The first leg of the Champions League semifinals diverged in almost every way. One was open and unpredictable, but the other went more or less to expectations with the underdog holding on defensively but conceding in the end. The final is almost within reach now -- which two clubs will make the cut?
Liverpool looks odds-on to make it; only a catastrophic collapse would see the Reds falter now. The other match is much more difficult to predict. Real Madrid looked outplayed for much of the game yet still scored three and now have home advantage. Could returning players make a difference? City will certainly hope defense is improved by the return of Cancelo.
Most fantasy managers will have used their chips by now, but if you do have one left, it’s probably best to save it for the final. So this week it will be three free transfers to make a difference. Here’s how I’m thinking about using mine...
How I Fared
First, let’s review my MD-11 performance. After the quarterfinals, and especially thanks to the demise of Bayern Munich, my team was in dire straits, so I was glad I still had my wildcard. A couple of options I nearly went for did well, but with the Real Madrid - Man City match coming first I settled for some confirmed starters rather than gambling on players from the second game.
I had captained KDB over Mahrez a couple of time before, which never turned out to be a good idea. But this time it paid off and my total of 78 points was solid - although 237 players in the Never Manage Alone league did better than I! The net result was a small improvement in my league position.
With so few games left and correspondingly limited options, most fantasy teams share a significant number of players, so making gains in the league is very difficult now. Still, there were plenty of scores in the 90’s and those 15 or so extra points would have made a big difference to my ranking if I had scored in that range.
Apart from maximizing points for this round, I want to make sure I don’t have too many difficulties picking players for the final. As it stands, I have five players each from Liverpool and Man City, plus three from Real Madrid and two from Villarreal. We get five free transfers for the final and need only to find eleven starters confirmed at deadline time, so I’m not going to worry too much about the balance of my team right now. It shouldn’t be to hard to get eleven starters, and surely my five Reds will make it through?
It’s hard to imagine the Real Madrid - Man City game being quite as open again, but both teams will be keen to score, and I doubt that City will go all defensive to try to squeeze out the aggregate win. So attacking options remain good from that game. KDB and Mahrez were fully rested at the weekend, and Bernardo Silva played only a few minutes, so they look likely to be starting on Wednesday. Bernardo scored really well in the last round and is the City player I would most like to add -- keeping Danjuma in place of him was a big mistake last time.
Villarreal needs to score at least twice to make it through, so they can’t play as negatively as they did in the last round. While this makes them a little more likely to score, it also renders them vulnerable to Liverpool’s attack. Liverpool’s defense was the clear option for the last round, but holding more Liverpool attackers for leg 2 also seems worthwhile.
In defense, Carvajal looks like a weak link. Since Cancelo is back from suspension, I’d like to bring him in, but that’s a big step up in cost. In midfield, Rodri came into my squad only at the last minute as an affordable starting option. I didn’t expect much, and not much is what I got, but he did score at the weekend against Leeds United so I was only just out!
In attack I have the three ‘standard’ options and I am not seeing much extra value there, especially now that Gabriel Jesus has played 90 minutes at the weekend.
Having only three free transfers limits me, but here are three possible ways I could go. Let’s run through the options.
Plan A: Get Cancelo in
I’m not sure there is a lot of value to be had at keeper, so I am tempted to free up cash by dropping Ederson for Carson. This would leave me relying on Rulli, but it isn’t impossible to imagine him being the best option this week, with all teams potentially conceding and Rulli potentially making a lot of saves.
This would give me another 2.6m to play with and the chance to upgrade defense and midfield.
The options I’m keen on are Cancelo in defense plus Mane or Bernardo in midfield, Carvajal and Rodri the players I’d most like to drop. If I bring in Cancelo for Carvajal I could only get to Bernardo by dropping Danjuma. But if I drop VVD for Cancelo I could go from Rodri to Bernardo, and have 0.5m in the bank.
Plan B: Must have Mane
Assuming the team sheets confirm that Mane is starting, is there any way I can get him in without discarding my other desirable assets?
As with plan A, the most practical option to raise cash seems to be to drop Ederson for Carson. The most expensive midfielder I’m prepared to lose is Danjuma, so swapping him for Mane then leaves me with -0.1 to find. Unless by some chance Matip is playing tomorrow that would mean I need to bring in a Villarreal defender in place of Carvajal, with Estupinan or Foyth being the likely options. So my team could look like this:
Plan C: Don’t do much
The third option is to keep the team essentially unchanged. Depending on confirmed lineups I could bring in Gabriel Jesus for either V Junior or Diaz, but I’m not sure that’s really worth it. I could swap Carvajal for Konate, or I could swap Danjuma for Bernardo. The player looking least valuable is Rodri, and I could swap him for Fabinho if Fabinho starts.
For the Villarreal - Liverpool match the logical pick is a Liverpool player. So it will be Salah unless I go with option B where it could possibly be Mane.
If that doesn’t pan out, I expect I’ll roll the armband to KDB again, partly because his ownership is less than Mahrez’s. Of course, the red-hot Benzema is an option there too.
Which strategy would you go for?
This poll is closed
Plan A: Get Cancelo in
Plan B: Must have Mane
Plan C: Don’t do much
MATCHDAY 11 BUILD-UP
You are welcome to post tactics chat and questions in the comments section of this article as well. And as usual, MiQ will be posting the UCL Live Chat article on Tuesday. Injuries and suspensions lists will be covered there, so be sure to check-in.
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Are there players I’m overlooking? Are my transfer strategies sound? Whom should I captain on each game-day? Please log in let me know what you think of my plans, and then share yours as well!