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Champions League Player Picks: Round of 16 First Leg

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The biggest tournament in world football is back after a break of more than two months! A lot of exciting action awaits us. Let’s take a look at the best players for your fantasy squads ahead of the knockout stages.

Erling Haaland - Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

UCL is finally back with the round of 16, and we just can’t wait for the action to begin. The group stage was as usual, filled with exciting matches and great individual performances. Erling Haaland sits as the top scorer so far with 6 goals to his name. Chelsea, Manchester City and FC Porto were able to keep the most clean sheets.

Regardless of how you did in fantasy football in the group stage, there’s still plenty of time to recover and do well and hopefully, win some prizes. The good news is that we’ve all got unlimited transfers ahead of the round of 16 to build the team we want from the players still available, so let’s dive right in to find the best for each position.


GOALKEEPERS

Manchester City Training Session Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

Ederson (€6m, Mochengladbach vs Manchester City)

The Brazilian shot-stopper kept four clean-sheets during the group stage. He now faces opposition who will likely give City trouble, but I still expect Guardiola’s men to proceed to the next round given the form they’re in. They’ve won a whopping 15 consecutive games, and it’s hard to see this tie go in a different direction than a win for the Citizens. I fully expect them to keep the back door shut so Ederson can build on his tally of 26 points from five games.

Pierluigi Gollini (€4.8m, Atalanta vs Real Madrid)

Gollini missed four matches in the group stage due to a knee injury but racked up 12 points in the remaining two without conceding a single goal. Although Atalanta’s opponents are extremely difficult to get past, he could be a cheap differential for your squad which you’ll need since most of the good goalkeeper picks in the knockout stages are in the premium category.


DEFENDERS

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-LEIPZIG-AUGSBURG Photo by ANNEGRET HILSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Angelino (€5.4m, RB Leipzig vs Liverpool)

The Spanish left-back was second among defenders in fantasy points earned at 46 in six games. Liverpool has been poor lately, and the German club is strong at home, so this could be a rewarding match for a defender who also has potential for attacking. He comes at a decent price, a great shout for the round of 16.

Chancel Mbemba (€4.8m, Porto vs Juventus)

Mbemba was impressive in the group stage, scoring 38 points in a rather tricky group, but only 3% of fantasy managers own him. Although Juventus isn’t the easiest opponent, I believe Mbemba will still get good points across both matches against the Italians. He’s a great differential, and he’s cheap, enabling funds to be spent elsewhere, which we’ll need to squeeze in quite a lot of expensive players as the tournament progresses.

Stefan Savić (€4.6m, Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea)

For those like me who tend to spend less in defense to get the big hitters up front, especially during the knockout stages, Stefan Stavic is a great option. He has earned 29 points so far and is owned by 6% of the managers. Simeone’s men lead La Liga and have momentum with them, so I fully expect them to be at their defensive best in both fixtures against Tuchel’s men. He has also recovered 43 balls so far and has played every minute of UCL this season, which makes him a very attractive pick for your defense.


MIDFIELDERS

Liverpool v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Mohamed Salah (€11.6m, RB Leipzig vs Liverpool)

Even though Liverpool has looked poor recently, the Egyptian has been able to rack up goals and look his usual self in UCL. He was the highest scoring midfielder in the group stage with 34 points, and if Klopp’s men are to get past the Germans, he’ll need to perform which I am expecting he will. He’s a solid pick in midfield since whatever Liverpool create going forward more often than not goes through him. Though he’s quite expensive, he’s worth his hefty price in my opinion.

Kingsley Coman (€8.5m, Lazio vs Bayern Munich)

The French winger was in great form during the group stage, scoring 33 points in just four matches played, As good as Lazio looked, it’s hard to see this going their way given how lethal the German champions have been in the competition so far. Coman has been creating and scoring goals consistently, and I am backing him to pick up right where he left off on match-day 4 of the group stage.

Juan Cuadrado (€6.7m, Porto vs Juventus)

He’s my maverick pick for the round of 16. He seems to be overlooked by a lot of people, but let’s not forget he tallied 32 points in five matches and is owned by just over 10% of fantasy managers. Given his price and the team he represents, he’s a solid pick for your fantasy squad. I expect Juventus to get past the Portuguese club with relative ease with the Colombian winger returning good points for his owners.

UPDATE: Cuadrado has been ruled out 10 days with a hamstring injury.


FORWARDS

Sevilla v FC Barcelona: Copa del Rey Semi Final First Leg Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Lionel Messi (€12.1m, Barcelona vs PSG)

The Argentine missed two games in the group stage but still managed 28 points in the remaining four. Barca is strong in La Liga, climbing to second in the table. If PSG’s previous visits to Camp Nou are anything to go by, this could be yet another goal-packed encounter. He usually delivers in this kind of high-stakes fixture, and I don’t expect anything different this time around.

Cristiano Ronaldo (€12m, Porto vs Juventus)

This is his competition, and the stage we’re entering is where he thrives. He missed the opening two matches of the group stage but still managed 30 points in the remaining four, which shows just how lethal he is in this competition. Juventus faces Porto, and I can see this tie going only one way. Just pick him or you’ll regret it massively like I have so many time in the past. Already with four goals, the Portuguese striker looks set for yet another memorable season in the UCL.

Karin Benzema (€10.4m, Atalanta vs Real Madrid)

He’s my differential pick among forwards for the round of 16. He has already scored four goals in UCL this season, and with La Liga seeming beyond reach of Los Blancos, UCL is where they’ll focus. They face Atalanta, and even though the Italians have been really impressive this season, I expect Zidane’s men to emerge victorious with convincing performances and the Frenchman to capitalizing.


That’s it for my player picks for the round of 16. Some would argue it’s missing a lot of big names, but I think it’s wise to invest in a couple of differentials as you’ll definitely need something a bit unique to stand out from the crowd and gain positions.

Good luck everyone for the knockout stages and I hope this article helped you a bit. For additional assistance, read MiQ’s fantasy preview article. MiQ has also partnered with Paul to produce three fantasy UCL-related podcasts — be sure to check them out! Finally, be on the lookout for David’s upcoming Rate My Team article, which should post tomorrow.

Cheers,

Prakhar

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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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