The biggest club football competition in the world is around the corner, and we just can’t wait for the action to get going!!
Although last year’s Champions League was delayed by the Coronavirus, it was filled with enthralling matches when it resumed, and Bayern were a class above everyone else as they claimed the title convincingly at the end.
The official fantasy game is live now, and we have very little time to ponder how to build that perfect starting 11 in hopes of winning the amazing prizes at offer. If you’re playing the UCL fantasy for the first time, here’s what I keep in mind while building a squad from scratch. I hope it will help you beat your mates and claim those bragging rights. Let’s get right into it.
Analyze the groups
Now, this is the first thing you should be doing before you start building a team. Every season in the Champions League, there are some groups expected to be thoroughly dominated by the big clubs, and there are other groups that will be highly competitive. The nature of UCL is such that these expectations turn out to be true more often than not.
So, the key is to focus on maximizing the gains by picking players from teams who will be topping their respective groups or are expected to finish at least as the runners-up.
After this season’s draw, the groups that stand out for potential fantasy investment are group C, E and G. It looks like the group of death for this season will be Group H.
Pick a strong keeper
Unlike Fantasy Premier League, cheap keepers don’t work as well given the different format of the tournaments as well as the lack of viable options in the bargain bin. It’s always wise to invest more between the posts as the probability of clean sheets increases drastically compared to the Premier League given the sheer difference in quality of the sides.
For example, we know that the likes of Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester City and Atletico Madrid will likely keep a lot of clean sheets in the group stage as they will face relatively comfortable matches, so their shot-stoppers are a great shout for your fantasy team, at least until the group stage finishes.
Attacking defenders can benefit you greatly
As those of you who’ve been playing FPL for a long time know, attacking defenders are important fantasy assets. When it comes to UCL, that importance is even greater as dominant clubs will face weak opposition quite often, which will afford defenders more freedom to attack to score goals and provide assists.
Whenever building my squad before the season begins, I aim at picking two such defenders from the likes of Sergio Ramos, Joshua Kimmich, Jordi Alba, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kyle Walker etc. These defenders are guaranteed to earn good points in easier fixtures, and if some of them have an extremely easy group to deal with, it makes them into must-have picks.
Avoid going for too many premiums up front
I know how easy it is to be seduced by the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Lewandowski and Neymar in the forward positions, but investing in more than one of these stars will compromise the balance of your squad elsewhere. I prefer to have just one who costs around 12M, and then I find two in the 8.0-8.5M range.
This allows me to invest better in the midfield as well as defense and gives me a very flexible and balanced squad. From what I’ve experienced, spending more in the forward position will definitely prove fruitful on some weeks, but when the entire season is considered, you’ll lose a lot of points in midfield and defense.
To put it bluntly, you get more bang for your buck elsewhere.
Save the wildcard until the group stage is finished
Similar to FPL, wildcard remains the strongest chip at your disposal in UCL fantasy as well. The reason why I suggest saving it until the group stage ends is because it is better utilized when the bunch of players to pick from is narrow and you can predict who’s going to survive further in the tournament.
I tend to use mine before the round of 16 begins, enabling me to build a solid team and plan subsequent transfers to prepare a squad for the rest of the season.
Use the ‘Limitless Wildcard’ wisely
This chip serves the same purpose as the Free Hit in FPL. Now, the timing of deploying it is quite important as it can help you make massive gains in just a single week.
In my opinion, the ideal time to use the limitless wildcard is in a week where most of the big clubs have favorable fixtures so you can just fill the bench with cheapest players available and invest all your cash in the starting 11 to build the best possible squad.
However, you should use this chip carefully. The best time would be during the group stage, because the later stages will have tight, highly competitive matches reducing chances of scoring huge points (or predicting where they’ll land).
Pick a decent bench
UCL fantasy is a more flexible game than the Premier League fantasy in terms of the changes you can make to the starting 11 even while a game-week is going on. FPL only allows automatic substitution in case someone doesn’t play, but UCL fantasy lets you swap players who don’t perform well for the ones who have yet to play. Same thing applies to the captaincy as well.
Due to this peculiar trait of the game, a decent bench (with players whose matches are on different days) will give you an opportunity to make tweaks to your squad to create more chances to earn big points. Try to pick a bench consisting of players who are cheap but are regular starters and have some points potential.
Don’t take unnecessary hits
Well, this applies to any fantasy game, but in UCL, it’s even harder to follow. I’ve experienced the urge to bring in a premium with an easy fixture plenty of times, and I’ve taken hits on so many of those occasions as well, but what I’ve learned so far is that it’s pointless and illogical gambling, just as it is in FPL. Unless you have some injuries or other pressing situation, a hit is not necessary.
Keep the players you picked and remember the reason why you chose them, Don’t be swayed by the potential short term benefits; patience usually pays you dividends in fantasy football.
Don’t forget to substitute players in between the match-days
Well, this is actually not a tip but just something to keep in mind to avoid frustration. In between the days within a given game-week, UCL Fantasy allows you to rotate your squad by benching players who didn’t do well in exchange for bench players who are yet to play. Likewise, you can move your captain’s armband to a player who has not yet played.
It’s like free re-rolls of the dice, so neglecting to do this might result in loss of some points, so just make sure you shift players who have not performed to the bench and bring the ones with fixtures left to play.
To set yourself up to rotate this way, select players whose matches are on different days (e.g. Don’t buy all of your players from just one group). Then “start” the players whose matches play earlier in the week. If you are committed to managing through the week, you can even begin with big stars on your bench who play latest in the week. You know you’ll rotate them in, but seeing early results tells you where to put them (whom to bench) for maximum advantage.
That was pretty much everything you should be keeping in mind before starting to play the UCL fantasy. I must admit that it’s a relatively easier game as compared to FPL given it’s format, amount of transfers between stages as well as the number of people that participate, so a little bit of effort will go a long way.
We’ll be covering the player picks before the tournament starts as well as the captaincy picks for each day, and MiQ will be doing the detail analysis of each group, so keep checking the site for more content on the Champions League.
- If you haven’t already, register for the UCL Fantasy here.
- Then join the Never Manage Alone League.
- For what it’s worth, League Code to join = 41AYZDUHUH08
Good luck everyone for your UCL Fantasy endeavors this season! We’ll continue helping you attain those illustrious ranks and prizes.
What additional tips do you think are important ? Whom do you think will be the surprise player in the Champions League this season? Please let us know your thoughts in comments below!