The conclusion of November’s international break means it’s time to examine our Champions League squads for holes that need filling.
Here are our best choices if you are in need of transfer ideas.
Remko Pasveer (€4.9m, Besiktas vs Ajax)
With 1st choice keeper Maarten Stekelenburg out for the rest of the season, 38-year-old veteran Pasveer has been a wall at the back for Ajax. Hosting Besiktas in the MD-2 reverse fixture, Pasveer was relatively untroubled for the entire game as Ajax restricted Besiktas to just four shots with an xG of 0.51. Facing Besiktas and Sporting CP in MD-5 and MD-6 could spell two easy clean sheets for Pasveer if things go to plan for Erik Ten Hag’s men.
Philipp Köhn (€4.5m, LOSC Lille vs RB Salzburg)
With Salzburg facing Lille and Sevilla in the last two group-stage fixtures, the Redbull club’s starting GK Köhn has a high clean sheet and save-points potential. When Salzburg hosted Lille in MD-2, the Austrian club managed to restrict Lille to an xG of 0.46 and was counted a touch unlucky to concede. Köhn also has meritable save-points potential against Sevilla, making the Swiss keeper a good longer-term pick.
Maximilian Wober (€4.1m, LOSC Lille vs RB Salzburg)
Wober is one of the cheapest starting defenders in the game, priced at a measly €4.1m. Wober is a mainstay in an improving Salzburg defense and also offers a goal threat as we saw the Austrian score a brilliant free kick in MD-4. Adding to his goal threat, Wober also has a decent ball recovery potential, making him an exciting enabling pick.
Davide Zappacosta (€4.3m, Young boys vs Atalanta)
Zappacosta is the cheapest route into a solid Atalanta defense. In MD-2, Atalanta restricted Young Boys to just three shots for an xG of 0.07 and kept a comfortable clean sheet. In MD-5 the Black & Blues are once again favorites to not concede, making Zappacosta a reliable fantasy asset. In addition to the high clean sheet potential, the former Chelsea defender also has great assist potential, having already provided two assists in four UCL appearances.
Jordi Alba (€6m, Barcelona vs Benfica)
Xavi’s first game in charge saw Barcelona grind out a solid 1-0 win in the Catalan Derby, Jordi Alba shining for the Blaugranas. Alba was a rock in defense and combined well with Frenkie Dejong and Gavi to whip dangerous crosses into the Espanyol box. Despite Barcelona’s poor season so far, Alba has posted respectable numbers, providing four assists in nine league appearances plus a player of the match performance in UCL MD-3. Although the MD-2 reverse fixture against Benfica didn’t go Barca’s way, Xavi’s appointment seems to have lifted the club’s spirits, making Alba a solid pick for MD-5.
Thomas Meunier (€5.5m, Sporting CP vs Dortmund)
Dortmund’s defense has progressively improved this season, but unlike many other defenders, Meunier doesn’t just depend on clean sheets to get UCL points. Meunier has made 27 ball recoveries in four UCL appearances so far and also has excellent assist potential. With Dortmund facing Sporting CP and Besiktas in MD-5 & MD-6, Meunier is a good longer-term pick as both fixtures offer high clean sheet potential.
Trent Alexander Arnold (€6.4m, Liverpool vs Porto)
Trent Alexander Arnold is arguably the best-attacking fullback in the world at the moment. The Liverpool right-back has already provided six assists (xA-5.36) in nine league appearances plus two assists in four UCL appearances. With Liverpool facing Porto at Anfield, TAA could rack up loads of ball recovery points along with potential goals and assists if the scouser features in the game.
Marco Reus (€8m, Sporting CP vs Dortmund)
With Erling Haaland absent due to injury, the burden on Reus to create and score goals increased, and the Dortmund captain has lived up to that expectation so far. Reus is in fine goal-scoring form, having netted in each of Dortmund’s previous three games. Although Rúben Amorim has done a fantastic job in reorganizing Sporting’s defense to recover from the MD-1 drubbing by Ajax, the likes of Reus and Malen could be too hot to handle as the Portuguese premier league defending champions have kept a clean sheet in only one of their four Champions League appearances this season.
Leroy Sane (€9.2m, Dynamo Kyiv vs Fc Bayern)
Sane is finally living up to his potential, having a wonderful start to the 2021-22 season. In the MD-2 reverse fixture against Dynamo Kyiv, Sane scored a goal and provided an assist to cap off a player of the match performance at the Allianz Arena. After Bayern’s disappointing loss to Augsburg in the Bundesliga, the Bavarian giants will be raring to bounce back, so Sane could be instrumental to Kyiv’s downfall once again. With Kingsly Coman out injured and Gnabry & Musiala likely to miss MD-5 due to Covid restrictions, Bayern doesn’t have many options on the wing, reducing Sane’s rotation and early substitution risk.
Bruno Fernandes (€10.7m, Villareal vs Manchester United)
Recommending a Man united player when the Red Devils are in the worst form in a long time could sound silly, but hear me out. With the Solskjaer’s sacking, the Man United players seemed wounded, so they’ll want to redeem themselves as soon as possible. The MD-5 game against Villareal presents the perfect opportunity to do so. Bruno will be pivotal to Man United’s rebuild. Despite United having a poor season so far, whenever the Red Devils score a goal, Bruno always seems to be involved in one way or the other. In the UCL, Bruno is the joint top assister (five assists in four games), playing a key role to create chances for star man Ronaldo. Although Villareal is no pushover, a new manager bounce could see Bruno & Co rack up some much-needed goals at El Madrigal. Like Bayern, Man United’s official line-up will also be available 1 hour before the MD-5 deadline. Be sure to visit NMA’s Pre-deadline Chat to check the official line-ups before locking in the transfers.
Mohamed Salah (€10.7m, Liverpool vs Fc Porto)
It doesn’t take much convincing to add Mo Salah to one’s fantasy team. He is arguably the best player in the world at the moment; the Egyptian is #1 in the premier league for goals, assists & expected goals (11 goals, 7 assists, 8.93xG in 12 Apps). In the reverse fixture between Liverpool and Porto in MD-2, the Reds humbled Porto 5-1 as Salah scored a brace and was named the player of the match despite playing only 66 minutes. Salah is a potential rotation risk as Liverpool has already sealed top spot in Group B, but the Reds don’t have many other options in attack with Firmino likely still sidelined and Diogo Jota doubtful after picking up a knock in Liverpool’s 4-0 win over Arsenal.
Noah Okafor (€5.2m, Losc Lille vs Salzburg)
Classed as a midfielder, Okafor is an out-of-position striker playing alongside Adyemi so is the most attacking midfielder at this price point. He has already scored twice in UCL, so he’s an exciting enabler. In the MD-2 reverse fixture, Salzburg took a total of 12 shots with an xG of 2.38 and ended up as comfortable 2-1 winners. Since a win would put the Austrian club in pole position to win Group G, Okafor and Co will be extra motivated to repeat their MD-2 feat.
Karim Benzema (€10.2m, Sheriff vs Real Madrid)
A win for Real Madrid will ensure that Los Blancos make it to the knock-out stages after a topsy-turvy start to their UCL campaign. When Real-Madrid hosted Sheriff at Santiago Bernabeu, Sheriff shockingly ended victors on the night despite conceding 31 shots with an xG of 3.21, leaving the record UCL holders in disarray. Since that defeat, Real Madrid has pulled its act together, and Benzema has been key to the club’s quick recovery. It is unlikely that Sheriff will get lucky twice, and much to the despair of the Moldovan club’s fans, the MD-5 reverse fixture is likely to be a drubbing in favor of Real Madrid with Benzema expected to be heavily involved.
With Griezmann’s 2 match ban after the red card against Liverpool halved, the Frenchman is cleared to face AC Milan. In what is a must-win game for Atletico to keep their UCL fate in their own hands, the Colchoneros host AC Milan at the Wanda Metropolitano. In the MD-2 reverse fixture at San Siro, Atletico ended as deserving 2-1 winners courtesy of goals from Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann. Atletico peppered the AC Milan goal with 22 shots for an xG of 2.11. If the MD-2 game is anything to go by, Griezmann & Co are in for a field day.
Robert Lewandowski (€11.8 m, Dynamo Kyiv vs Bayern)
Lewandowski is an outstanding forward pick game in game out, regardless of the opposition. The Bayern #9 is in the form of his life and can’t seem to stop scoring at the moment. When Bayern hosted Kyiv at Munich in MD-2, the Bavarians put five past a helpless Kyiv defense with Lewandowski scoring a brace. Although Bayern outperformed their expected stats (xG of 2.40) in MD-2, more of the same is expected in MD-5. With Bayern having virtually sealed the top spot of Group E already, rotation might be a concern. Luckily, we’ll be able to see Bayern’s official lineup an hour before the MD-5 deadline. Tune into (join the comments under) our Pre-deadline Chat to see the early lineups and discussion before locking in the transfers.
Duvan Zapata (€9.7m, Young Boys vs Atalanta)
Atalanta faces Young Boys in MD-5 in what is a crucial game for both teams to improve their chances of making it into the knockout phases of the Champions League. In the MD-2 reverse fixture, Atalanta nicked a 1-0 win, but the scoreline doesn’t exactly paint the full picture. The Black & Blues were in cruise control throughout the game and should have scored more according to the underlying stats (Atalanta’s xG = 2.96). Zapata, the club’s talisman, has scored in each of Atalanta’s five previous games and looks to be in fine goalscoring touch. Don’t be surprised to see the Colombian score a goal or two this week.
Whom have I left out? Are you using a chip this week? If yes, which one? Will the Ajax forwards be rotated this week? Will Salah and TAA both start for Liverpool? Who are the best captain options for each calendar day? Have thoughts of your own? Please share them in the comments section below.