Thanks to the guidance and advice of NMA’s two UCL experts, MiQ and Prakhar, I’d have to judge my first foray into fantasy Champions League a success. Seventy-nine points from my freshman effort is more than I could have hoped for.
I was especially happy with the eleven points I got from Ansu Fati, a return that equaled the raw score I got from my captain (and Fati’s strike partner), the legendary Lionel Messi.
Fati is a prime example of one of the benefits I wanted to take away from playing fantasy UCL: a better awareness of world football. Back in December, Fati became the youngest goalscorer in Champions League history at the age of 17 years and 40 days via this exquisitely-taken game-winner against Inter Milan:
Fati’s goal last week against Ferencváros made him the first player in history to score more than one goal in the competition before turning 18. He then followed that by becoming the second-youngest player to score in El Classico with this tidy finish on Saturday:
Fati’s list of “firsts” and “youngests” is mind-blowing, and he is undoubtedly one of the world’s most exciting players despite the fact that he is still just 17. And yet I had never heard of him before I sat down to select my matchday 1 fantasy UCL squad. I’m grateful that fantasy has put this generational player on my radar, and I’ll now enjoy following him as he chases his destiny to become one of the game’s greats.
OK, on to my matchday 2 squad then. When I selected my matchday 1 squad, I was under the impression that Alisson would be out of commission until early November. Consequently, I thought Adrian would be a solid play to get me all the way through the group stage. You can therefore imagine my surprise when Alisson started Liverpool’s Premier League game yesterday.
With Mikhail Kerzhakov facing a tough away match against Dortmund on Wednesday, I don’t feel like I can risk holding Adrian, who is unlikely to feature now that Alisson is back. But I have no surplus funds in my account, and there are no other options at Adrian’s 4.5M price who have good fixtures this week and also work well in an opposite-day rotation with Kerzhakov.
So I did something that is maybe a little bit outside the box: Jules Kounde currently carries a red warning flag, but not because he’s injured. He tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus on October 15, and so has been unavailable for selection. A 4.0M starter, I’d have brought him in for matchday 3 anyway (as will virtually every other fantasy UCL manager on earth).
So to free up a critical 0.5M, I just went ahead and brought him in early. He won’t play this week, but the extra cash generated by selling Hans Hateboer ahead of his tough match against Ajax allows me to spend 5.0M on a new keeper.
And my choice at that price is Porto’s Augustin Marchesin. The 32 year-old Argentinian has a very favorable match against Olympiacos tomorrow, and even if that doesn’t go well for him, I can always sub him off for Kerzhakov. Plus, now I won’t need to burn one of next week’s transfers on Kounde.
So presently my team looks like this, displayed by price, fixture, and date:
I haven’t set my bench because I haven’t actually pulled the trigger on the transfers yet. In FPL, and now in UCL, I like to wait until fairly close to the deadline before finalizing transfers since they are limited and irreversible. I’ll wait to make final decisions until team news and injury reports have filtered in after the weekend of domestic play. But ultimately I’ll fill my bench 100% with players who have matches on Wednesday.
I still feel like I’m kind of fumbling around in the dark by drafting in names I’ve never heard of from teams I don’t follow, but with Prakhar and MiQ shining some light on my path, I’m hoping to stumble upon success again this week.
But you can help me too. Transferring in a GK plus a budget defender who won’t even play this week doesn’t seem very sexy, but I think it will be what I end up doing. Is it the right move? Go ahead, rate my team!
How did matchday 1 go for you? Did your armband strategy pay off? Did your subs work out the way you hoped? Whom are you transferring out for matchday 2, and whom are you bringing in? Please tell us about your squad, and then share your opinion on mine!