Football on Europe’s biggest stage has finally raised its opening curtain, and with a total of 45 goals scored in the match-day, it sure didn’t disappoint. Our early kickoffs on Tuesday were arguably more eventful than those which followed: four penalties were awarded in the Sevilla vs Salzburg match, and Swiss champions Young Boys claimed all three points from Man United in the dying moments of the game.
Zenit put up a masterclass of defense against an ever-threatening Chelsea side, with Lukaku (who else?) finally getting the better of them. An injury-plagued Barcelona side put up no fight whatsoever, losing 0-3 to the well-oiled Bayern machine.
Competition debutants Sheriff kicked off Wednesday’s matches by beating Shakhtar 2-0. Inter Milan vs Real Madrid turned out to be a finely balanced matchup, with Madrid’s Rodrygo putting a dagger through the Nerazzurri’s hearts right at the final whistle. The new star-studded PSG side lacked chemistry, so a point against an energetic Club Brugge was honestly more than they deserved. 20 of the 45 goals in the match-day came from the final three matches alone, with five scored at Anfield vs AC Milan, nine (!) in the Man City vs Leipzig game, and six from the Sporting vs Ajax match.
Sébastien Haller was undoubtedly the player of the week, scoring four goals on his competition debut! This makes him only the 18th player in UEFA Champions League history to score four or more goals in a single game. Honorable mentions go to Christopher Nkunku of Leipzig for his hattrick vs City, and Ajax’s Antony with a hattrick of assists.
MD-1 Results: Scorelines, Goals, Assists and MotM
Here’s a concise summary of the events that may help you in the following rounds, because players in form tend to deliver consistently. Additionally, UCL Fantasy has added a new scoring metric this season, awarding a 3-point bonus to each game’s Man of the Match (MotM).
Young Boys 2-1 Man United
- MotM: Christian Fassnacht
- Goals: Jordan Siebatchu, Nicolas Ngamaleu | Cristiano Ronaldo
- Assists: Silvan Hefti | Bruno Fernandes
Sevilla 1-1 Salzburg
- MotM: Karim Adeyemi
- Goals: Rakitic (P) | Sucic (P)
Barcelona 0-3 Bayern
MotM: Robert Lewandowski
Goals: Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski (2)
Assists: Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, Jamal Musiala
Dynamo Kyiv 0-0 Benfica
- MotM: Nicolás Otamendi
Villarreal 2-2 Atalanta
- MotM: Daniel Parejo
- Goals: Arnaut (Danjuma) Groeneveld, Manuz Trigueros | Remo Freuler, Robin Gosens
- Assists: Gerard Moreno | Aleksei Miranchuk, Duvan Zapata
LOSC 0-0 Wolfsburg
- MotM: Jonathan David
Chelsea 1-0 Zenit
- MotM: Romelu Lukaku
- Goal: Romelu Lukaku
- Assist: Cesar Azpilicueta
Malmö 0-3 Juventus
- MotM: Paulo Dybala
- Goals: Alvaro Morata, Paulo Dybala, Alex Sandro (aka Lobo Silva)
- Assists: Rodrigo Bentancur
Beşiktaş 1-2 Dortmund
- MotM: Jude Bellingham
- Goals: Francisco Montero | Jude Bellingham, Erling Haaland
- Assists: Miralem Pjanic | Jude Bellingham, Thomas Meunier
Sheriff 2-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
- MotM: Cristiano
- Goals: Momo Yansane, Adama Traore
- Assists: Cristiano (2)
Man City 6-3 Leipzig
- MotM: Christopher Nkunku
- Goals: Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez, Nathan Ake, Jack Grealish, Joao Cancelo | Christopher Nkunku (3)
- Assists: Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish | Nordi Mukiele, Yussuf Poulsen, Dani Olmo
Club Brugge 1-1 Paris
- MotM: Noa Lang
- Goals: Hans Vanaken | Ander Herrara
- Assists: Eduard Sobol | Kylian Mbappe
Atlético Madrid 0-0 Porto
- MotM: Geoffrey Kondogbia
Liverpool 3-2 AC Milan
- MotM: Jordan Henderson
- Goals: Mo Salah, Jordan Henderson | Brahim Diaz, Ante Rebic
- Assists: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Divock Origi | Theo Hernandez, Rafael Leao
Sporting CP 1-5 Ajax
- MotM: Sébastien Haller
- Goals: Paulinho | Steven Berghuis, Sébastien Haller (4)
- Assists: Matheus Nunes | Ryan Gravenberch, Noussair Mazraoui, Antony
Inter 0-1 Real Madrid
- MotM: Marcelo Brozović
- Goal: Rodrygo
- Assist: Eduardo Camavinga
My Plan for the Season
The one thing I learned from competing in UCL fantasy for the last three years is this: You must maximize your points in the group stages. That’s because it is in this stage that all your differentials fetch you points, and it’s also (mostly) here where games with high fantasy returns happen.
The later stages of the tournament tend to be more cagey, so it’s hard to score big. The games also tend to be much more predictable, so fantasy managers will have more or less the same names in their teams.
So you should try to accumulate a lead so that any mistakes at the business end of the season will not hurt you. For example, my ranks hovered around this mark last season:
Until I made a costly mistake in the semis, which saw my final ranking slip to this:
This was the round-up of my performance last season:
How I Fared
With the above in mind, the target I had in mind was to have an average of at least 75 points each match-day, hoping for a few centuries sprinkled here and there. So the key is to not miss out on the guaranteed goal machines that everyone would also have (e.g. Erling Haaland), and also accommodate some differentials with really low ownerships.
Those surefire names in my team were Haaland and Lukaku up top, going by their domestic goal-scoring streaks. I chose to go with Salah in the midfield instead of another equally priced striker. Marco Reus finished off my premium attacking picks, and I went with him because my gut said Dortmund would have a free-scoring outing, and since Reyna was out, Reus had to be the main chance creator out there (turns out a particular 18-year-old Englishman took up that role).
I’d be a fool to not have any Chelsea representatives at the back; Tuchel’s defensive consistency has been prodigious. Eduard Mendy as my main GK, and Rudiger for ball recoveries were first on my team sheet. The wing-backs Azpilicueta and Reece James were compelling options too, but I didn’t want to keep all my eggs in one basket.
If your defenders aren’t getting clean sheets, they must give attacking returns (theme of the Euros this summer). Targeting high flying full-backs, or midfielders listed as defenders in the game, I picked Trent Alexander-Arnold and Hakimi. Finally, as mentioned in my Group Preview, one of the Benfica fullbacks (both of whom play as midfielders in a 3-4-3) had to be on my squad. I chose Grimaldo as he played more minutes this season.
The first differential in my team was Musiala. Not exactly cheap at 6.5 million, but after his marvelous form of late, he was simply a must-have for me. The next was fellow Bundesliga rising star Lukas Nmecha. He had two goals in three appearances and had seemingly gone under the radar with an ownership of just 1%. At only five million, he also permitted me to spend more in other departments. Finally, I had to choose between Tete, Ante Rebic, and Nkunku to round off the team. Of course, I ended up choosing the one who did not quite perform his differential duties.
IN: M. Salah
OUT: L. Nmecha
Captain: R. Lukaku > E. Haaland
Tuesday’s results were consistent with my target; the team finished the day with 45 points from just five players. It would’ve been great if my Dortmund and Liverpool duos could have followed the trend, but unfortunately my new captain Haaland earned less than Lukaku (MotM being the difference), Salah suffered -2 for a missed penalty, and TAA didn’t get a clean sheet. I had high hopes for my differentials to shine. However, they chose not to, Tete and Nmecha earning a combined total of 1 point.
Overall, a return of 67 points on a comparatively low-scoring match-day is acceptable. This is how my ranks stacked up at the end on MD-1.
Our NMA mini-league seems even more competitive than last season, with the guys at the top having multiple MotM in their teams. Kudos to them!
How did your matchday go? Did you meet your targets? What are you planning to change for MD-2? (Stay tuned for my player picks article next week!) Will you be activating one of your chips? Please let us know in the comments below!
How many points did you score in MD-1?