The Champions League quarterfinal stage is set to go, and the eight teams here can now legitimately dream of lifting the trophy at the Wanda Metropolitano on June 1st. For football fans the world over, the long wait since the end of a roaring Round of 16 is nearly over, and we can again look forward to football of the highest quality.
Here are the fixtures for the UCL Quarterfinals First Leg:
Tuesday 9th April 2019
Wednesday 10th April
Matchday 8 was a prosperous one for my UCL Fantasy Team.
As mentioned in my last UCL Round of 16 2nd Leg Player Picks article, I chose to deploy my Limitless Wildcard Chip. The appealing fixture lineup coupled with the shrinking player pool were the key factors and it worked to devastating effect as my team returned a huge 106 point haul.
My great week saw me climb to the top of my mini league standings. I currently sit in 27th place in the NeverManageAlone Mini League. Lofty heights indeed!
STRATEGY AND TACTICS
UCL Fantasy managers now have 5 free transfers to refresh their teams. At this stage, you can also have up to 5 players from one team. Here are some of the strategic and tactical factors to consider when building (and managing) your Fantasy League teams for the Quarterfinal Phase:
Focus on your Core: A few shock results in the Round of 16 may have left some fantasy teams with huge holes to plug. Try to work out which clubs are likely to progress to the next round and build your team around them.
Bench Fodder: If your team starts with Ronaldo and Messi in the forward line, you’ll likely need to enforce fiscal cuts in other departments of your team. Unfortunately this stage of the competition, only Ajax and Porto offer us bargain options to balance our squads. A good tactic is to retain one or two dirt-cheap eliminated players to park on the bench as budget enablers - (NB: Once you sell an eliminated player there’s no way of getting him back).
Diamonds in the Rough: With just 8 teams left in the tourney, there are not many more secrets to be found. The “template” lineup is likely to arise so you need a few outside the box picks in your team to separate yourself from the competition. Pay attention to recent domestic form to find unheralded prospects with point potential.
Attacking Defenders: Clean sheets are premium at this stage of the game. However, defenders that can add attacking points to the haul are worth their weight in gold. Try to go for defenders who get forward regularly to join the attack, or who are involved in set piece routines.
Boosters Strategy: If you haven’t already played your boosters, time is running out fast. If you still haven’t yet played your wildcard and your team is in need of surgery, now may be a good time to call upon the Clean Slate option. As for the more lethal “Limitless Wildcard” chip, the effectiveness of this option shrinks with the player pool. The second leg looks most appealing for me, given that we’ll know who needs what from their games. Alternatively, you could save it for a later stage to zero in on specific teams for points.
Team Setup / Manager Subs: Make sure to set your starting team in chronological order according to the fixture schedule (players in the Tuesday fixtures must start first). Your first choice for the captain’s armband also needs to be a Tuesday player. Doing so gives you the flexibility to utilize your entire squad by the end of the round, and to roll the captaincy to the next day if needed.
Without further ado, here are my UCL QF Player Picks:
Allison (€5.6m, Liverpool vs Porto)
The Brazilian #1 and his solid back line will fancy his chances of a clean sheet against the Portuguese champs.
Ederson (€5.5m, Tottenham vs Manchester City)
Manchester City’s expressive Brazilian goalkeeper is a good shout for save points and maybe even a clean sheet against underdog Spurs.
Marc Andre Ter Stegen (€6.0m, Manchester United vs Barcelona)
The German shot stopper is in terrific form and could grab save and clean sheet points away to Manchester United.
Andre Onana (€4.6m, Ajax vs Juventus)
Ajax’s Cameroonian goalkeeper is kindly priced and will see lots of action against a highly rated Juventus outfit.
Gerard Pique (€6.0m, Manchester United vs Barcelona)
The vocal Barcelona stalwart will relish a return to his previous club when Barcelona visit Old Trafford. He can deliver points at either end of the pitch.
Joao Cancelo (€5.0m, Ajax vs Juventus)
The Portuguese full back has settled in nicely at Juve and is probably the biggest attacking threat in their fearsome defense. He’ll pepper the Ajax defense with crosses from wide that could bring assists.
Andy Robertson (€5.5m, Liverpool vs Porto)
If his domestic performances are anything to go by, then points are sure to follow. The Scottish full back is in superb form both defensively and offensively at the business end of the season for Liverpool.
Aymeric Laporte (€5.8m, Tottenham vs Manchester City)
The French defender is the most nailed-on Manchester City defender, making him the pick of the lot. He has been deployed at left-back in recent weeks, resulting in an increased attacking threat and penalty box involvement.
Hakim Ziyech (€7.0m, Ajax vs Juventus)
The silky smooth Moroccan midfielder was devastating against Real Madrid and should be at the heart of Ajax’s best moves as they aim to continue the fairy tale versus Juventus.
Raheem Sterling (€9.6m, Tottenham vs Manchester City)
The stage is set for one Mr. Sterling to deliver the goods as City hunt for an elusive Champion League title. They seem to always do well against Spurs, and you can expect points here if more of the same continues.
Sadio Mane (€9.0m, Liverpool vs Porto)
The Senegalese hot-rod gets the nod ahead of Mo Salah due to his more affordable price and the fact that he’s in better form at this stage of the season.
Heung-Min Son (€7.9m, Tottenham vs Manchester City)
The Korean winger returned to scoring ways with the first net in Spurs’ first game at their spanking new stadium. He’ll look to compound the feat when CL guests Man City arrive at their doorstep.
Cristiano Ronaldo (€11.9m, Ajax vs Juventus)
Despite being an injury doubt, CR7 is a must have for our teams. A 2nd leg hattrick against Atletico Madrid in the Round of 16 was simply the stuff of legends. This man wants the title and will stop at nothing to get it.
Lionel Messi (€11.6m, Manchester United vs Barcelona)
The Argentinian genius has been in absolutely ridiculous form for Barcelona and is an automatic choice for our teams.
Sergio Aguero (€10.3m, Tottenham vs Manchester City)
Kun Aguero has a certain fondness for Spurs, and the luster of the Champions League should only add to his motivation. He’ll most likely be the tormentor in chief when City visit White Hart Lane.
Roberto Firmino (€9.5m, Liverpool vs Porto)
The Brazilian striker has been strong form in recent matches, easing the scoring burden from the shoulders of Salah. He’ll be heavily involved in Liverpool’s attacking moves when Porto visit Anfield.
Where are you currently in your mini leagues? Do you plan to use any of your chips in the Round of 16? Which players are on your radar for this round of matches? And which matches will you watch as a fan? Please let us know in the comments below!