After three months of excitement and drama, the 2021-22 Champions League group stage is about to draw to a close. But there is still plenty of uncertainty left around advancement to the knockout stages, as well as qualification for the Europa League, so the matches on Tuesday and Wednesday still carry plenty of importance for many teams.
And in order to avoid getting burned by rest and rotation, it’s those teams with something to play for that fantasy managers should focus on for MD-6. MiQ’s MD-6 Fantasy Preview and Dhivakhar’s MD-6 Player Picks can help you with that; I know they’ve both shaped my thinking immensely for this round.
But before we get into my squad selection for MD-6, let’s have a look at how the previous round shook out for me.
My 62-point tally was solid if not spectacular, and I played my bench optimally. Even so, I took red arrows across the board.
With both chips still in hand and the specter of rotation weighing heavily on MD-6, I’m going to pull the trigger and make wholesale changes. Besides, it’s just plain fun to go on a shopping spree!
Heading into the final round of group play, I’m mostly going to target clubs that have a reason to field strong (read: predictable) sides in order to win. With both the limitless and wildcard chips in my pocket, my possibilities are completely unrestricted. This is the way my draft squad currently looks:
I would have loved to have been able to select Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy (ZEN v CHE, £6.3m) and Odisseas Vlachodimos (BEN v DKV, £5.1m), but they play the same day. That’s a deal-killer for fantasy UCL GKs, so in place of the Greek I’ve gone for Jan Oblak (POR v ATM, £6.6m).
Mendy is joint-second among fantasy UCL keepers this season, minding the net for one of the world’s stingiest defenses, and his opposition has nothing to play for, so they could field a depleted and/or unmotivated squad.
Dhivakhar tipped Oblak in his Player Picks article, and I like the choice. As he mentions, Atletico Madrid’s underlying defensive stats are excellent, and of the 32 teams in the tournament, only four have scored fewer goals than Porto.
Reece James (ZEN v CHE, £5.3m) is one of the world’s most in-form wing-backs, and Thomas Tuchel will put out a strong side in Russia as Chelsea push to finish first in the group (and we’ll see Chelsea’s confirmed lineup before the subbing deadline on Wednesday).
Daley Blind (AJX v SPO, £5.6m) is the #2 defender is fantasy UCL and has been imperious at home, collecting two clean sheets, a goal, and an assist.
Nicolás Otamendi (BEN v DKV, £5.0m) collects defensive points and also charges forward, and his opponent in this must-win fixture is Dynamo Kyiv, which has scored only one goal through the entire tournament.
Éder Militão (RMA v INT, £5.6m) Real Madrid’s rock is joint-fourth among defenders in fantasy UCL and has returned fewer than six points only once in five games.
Reinildo Mandava (WOB v LIL, £5.2m) is joint-third among defenders in the fantasy game and is a ball recovery specialist, which is a nice hedge should Lille fail to keep a clean sheet.
Christopher Nkunku (RBL v MCI, £8.2m) is the game’s #1 midfielder, and he’ll be fighting for Europa League qualification against a Man City side that is likely to be heavily rotated.
Emil Forsberg (RBL v MCI): see above, except Forsberg is #11 (after playing only two complete games). Back from injury, he notched a brace in MD-5, reminding us his attacking potential.
Jorginho (ZEN v CHE, £6.5m) is one of the best midfielders in the world, and Chelsea will press for a win to finish atop Group H. He’s good at ball recoveries, and he is first to take PKs. Caveat: The fantasy game is putting a “doubtful” marker on him but still rating him “likely to start”; at least we’ll see Tuchel’s confirmed lineup before deciding whether to sub him in. YMMV.
Like Nkunku, Hans Vanakan (PAR v BRU, £7.7m) will also be hoping for a win against a depleted opponent in order to seal Europa League qualification.
Lucas Ocampos (SAL v SEV, £8.2m) is in strong form. He won Player of the Match honors in MD-3, scored in MD-4, and notched an assist in MD-5. Plus he has scored five goals in his last eight domestic league appearances. With everything still up for grabs in Group-G, we can expect an open match from Sevilla, potentially with a lot of goals.
With many of the big-name studs subject to rest in MD-6, I’m instead laying my bets on forwards playing in games that matter.
With Juventus and Chelsea tied on points at the top of Group-H, Juventus will surely be hell-bent for victory when winless Malmo visits Turin on Wednesday. That is a scenario that could mean big points for Paulo Dybala (JUV v MAL, £9.2m).
Duván Zapata (ATA v VIL, £9.8m) is a top-ten fantasy UCL forward and has two goals and three assists to his name over the five group stage games. Atalanta have scored 16 goals in their last five matches across all competitions, and they must defeat Villareal in order to progress to the knockout stages. Zapata therefore seems primed for profit on Wednesday.
Karim Adeyemi (SAL v SEV, £7.7) is the game’s #6 forward, having won four penalties, scored three goals, and landed two PotM awards. Sevilla must win this match in order to advance to the R16; a draw will not be good enough. That will probably make them vulnerable at the back, and Adeyemi will be ready to capitalize.
I’m fairly satisfied with this draft squad mostly featuring players who still have skin in the game and who are split fairly evenly between Tuesday and Wednesday. My captain for Tuesday will probably be Nkunku, and then Dybala can back him up on Wednesday if necessary.
And amazingly, because rotation has me avoiding the biggest names in the game for MD-6, I could still have £2m left in my bank after making these 13 transfers. So with both chips available, I could achieve this roster with my wildcard chip if I wanted to.
That said, I’ll probably choose my limitless chip now because I don’t want its reversion feature to put me two stages of elimination behind if I use it later. We’re all getting unlimited free transfers between MD-6 and R-16, so reversion after MD-6 won’t hurt at all. In fact, it’ll be nice to get back all of my rested/rotated/advancing stars with their price hikes intact!
Using limitless now also means that I can save my wildcard until I can incorporate it into a forward-looking (as opposed to a one-week-only) player selection.
Considering using limitless now, budget is no barrier, so I can buy anyone I want at any position. So the pool of players under consideration also includes these:
- Jose Fonte
- Antonio Rüdiger
- Matthijs de Ligt
- Pedro Goncalves
- Remo Freuler
- Joan Jordán
- Mario Pasalic
- Franck Kessié
- Mason Mount
- Jonathan David
- Erling Haaland
- Romelu Lukaku
I’ll also make an effort to check confirmed lineups for Leipzig/City and PSG/Brugge ahead of the transfer deadline for the opportunity to pluck appealing names from among the assured starters.
And when choosing Wednesday players for my bench, I’ll lean toward Chelsea and Juventus because I’ll see their confirmed lineups before the deadline to sub them in.
Are you playing a chip in MD-6?
This poll is closed
Yes, I’m playing my limitless
Yes, I’m playing my wildcard
No, because I already played both chips
No, because I want to save my remaining chip(s) (Please tell us which in the comments!)
Do you plan to play a chip this week? Which one do you think I should use? What do you think of my tentative squad? Anyone I should drop? Anyone I’ve overlooked? Whom should I captain? Please answer the poll and then let me know your thoughts in the comments... Please “Rate My Team”!