The fantasy UCL MD-2 deadline is fast approaching, and my brain is scrambled. Please rate my team to help me out!
My MD-1 was off to a flyer! #1 Captain, Cristiano Ronaldo scored early in United’s game against Young Boys, but after that fantastic start, what panned out was rather underwhelming. Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s red card for his horror tackle on Young Boys midfielder Christopher Martins Pereira was banana peel as Manchester United’s attack then skidded to a halt. Ronaldo cut an isolated figure up front, ending up with just the six points implied by his 1st-half goal.
The Sevilla vs RB Salzburg match was a thriller. The game saw four penalties awarded, two of them missed, plus a red card to Sevilla’s En-Nesyri. Ball-recovery machine Diego Carlos hoovered up 13 for respectable four points despite conceding a penalty and eating a yellow card.
In Ukraine, Benfica held Dynamo Kyiv to a 0-0 draw. Meanwhile, Geronimo Rulli of Villareal missed out on clean sheet points as Robin Gosens and Remo Freuler scored for Atalanta in an action-packed 2-2 draw. Rulli still looks a good hold as the Villareal GK can still sneak in loads of save points against United in MD-2 and keep clean sheets against Young Boys in MD-3 and/or MD-4.
In Sweden, Juventus breezed past Malmo courtesy of goals from Alvaro Morata, Paulo Dybala, and a rare UCL goal for Alex Sandro. In France, Wolfsburg held on to a cagey 0-0 draw after center-back John Brooks received his marching orders for a cynical handball. Ridle Baku, categorized as a defender in the game started as a right-winger for Wolfsburg and remains an exciting option to consider for MD-2.
At Camp Nou, Bayern Munich humbled FC Barcelona 3-0. The Catalans side didn’t pose much of a threat, posting an xG of 0.20 — the second lowest in MD-1, a testament to Bayern’s defensive strength.
Top three Expected Goals (xG) totals from tonight's Champions League action— Sporting Life Football & Infogol (@InfogolApp) September 14, 2021
Red Bull Salzburg (2.70)
Man United (0.56)
Wolfsburg (0.07)#MUFC #FCB #UCL pic.twitter.com/qr6tocVwGN
Differential pick and Sheriff talisman Frank Castaneda could have netted a goal or two if not for Pyatov’s brilliant saves. Castaneda will be vital if Sheriff are to upset mighty Madrid, and I’m all for it. Castaneda keeps his spot in my team for MD-2.
At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku scored a thumping header from a Cesar Azpilicueta cross to propel Chelsea to a 1-0 win over Russian Champions Zenit St Petersberg, plus he received the +3 points as player of the match.
Top three Expected Goals (xG) totals from tonight's Champions League action:— Sporting Life Football & Infogol (@InfogolApp) September 15, 2021
Man City - 3.41
Borussia Dortmund - 3.22
Ajax - 2.89
Shakhtar Donetsk - 0.82
Sporting Lisbon - 0.66
Atletico Madrid - 0.37 #UCL #ManCity #BVB pic.twitter.com/rCcSb5MngD
#2 captain Erling Haaland yet again managed to score in the Champions League, and now he has a ridiculous 21 goals in 17 UCL appearances. The Norwegian has already scored more champions league goals than greats of the game like Totti, Ronaldinho, Zidane, and David Beckham! But, Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham was the star of the show, the teenager running rings around the Besiktas defenders.
The Liverpool vs AC Milan game was a roller coaster from a fantasy perspective. Mo Salah missed an early penalty but made up for his miss by scoring Liverpool’s equalizer in a thrilling game, reminiscent of the Istanbul Champions League Final between the sides in 2005.
In the Man City vs RB Leipzig game, Ferran Torres owners can be considered a touch unlucky as the Spanish winger had no goal involvement and also had a goal denied by VAR in City’s thumping 6-3 win.
At Brugge, Messi made his Champions League debut for PSG in what turned out to be a disappointing result for the Parisians as Brugge proved they were no pushovers with their brave attacking football. The player of the match Nao Lang and the prodigal Charles de Ketelaere were the standouts in the Brugge attack and are also great picks for MD-2 as highlighted by Sravan in his player picks article.
In Madrid, Atletico and Porto played out a not so boring 0-0 draw, Porto’s late netter ruled out by VAR. Porto’s Mbemba took a red card for the team when the center-back cynically tripped Griezmann who was through on goal in the dying minutes of the game.
At San Siro, Rodrygo won it late for Real Madrid, and Inter Milan will rue missed chances as the Nerazzurri finished goalless despite posting a mammoth xG of 2.52! In Lisbon, Ajax put five past helpless Sporting Lisbon, former West Ham striker Sebastian Haller netting four goals. Ajax right-back Noussair Mazraoui was the standout amongst Ajax defenders, the Moroccan a constant threat down the right flank and assisting Haller’s 4th.
As it stands, I plan to use the limitless chip in MD-5 and save the wildcard for the knock-out stages. But I still am tempted to use the wildcard in the group stage because there’s such a massive upside to it. Since the fixtures of MD-4 are a repeat (reversed) of MD-3, it would be smart to use the wildcard in MD-3 to cover both weeks. The way my team is set up at the moment, I can afford to not use the wildcard in the group stages yet still field good sides for the upcoming matchdays.
With Erling Haaland facing a race against time to get fit for MD-2, my transfers will largely depend on further news on the Norwegian’s fitness. If Haaland is cleared fit for MD-2, my move will be to drop Ronaldo and bring in Robert Lewandoski. Lewandoski is arguably the best captain option on calendar day-2 of MD-2, so going without the polish striker is not an option to me.
The reason Ronaldo gets the ax ahead of Lukaku is that, although Chelsea’s MD-2 game against Juventus isn’t ideal, the blues face Malmo in GW-3 and GW-4; I want the Belgian for those easy fixtures. In GW-3 and GW-4, Ronaldo faces Atalanta which is expected to sit tight against United, which will reduce Ronaldo’s output.
If Haaland is declared unfit for MD-2, the Norwegian will be the forward to lose his spot. To fund the Lewandoski upgrade, Marquinhos will make way for a €5 million defender. The options I’m considering are Manuel Akanji (€5m, Dortmund vs Sporting CP), Eder Militao (€5m, Real Madrid vs Sheriff Tiraspol) and Niklas Sule (€5m, Bayern Munich vs Dynamo Kyiv). Sule is the front runner as the German is a mainstay in the strengthened Bayern defense that had one of the lowest xG conceded in MD 1.
What changes would you make to the above team? What is your chip strategy? What transfers are you planning ahead of MD-2? Is taking Ronaldo out ahead of the Villareal game a good move? Who is the best €5m defender out of Sule, Akanji, and Militao for MD 2? Who are the best captains for day 1 and day 2? Who will be this MD’s Haller? Have thoughts of your own? Please share them in the comments section below!