Finally, the Champions League is back. It has been two months and five days without Champions League football, and it just hasn’t been the same. The thrills and chills that come with the sound of the famous Champions League anthem is something that has been sorely missed. Thankfully, we get to experience all of it just over 24 hours from now.
The return of the Champions League also heralds the return of UCL Fantasy, which we have been participating in all season. The Round of 16 gives Fantasy managers the opportunity to make unlimited free transfers without using a chip. Since only limited transfers will be available after this stage, emphasis should be placed on players from teams likely to advance to the next stage of the competition. Here’s a breakdown of the free-transfer schedule for the remainder of the competition:
- Entering Round of 16 – Unlimited
- Before round of 16 second leg – 3
- Quarterfinals – 5
- Before quarterfinals second leg — 3
- Semifinals – 5
- Before semifinal second leg – 3
- Final – 5
This is my first year participating in UCL fantasy, and it has been a great experience. The group stage was a little tough to deal with due to teams qualifying for advancement early and then resting key players. The knockout stages are a different ball game as teams and their player get knocked out, creating holes needing to be filled.
I’m not deploying any special strategy for this draft. I will just be selecting players based on the criteria I use for FPL. Fixture difficulty and player prospects are the major determinants. Let’s take a look at some of the players I trust to get the job done.
Remko Pasveer (£5.1m Benfica v Ajax)
Geronimo Rulli (£5m Villareal vs Juventus)
Pasveer is an easy choice due to Ajax’s defensive form this season. The Dutch champions have conceded just ten goals all season, a record not bettered by any other team in the top seven leagues. Pasveer was in goal for Ajax’s last league match against Twente, which they won 5-nil ahead of Onana, and it is expected that he will keep his place for this round. Rulli also makes my team due to his relatively cheap price and Juventus’ weak front line. The Italians have been nowhere near the level required of them this season, and I expect Villareal to keep them at bay in at least one of the two legs.
Antonio Rudiger (£5.9m Chelsea v Lille)
Rudiger has been a mainstay in Thomas Tuchel’s back line this season. The German international has been instrumental in maintaining top-four status in Premier League and progressing to the final of the League Cup. With the Blues coming off the back of a Club World Cup victory, a win and a clean sheet looks likely in this fixture.
Marcos Alonso (£5.3m Chelsea v Lille)
My confidence in Chelsea’s ability to see off Lille prompts me to go with a double Chelsea defense. Alonso’s ability at the other end of the pitch also means an attacking return might be in the cards.
Benjamin Pavard (£5.6m RB Salzburg v Bayern)
French international Pavard makes my team as a result of being part of a Bayern defense that conceded only three goals in six group stage matches. The German champions are clear favorites going into this fixture, and a clean sheet looks likely in at least one leg.
Joao Cancelo (£6.5m Sporting v Man City)
Cancelo is easily one of the world’s best right-backs. Man City’s relatively friendly fixture also makes it almost impossible to leave him out. In preparation for this crucial fixture, he right-back was rested in the Citizens’ last Premier League match against Norwich.
Kevin De Bruyne (£10.9m Sporting v Man City)
De Bruyne has returned to form for Pep Guardiola’s Man City. The Belgian has recovered from early season wobbles to become a key playmaker for Pep Guardiola’s side this season. Just like Cancelo, De Bruyne was also rested in the Citizens’ last match.
Angel Correa has taken his game to another level this season as Atletico Madrid struggles to secure Champion League football for another season. The Argentine international has contributed ten goals plus four assists in La Liga for the Colchoneros this season.
Mo Salah (£10.9m Inter vs Liverpool)
Seven goals in six group stage matches tells you why Salah makes my team for this game-week. The Egyptian has been instrumental to Liverpool’s title challenge and Champions League run this season. Easily one of the best players in the world, expect Salah to light up the San Siro with goals.
Sebastien Haller (£9.3m Benfica v Ajax)
We all have Haller, don’t we? Haller has been the revelation of this Champions League Season. The Ajax striker has outscored the likes of Ronaldo, Lewandowski and Haaland as the group stage’s top goal-scorer with an unreal ten goals in six matches. Haller should have enough opportunities to increase his tally when the Dutch champions square off against Benfica.
Cristiano Ronaldo (£11.4m Atletico Madrid v Man United)
He is Mr Champions League, isn’t he? Ronaldo championed the Red Devils’ course to group-winner by repeatedly digging them out of difficult situations with late goals. He was responsible for over 70% of the goals scored by Man United in the group stage.
Robert Lewandowski (£12m RB Salzburg v Bayern)
UCL’s second highest goal scorer also makes my team. The Polish international has a enjoyed a good season for Bayern, scoring 24 goals for the Bavarians already.
As I confessed earlier, I’m slightly new to Champions League Fantasy, so I will watch the comment section for your opinion and suggestions on how I can improve my team now and moving forward.
What do you think about my selections? What is your armband strategy? Whom do you think I should transfer in or out? Please log in and share what you think in the comment section below!