JOIN THE NEVER MANAGE ALONE LEAGUE
SIGNING UP FOR UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FANTASY
If you have not already done so, you will want to register at the UEFA site. Then you need to create your Champions League fantasy team, selecting all 15 players, your captain, a badge and your team name.
JOINING THE NMA LEAGUE
It’s great to play against everybody in the world, but it’s also brilliant fun competing against the whip-smart Never Manage Alone bloggers and our global gathering of savvy community members. So once you have registered and created your team, you will want to be sure to join the NMA league.
LEAGUE NAME: NeverManageAlone
LEAGUE CODE: 71305GBP
(Enter the league name and code, then click on “Join.”)
Have you picked your team yet? Whom do you have your eyes on who has been mentioned above? Is there anyone who has been left out of this article that you would recommend? Which match do you most want to watch this week? Please let us know in the comments!