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Lessons Learned From The First Three Champions League Matchdays

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Let’s take a brief look at what this season’s UCL Fantasy has taught us in terms of strategy as well some general lessons to keep in mind for the season ahead.

Cristiano Ronaldo helps Lionel Messi - Real Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Victor Carretero/Real Madrid via Getty Images

This season’s Champions League has delivered plenty of exciting matches already with a few surprising results here and there. What’s amazing is that we’re only halfway through the group stage.

Three matches into the group stage, there have been a few things to be learned in terms of our approach to the UCL Fantasy. I will be highlighting the way things have turned out for me personally and what needs to be taken away as potential ways to improve my chances of scoring more points.

I am sure a lot of people must have made the same mistakes as I, so let’s try to learn from them and improve ourselves because that’s all we can do in a game that involves so much luck. Let’s get right into it.

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Being a bit too brave

FC Bayern Muenchen v Eintracht Frankfurt - Bundesliga Photo by Lukas Barth-Tuttas - Pool/Getty Images

Including a Bayern defender at the start of the season was pretty much a no brainer, but what has gone wrong for me is the defender I chose. I went for Benjamin Pavard ahead of the popular Joshua Kimmich for two reasons: price and the desire to be different from others. Now, I am not suggesting Pavard is not a good option, but what needs to be noted here is not to overthink certain decisions. Kimmich has scored 28 points in three matchdays, averaging 9.33 points per game to Pavard’s 4.66. In some cases like this one, there’s no alternative to be found in the first place.

In a tournament that’s relatively short compared to FPL, it’s important to find the balance between a conservative approach and picking up a few differentials. Swaying too much either way certainly involves a lot of risk. A single decision of Pavard over Kimmich has cost me 14 points and we’re just 3 matches into the tournament. One to take on the chin and move on.

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Swapping premiums

Selling souvenirs in St Petersburg, Russia Photo by Sergei Konkov\TASS via Getty Images

This is something I have been trying to implement in UCL Fantasy for a long time, but the potential to score more points always gets the better of me. For example, I started the season with Messi because of Barca’s fixtures, but I knew I’d bring in Lewandowski at some stage for Bayern’s form, his ownership and explosiveness.

Messi scored 22 points as my captain on the first match day, but Lewandowski fixtures from matchday 2 were too hard to ignore, pushing me to make an immediate switch. As things have penned out, Messi has outscored the polish talisman by 11 points across the three matchdays. I hope this finally serves as a lesson for me to not chase points by changing premiums; stick to one and reap the intermittent rewards.

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Picking too many differentials

Club Brugge KV v Borussia Dortmund: Group F - UEFA Champions League Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images

I started my season with the guy in the picture hoping he would turn out to be an amazing differential for me. It hasn’t turned out the way I was expecting. Now, when introspecting about fantasy choices, it’s important to recall what made you choose a certain player. In Marco’s case, it was that I absolutely admire him as a player as well as a person. Personal bias fails in fantasy football more often than not.

It’s totally fine if a couple of differentials don’t work out well, but the thing I have learned is not to pick too many of them. I was looking at the ownership of the players I started with, and it turns out I had 6 players out of 15 with an ownership of 4% or below. Now, that’s a bit too risky, so finding the right balance can look quite impossible but what we can do is not to go too far with the whole picking the differentials thing.

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Messi still the Champions League boss

FC Barcelona v Dynamo Kyiv: Group G - UEFA Champions League Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

Given Barca’s past performances in the competition and their current La Liga form, a lot of people were skeptical about Messi coming into this season’s UCL. But, as usual, he proved us all wrong again, which he’s been doing for like 15 years. He has already scored three goals and provided an assist in three games, and he has two very good fixtures coming up from the remaining three in the group stage.

Sitting at 25 points, Messi has out-earned every striker in fantasy UCL except Alassane Plea from Borussia Monchengladbach who has scored 28. He is undoubtedly the best player in the world, and he keeps us showing week in and week out why. I regret selling him after the first matchday, but I am seriously considering bringing him back in for the remaining group stage fixtures. He looks determined, unlike what a lot of people are suggesting, and I am certain he will carry on the way he has been performing so far.

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Erling Braut Haaland looks like a must-have

Club Brugge v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League Photo by Angelo Blankespoor/Soccrates/Getty Images

This guy’s phenomenal. I started with Romelu Lukaku in my fantasy team from the pool of €11m strikers, and it did pay off on the opening match-day, but he hasn’t since as the Belgian got injured. I went for Lukaku ahead of Haaland due to the fixtures as well as the inclination to do something different, but again as I said in the first point, being too brave is something I need to get a hold of quickly to avoid any further damage.

Haaland has scored 22 points in three fixtures that weren’t exactly comfortable. He is owned by 39% of managers and is quickly moving towards the tag of a ‘must-have’. It’s super hard to fit in these mega stars together, but if you have a striker in a similar price range who has been underperforming, then there isn’t a better option than the Norwegian striker to replace him.

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So that’s pretty much it for my key learnings from the three match-days so far. If you haven’t been doing quite well like myself, don’t worry, as there’s still a whole lot of time to make up ground and finish with a great rank.

I hope this article was able to help you a bit and we’ll continue helping everyone achieve those illustrious ranks in UCL Fantasy and dominate those mini-leagues.

Cheers,

Prakhar

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What other points do you think should be a part of the lessons learned list? Which players do you think have been underperforming but will improve after the pause and start delivering decent fantasy points? What is something you have learned and think you should improve in terms of your approach to the game? Please let us know in the comments below.

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