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Champions League Player Picks: Round of 16 First Leg

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Welcome back Champions League football! Here are the best player prospects and strategies for the Round of 16 First Leg.

Kylian Mbappe - Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League
Kylian Mbappe tops our list of UCL Player Picks for the Round of 16 First Leg.
Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

After an extended break since the end of the Group Phase, Champions League football resumes as the Round of 16 1st Leg gets underway.

It’s time for us to dust off our UCL Fantasy teams and reconstruct them from scratch with the clean slate of unlimited transfers provided by the game.

It hasn’t been the greatest of season’s for my team so far this year, so I’ll be hoping for a strong second phase of the tournament to gain ground on my mini league rivals.

Here are the fixtures for UCL Round of 16 1st Leg.

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Tuesday 18th February

Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool

Dortmund vs Paris St. Germain

Wednesday 19th February

Atalanta vs Valencia

Tottenham vs RB Leipzig

Tuesday 25th February

Chelsea vs Bayern Munich

Napoli vs Barcelona

Wednesday 26th February

Lyon v Juventus

Real Madrid vs Manchester City

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Strategy & Tactics

Here are some of the factors to consider when building (and managing) your Fantasy League teams for the UCL Round of 16:

Built to Last: As the rounds progress and teams are eliminated, you will have fewer transfers to replace ousted players without taking hits. It’s important to build your team around a core of players likely to go far in the competition so that you won’t have huge knockout holes to fill in your teams.

Predict the Fixtures: A good starting place for picking your team is to try to predict the results across the fixture list. This can guide you as to where to invest and whom to avoid.

Look for Differentials: Keep an eye on clubs’ recent league form to uncover the diamonds in the rough. Outside of the household names, you’ll need the sleeping giants to make a difference.

Boosters Strategy: Do you still have your booster chips? If you haven’t yet deployed your wildcard and/or limitless wildcard, it should influence your transfer strategy. You can pick a team with a more short term view knowing that you are going to overhaul it in due course. On the other hand, if you’ve already used them then you need to focus on players that will be there to stay.

Bargain Basement: Look for dirt cheap starters to fill the outside positions in your squad. This is important as they will enable spending top dollar for the top billed players elsewhere in your squad. As the knockouts progress, consider holding onto these cheapies (if you lose them, you won’t be able to get them back in from deactivated teams).

Team Setup / Manager Subs: Make sure to construct your starting team in chronological order according to the fixture schedule (players in earlier fixtures must start first). Doing so gives you the flexibility to utilize your entire squad by the end of the round. Also, don’t forget to set your captain to a player with a game on the very first day of the round and roll the captaincy daily until you get a favorable point haul.

Burn the Bench: As a last ditch desperation tactic (e.g. in the final round (start sacrificing slot on your bench by filling them with min-priced deadwood.

Without further ado, here are my UCL Matchday 6 Player Picks:

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GOALKEEPERS

Juventus v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
Wojciech Szczesny tops the list of goalkeeper player picks for the UCL Round of 16 First Leg.
Photo by Giorgio Perottino - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Wojceich Szcezney (Juventus, €5.5m)

The Italian champs returned to the top of Serie A over the weekend. The Polish shot stopper has been in fine form and is a good shout for a clean sheet for the visit to Lyon.

Alisson (Liverpool, €5.7m)

Since returning from injury, the Brazilian goalkeeper has conceded just one goal in 8 games. He’ll need to be on top form for the trip to Atletico Madrid.

Jaume Domenech (Valencia, €4.5m)

An injury to Jasper Cillessen has seen the French stopper elevated to first choice and he has acquitted himself. He should see lots of action against a hungry Atalanta outfit.

Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid, €5.9m)

La Liga’s player of the month for January is finally exhibiting the form to match his reputation as one of the world’s best goalies. Visiting Manchester City are sure to provide a stern test, and save points should be on offer.

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham, €5.3m)

The French captain’s return from injury has coincided with a good run of results for Spurs. Expect a pragmatic approach from Jose Mourinho’s men in the 1st leg which has potential for a clean sheet.

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DEFENDERS

Trent Alexander-Arnold - Liverpool FC - Premier League
Trent Alexander-Arnold will hog the lion’s share of set pieces for Liverpool’s trip to Atletico Madrid in the UCL Round of 16 First Leg.
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool, €6.8m)

Without a doubt the most attacking defender in the competition, the English full back is worth every cent of his hefty price.

Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid, €6.6m)

The Spanish captain relishes these big European matches. He has strong set piece threat and is also an option for penalty kicks.

Gerard Pique (Barcelona, €6.0m)

Another Spanish leader who is a reference point in the knockout stages. Napoli should hold little fear for Quique Setien’s men.

Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund, €5.9m)

Two goals in the Bundesliga domestic fixture underline the attacking potential of the Portuguese full back in what should be an open an entertaining tie.

Matthias De Ligt (Juventus, €6.5m)

The fierce Dutch stopper will look to impose his will against a plucky Lyon front line. Also a threat on set pieces.

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MIDFIELDERS

Lucas Moura - Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Who will replace Son? Lucas Moura might.
Photo by Visionhaus

Heung-Min Son (Tottenham, €9.7m)

The absence of the injured Harry Kane has elevated the South Korean superstar to main man at Tottenham. Two goals at the weekend underlined his potential as Spurs welcome RB Leipzig in the 1st leg. Injured, possibly out for season :(

Mo Salah (Liverpool, €11.1m)

He’s been the main man for Jurgen Klopp’s men, operating in several positions across the front line. Atletico Madrid’s men will be tough customers, but he has enough quality to pick the lock in this leg and beyond.

Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund, €9.0m)

The youthful English winger should be in the thick of the action in what promises to be a howitzer of an affair against Paris St. Germain.

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, €10.4m)

The mercurial Belgian midfielder will be at the heart of everything for Manchester City as they bid for an elusive title before an impending UCL ban kicks in.

Josip Ilicic (Atalanta, €6.2m)

The Slovenian midfielder has been in white hot form for Atalanta over the last few weeks and will hope to score the goals to help continue his club’s fairytale run in the competition.

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FORWARDS

Barcelona V Getafe
Leo Messi carries the hopes of Barcelona against Napoli as the UCL Round of 16 First Leg gets underway.
Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Lionel Messi (Barcelona, €11.5m)

The Argentinian genius will (as always) be the one to pull the strings for Barcelona for the 1st leg visit to Naples.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus, €10.5m)

The Portuguese legend shoulders the brunt of scoring responsibility for Maurizio Sarri’s men and will look to build on his record setting Champions League record against Lyon.

Kylian Mbappe (Paris St. Germain, €10.5m)

The French golden boy should relish the open, attacking affair that should take place against a youthful Dortmund outfit.

Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, €10.8m)

A trip to Stamford Bridge against a notably accommodating Chelsea defense should hold little fear for the Champions League’s top scorer.

Duvan Zapata (Atalanta, €8.4m)

The Colombian striker will lead the line for Atalanta who will be on full throttle to gain a 1st leg advantage against visiting Valencia. The absence of the suspended Gabriel Paulista also plays in his favor.

Erling Braut Haaland (Atalanta, €4.7m)

Just how hot has Dortmund’s new signing been? The Norwegian prodigy has been on fire since his debut for Lucien Favre’s men and will spearhead their attack.

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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 whom you would recommend? Which match do you most want to watch as a fan? Please let us know in the comments!

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