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UCL MD-8: Rate My Team

Let’s exchange fantasy insights for MD-8

Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo - Manchester City: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League
Which leg-1 heroes will rest in leg-2?
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

With the away-goal rule scrapped and a near one-month gap between the first and second legs, the previous match-day was a cautious one, with four draws and three close wins. If those games remain tied after the next 90’, we’re up for extra time and potentially penalty shootouts.

A longer game could mean more substitutes being called up (each team is allowed five in regular time plus one more in extra time). Each player plays longer, which means he can rack up more points... or lose a clean sheet... or suffer a fatigue-generated injury.

We are granted three free transfers before this second leg of the Round of 16. Between stages (after a knockout), the number will be five. So ideally, I’m looking to have no more than five players knocked out over the next two calendar weeks so that I’ll be able to field a full squad and a full bench in the next round.

More than that, and my bench will enter the quarterfinals with deadwood needing to be replaced between legs, that in addition to whatever other bad news comes my way... But that’s what chips are for, right?


First Leg (MD-7) Results:

The players were quite evenly spread across the four game-days of the first leg. The only exception was a lack of players in the PSG vs Real Madrid match. With all the insane attacking firepower that these two teams possess, leaving them out of my team seemed to be a surefire recipe for misery. Thankfully, neither of the teams stepped on the gas, so the solitary goal allowed me a good night’s sleep.

Goals could come from anywhere in the in-form City side (and so they did), so limiting the City players to two seemed like a balanced choice. The match went on to be the only thrashing in Leg-1, and many Citizens rewarded owners handsomely.

In Lewandowski, Sane, Salah, and Okafor, some of my most expensive players played on the second game-day. Though Salah did eventually find a spot on the scoresheet, the Bayern match was disappointing for many Fantasy managers including myself. Salzburg’s midfield and defense outran, outmuscled, and outfoxed the lackluster visiting Bayern side. The central areas where Bayern prefers to attack were expertly closed off. I don’t recall seeing Lewandowski on the ball, and the wingers were mostly restricted to wing play. Noah Okafor, the differential I pinned hopes on, seemed the most likely to score. Unfortunately, he was forced off the pitch within 12 minutes, and his replacement Adamu slotted right in. Bayern faithful can hope the German side performs better at home, but I have my doubts.

Trust in Chelsea’s back line never disappoints, and not having Danjuma gladly didn’t hurt me either. Continuing the trend of expensive and unfulfilling attackers, Ronaldo ghosted me, and Haller, my final captain, scored an own goal. Sigh. He did somewhat atone for his sin by putting the ball in the correct net within three minutes, but captaincy picks remain a sore spot for me this season.

Over the four game days, I finished on 68 points — satisfactory, but not good enough to prevent red arrows across the board. Bring on the next matchday, please!


MD-8 Strategy

History

Once again, looking back at the previous tie is one of the most simple and underrated strategies of ensuring points this time around. Here’s a recap of the scorelines, along with each PotM (+3 points) in the first leg:

With four draws and three narrow wins, everything is left to play for, so I expect all but Man City to field their strongest sides once again. The way I see it, a draw instead of a one-sided result in the previous game might point to the game plans of both the teams working as planned, so I don’t foresee major changes in both the tactics or the lineups this time around.


Departures

Remko Pasveer

The 38-year-old Dutchman is Ajax’s third-choice keeper behind Andre Onana (4.5) and Maarten Stekelenburg, deputizing in their absence. Pasveer picked up a finger injury, and Onana is back and will reclaim his place in goal.

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Noah Okafor

The sub-6 million striker who is a listed midfielder is a major doubt for the game.

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Malang Sarr

Now that Reece James is back (with a bang), the young Frenchman would probably be recalled to the bench in favor of the stronger starters. But at only 4m, he is still a good option to fill my bench.

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Cristiano Ronaldo

Though he finally did break his duck for this calendar year, CR7 still has only one goal to his name across more than three months. He is also an injury doubt. He was not even on the bench for the loss to Man City on the weekend, but that could mean he was saved for UCL — YMMV. It’s the Champions League, a finely balanced tie against one of CR7’s favorite opponents. If a clutch moment is to happen, Ronaldo is the go-to man, so this is a tricky one for me.


Arrivals/Opportunities

Goalkeeper:

With Ajax’s Pasveer out and likely replaced by Onana at only 4.5m, cheaper than Pasveer himself, I’m following real-life because I don’t see a better replacement.

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Defense:

Reece James

Who says no to an ultra-attacking defender? As outlined in Dhivakhar’s Player Picks, Reece James will probably come straight into the starting XI and should replace Malang Sarr in my team.

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Ibrahima Konaté

After Chelsea, Liverpool seems more likely than others to keep a clean sheet. Van Dijk may go out of budget so Konate could be a shrewder way to cash in.

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Marquinhos

PSG may have Messi, Neymar and Mbappe, but more often than not, it is PSG’s defense that shines brightest. Marquinhos gets ample ball recoveries and is a constant threat in the box as well.

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Midfield

Brenden Aaronson

The American youngster plays right behind Salzburg’s strikers, and at just 5.5m, he can replace Okafor like for like.

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Bernado Silva

Can lightning strike twice? At a reasonable rate of 7.4m, I’d be willing to take the chance.

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Forwards

The only change I’d try here is if I can accommodate Mbappe, but that’s only if he travels to Madrid (injury doubt as of now).


Second Leg Drafts

I will probably keep tinkering around till the deadline, but broadly I see two ways to go:

Option A - Subtle Changes:

By saving up on Onana and selling Okafor, I have 6.1m to play with, which to my surprise was enough to upgrade not only to Konate, but to a certain van Dijk.

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Option B - Transfers up top:

Selling Ronaldo fills my bank handsomely, giving lots of breathing space to upgrade both the midfield and defense. As for the third attacker, there are quite a few differentials, Adeyemi being one of them.


MATCHDAY 8 BUILD-UP

Check out my fellow UCL expert MIQ’s preview and Dhivakhar’s player picks for MD-8, and you may keep coming back here or any of the other articles for tactical chat and questions. And of course, the UCL Live Chat article is coming up in two parts over the next two Tuesdays. Injuries and suspensions lists will be covered, so be sure to check in.

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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!

  • League: Never Manage Alone
  • Code: 71MQALVG07

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Poll

Which option would you choose?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    Cash in on Ronaldo to improve the squad
    (20 votes)
  • 16%
    Another CR7 hattrick coming!
    (4 votes)
24 votes total Vote Now

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Have you saved your transfers yet? What do you think of my tentative squad? Anyone I should drop? Anyone I’ve overlooked? Whom should I captain? Please answer the poll and then let me know your thoughts in the comments... Please “Rate My Team”!

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