A total of 44 goals were scored in MD-1. Somehow, only three players netted more than one! A variety of UCL marks were noted — Four penalties were awarded in a single game for the first time, Barcelona lost in GW-1 for the first time in 24 years, Messi became the third outfield player to make 150 UCL appearances (Cristiano Ronaldo, 177 & Xavi, 151), and Ronaldo scored against a record 36th different team (tied with none other than Lionel Messi, also on 36).
Only four players have scored a Champions League hat-trick and finished on the losing side:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 15, 2021
◉ Ronaldo (2003 vs Man Utd)
◉ Gareth Bale (2010 vs Inter)
◉ İrfan Kahveci (2020 vs RB Leipzig)
◉ Christopher Nkunku (2021 vs Man City)
Seriously unlucky. #UCL pic.twitter.com/ENJET30Uur
Player records aside, who are some players that could help you break your fantasy records this season?
Note: Many fantasy managers have Edouard Mendy as their #1 goalkeeper. If you’re one of them, I’d suggest sticking with Mendy and seeing the MD through since we are allowed only two free transfers. Though a clean sheet for this round may not be guaranteed, I do not see Juventus putting more than one goal past Chelsea. Moreover, Chelsea’s next two matches are against Malmo.
Manuel Neuer (€6m, Bayern v Dynamo Kyiv)
The cumulative score of Bayern’s last 6 matches in all competitions has been 34-2. You read that right, 34 goals in six matches. The biggest difference from last season is that they have also become a lot tighter at the back. At this point last year, they’d already conceded nine. And when this new enhanced back line does fail, Manuel Neuer usually does not fail to prove he’s still the best in the business. The next four fixtures are favorable to Bayern. If Barcelona does not get it together soon, a clean sheet for Bayern on MD-6 seems likely too. Or maybe just the rest of the tournament as well.
Yassine Bounou (€5m, Wolfsburg v Sevilla)
Sevilla is known for its staunch defense. Conceding just twice in La Liga so far this season proves that. Bounou received two extra points in MD-1 owing to his astonishing seven saves, and he lost out on a clean sheet only due to a conceded penalty. Wolfsburg is having problems in the attacking department, so a double header against them and Lille should make Bounou a shrewd investment in the long term.
Alphonso Davies (€6m, Bayern v Dynamo Kyiv)
Bayern’s roadrunner is back to his 2019-20 UCL-winning form after something of a sophomore slump last season. Under new coach Julian Nagelsmann, Davies is pushing even further upfield tactically, playing predominantly as a wing-back in a dynamic back-three formation. He even started last match at LW, the position he used to play in the MLS. He recovered three balls against Barcelona and already has three assists in six Bundesliga matches. Additional reasons to double up on Bayern’s defense have been mentioned above.
AC Milan faces an Atleti side that has managed to score only two goals in four matches. Theo Hernandez is in the form of his life right now, with a goal and two assists in just six matches domestically. He also received a decent five points against Liverpool in MD-1 even after conceding three goals, buoyed by his assist and ball recoveries.
Diego Carlos (€4.5m, Wolfsburg v Sevilla)
Like picking keeper Yassine Bounou, Sevilla’s defenders are attractive options as well. The best value for money among these is center-back Diego Carlos. A colossal 13(!) balls recovered speaks volumes.
Yaroslav Rakits’kyy (€4.5m, Zenit v Malmö)
It takes remarkable defensive cohesion to limit Chelsea to just two shots on target, but Zenit has showed us just that in GW-1. With a doubleheader against Juventus coming in GW-3 & GW-4, this definitely isn’t a long-term option, but Rakits’kyy has 0% ownership. He’s a differential diamond at its best!
Denzel Dumfries (€5m, Shakhtar v Inter Milan)
The man who shot to fame in the Euros is now plying his trade at Inter Milan. He is only just integrating with the squad and is not a confirmed starter yet, but Inter has favorable fixtures coming up and wants to increase its goal difference by going all-out attack. Inter need not look further than Dumfries. At just 1% ownership, he could be that guy who lets you see green arrows!
Mo Salah (€10.5m, Porto v Liverpool)
Mo Salah is lighting the Premier League on fire. The prolific Egyptian scored his 100th Premier League goal against Leeds and that broke yet another record, becoming the fastest Red to reach 100 top-flight goals, breaking the club record set by Roger Hunt. If that isn’t enough reason to buy him, he already has five goals and two assists this domestic season, and also became the first Premier League player to find the net on the opening matchday in five successive league seasons.
Jack Grealish (€8m, Paris v Man City)
England’s Jack Grealish is finally playing on the biggest stage. He is starting more often than some expected, and he’s a more economical pick compared to some of his teammates. Even if he doesn’t start, he most definitely possesses the skill to impact the game from the bench. Riyad Mahrez could too. So could KDB. But looking at value for money, Grealish comes first. PSG is unbeatable on paper, but if midfield isn’t sorted out, the Parisians will disappoint again. They also tend to lose focus and deviate from their game plan towards the end, so this is where Grealish could make his mark.
Leon Goretzka (€7.5m, Bayern v Dynamo Kyiv)
One of the less-heralded midfielders at Bayern, Leon Goretzka has adopted a fantasy role similar to what Casemiro took last season. The midfielder who isn’t all about action silently racks up (a huge number of) ball recoveries, and also belts a long-ranger every now and then. He had 11 ball recoveries against Barcelona, and Nagelsmann is using him as that late-arriving midfielder for whom the wingers set up shots. If the next four games against Dinamo and Benfica turn out to be low-scoring, CMs such as Goreztka can ensure consistent points.
Jude Bellingham (€7m, Dortmund v Sporting CP)
Though a particular Norwegian is the go-to name for UCL action, Bellingham’s name is in the hat as well. His involvements almost turned the game around in last year’s quarterfinal against Man City. The 18-year-old amassed 15 points in MD-1 in only 70 minutes on the pitch. He also took home a Player of the Match award worth +3 points. Sporting CP was blown away by the speed of Ajax’s attack, and I expect a similar result against Dortmund as well.
18 - Jude Bellingham (18y 78d) has become the youngest player ever to score in consecutive Champions League games, surpassing Kylian Mbappé (18y 85d in March 2017). Prodigy. #BJKBVB pic.twitter.com/gqsbqtNCmT— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) September 15, 2021
Charles de Ketelaere and Noa Lang (€6m and €6.5m, Leipzig v Clubbe Brugge)
When Club Brugge was drawn against PSG and Man City in group A, most of us assumed that they would become the punching bag of the group. Their display against PSG showed anything but (or did it reveal vulnerability in PSG?). Brugge showed cohesion and even dared to play their game against the favorite, employing a high line against Mbappe and Neymar. Noa Lang and Charles de Ketelaere, both listed as midfielders in the game, provide Brugge’s attack along with Hans Vanaken. Lang plays on the left wing, and his style draws many parallels to Neymar’s Santos days. De Ketelaere assumes a central striking role and was unlucky not to have his name on the scoresheet last time out.
Nicolas Seiwald (€4.5m, Salzburg v Lille)
CM at Salzburg. 3 assists in the domestic league. Takes set pieces. (FantasyTipsters)
Erling Haaland (€11m, Dortmund v Sporting CP)
Erling Haaland is a man on a mission. He seems to have effectively taken the “Mr. UCL” torch from Cristiano Ronaldo. Haaland shattered the record for the fewest games needed to reach 20 goals, needing only 14 outings. To put this into perspective, the Champions League’s all-time leading goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo needed 56 appearances to reach that milestone. By scoring his 21st goal in the competition, he also overtook Gareth Bale and Harry Kane. Given his ownership, there’s a 62% chance that you will be left disappointed in case he is not part of your team.
Robert Lewandowski (€11.5m, Bayern v Dynamo Kyiv)
Completing Bayern’s domination of this player picks article is the Bundesliga’s joint top scorer (10 points for guessing the other guy), Robert Lewandowski. He is the recipient of last season’s Golden Shoe after hitting 41 goals in the Bundesliga, one-upping Gerd Muller’s 50-year record of 40 goals in a season. (Gerd Muller also held the record for most goals scored in a calendar year, striking 85 in 1972, until his total was surpassed 40 years later in 2012 by Lionel Messi).
Bells were ringing across the world when Lewandowski’s ridiculous 19-consecutive-match scoring streak came to an end against Greuther Furth last weekend, but this may just lift a weight off his shoulders, enabling him to strike with a sense of freedom. He scored a brace against Barcelona in MD-1 and was awarded the Player of the Match. It is more likely than not that he will replicate this against Dinamo Kyiv.
Karim Adeyemi (€7m, Salzburg v Lille)
This 19-year-old seems to be the center forward the German National Team so badly needs. He has notched seven goals plus an assist in nine appearances in the Austrian top flight. He leads this all-out-attack Salzburg side and earned a cool nine points without even putting the ball in the net last time out (three penalties earned).
MD-2 Fantasy Preview
For a comprehensive overview of MD-2, please check out MiQ’s preview. He analyzes the fixtures to reveal where we should expect goals and clean sheets, runs through team news including injuries and suspensions, and posts his famous “difficulty index” tables to identify lopsided matchups.
Rules, Tricks, and Tips
For the inside scoop on how to beat your mini-league rivals, please read Dhivakhar’s article on the secrets to success in fantasy UCL.
NMA’s authors have put together an article stream covering each group in the tournament. Be sure to check it out for the lowdown on the players who should be on your fantasy watchlists.
NMA UCL Fantasy Mini-League
If you played our UCL mini-league last season, or if you played our Euros mini-league over the summer, you should automatically be entered into NMA’s 2021-22 mini-league as soon as you create a team. Head to gaming.uefa.com and get to work!
If you are new to us, then once you create a team you can join our mini-league manually with the following info. Come join us, we’d love to have you!
- Code: 71MQALVG07
What holes do you need to fill? Are these picks giving you ideas? Who else is on your watchlist? How is reality shaping up compared to your pre-season plan? Is anyone jonesing for a chip yet? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!