What a week of Champions League football that was! Goals, thrills and upsets - It had it all. The Champions League’s kickoff also marked the start of a new season of UCL Fantasy, with some managers coming away with big points from MD-1. Making the right decisions in the group stages is crucial for a good rank. That’s where I’ll need your help. Before looking at my plans for MD-2, here’s how my MD-1 went.
Dinamo Zagreb vs Chelsea(0-1)
Going with double Chelsea FC defense was not the ideal start to my fantasy campaign as Zagreb starman Mislav Oršić scored early to wipe out my clean sheet points. On paper, it still feels like the right decision as Ben Chilwell was a constant attacking threat throughout the game, while Kepa at €4.5 m was too good a bargain to ignore.
Borussia Dortmund vs FC Copenhagen (3-0)
Going with Marco Reus and Raphaël Guerreiro worked out well in Dortmund’s home game against FC Copenhagen. Reus continued his fine goal-scoring form by giving Dortmund the lead while €4.5m gem Guerreiro finished a brilliant team move to double the Black and Yellows’ lead at the stroke of halftime. Jude Bellingham outpointed Reus despite being half a million cheaper, but the thought of picking Bellingham never crossed my mind as the English midfielder neither scored nor assisted in six prior league games.
RB Leipzig vs Shakhtar Donetsk (1-4)
Nkunku had a fairly quiet game by his standards, much like the rest of the RB Leipzig side, as a motivated Shakhtar Donetsk shocked the German club with a 1-4 away victory.
Sevilla FC vs Man City (0-4)
Manchester City’s trip to Sevilla ended in a 4-0 thrashing of the home side, Haaland bagging ten points for my fantasy team by scoring a brace. Man City posted a ridiculous xG of 4.03, further highlighting the fact that City’s consistently high goal output is sustainable. Haaland won’t be leaving my fantasy team any time soon. With him grabbing all the fantasy attention, it was Joao Cancelo who was my fantasy team’s hero, earning 15 points by providing two assists and keeping a clean sheet.
Paris SG vs Juventus (2-1)
Gambling the first-day captaincy on Neymar in the PSG vs Juventus game didn’t quite pay off — Mbappe hauled while Neymar provided just an assist for Mbappe’s first goal. Going for Mbappe over Neymar was something that I had thought about briefly, but I went with the latter as the Brazilian was the in-form player and cheaper.
Benfica vs Maccabi Haifa (2-0)
In the last game of calendar day 1, Benfica coasted past Maccabi Haifa with a 2-0 victory. Budget €4.5m midfielder Florentino Luis tallied 5 points for my fantasy team through ball recoveries and a clean sheet, while €6m midfielder Joao Mario had a quiet night in front of goal. A player I didn’t pick - Alejandro Grimaldo was the star of this fixture — the defender scored a goal and provided an assist to post a chart-topping 20 points in MD-1.
Ajax vs Rangers (4-0)
Day 2 of MD-1 kicked off with a thumping 4-0 win for Ajax. Bergwijn scored a goal, and €4.0m budget pick Calvin Bassey keept a clean sheet. €5.0 midfielder Mohamed Kudus impressed with a goal and an assist. Kudus is firmly on my watch-list for future games.
Atlético Madrid vs FC Porto (2-1)
Atletico Madrid edged past Porto with a nervy 2-1 win, courtesy of a stoppage-time winner from permanent super-sub Antoine Griezmann. With rumors of Oblak’s injury, backup goalkeeper Ivo Grbić was the favorite to start in goal. Considering this, I subbed out MD-1 keeper Kepa for Grbic, hoping that the Croatian got a start. However, on hearing that fantasy managers were picking Grbic, Oblak was rushed back from the physio’s office and stretchered onto the field, which cost me (and hundreds of others) 2 fantasy points. Right decision, wrong outcome — Grrr.
Barcelona vs Viktoria Plzen (5-1)
In the last game of MD-1, Barcelona thrashed Viktoria Plzen 5-1, my day-2 captain Robert Lewandowski scoring a hattrick while defender Joule Kounde tallied seven points without a CS. Had I captained Haaland on day-1 instead of Neymar, I wouldn’t have switched. Essentially, a captaincy error on day 1 resulted in more overall points. Wrong decision, right outcome.
MD-2 transfer plan
It’s essential to attack the group stages to get the best possible ranks. Staying aggressive and taking calculated risks is the way to go. Going with this theme, I’ve activated my limitless chip for MD-2. This is how my limitless team looks at the moment:
Doubling up on the PSG attack is a no-brainer against Maccabi Haifa where Kylian Mbappe and Neymar expect to rack up big points. Although Borussia Dortmund looks like a hard fixture on paper, stats suggest that Man City is favored to win comfortably against the Black and Yellows. Erling Haaland will be extra motivated against his former club, and I’m not missing out on those points. Haaland is my third forward for MD-2.
Although Bayern vs Barcelona could be a tight game, the Bavarian giants arguably have the most potent front line in the competition, with Sadio Mane spearheading the attack. Bayern could expose Barcelona’s weakness against quick counter-attacks, with Mane being the most likely goal scorer for the German side.
Real Madrid faces a struggling RB Leipzig side that lost 4-1 to Shakhtar in MD-1. Vinicius Jr could have a field day in front of goal against the Red Bulls’ leaky defense.
Elsewhere, Tottenham vs Sporting CP is another interesting game that could go either way. Underlying stats suggest Heung Min Son has been unlucky to remain goalless so far this season. All signs point towards Son regaining his goal-scoring touch, and I’m all for it. Son goes straight into my MD-2 Limitless team.
Like Son, Mo Salah has been unlucky not to score as many goals as usual. The MD-2 fixture could suit the Egyptian as the brave Ajax side will look to play on the front foot, leaving gaps for Salah and Co to exploit.
Although Shakhtar defeated RB Leipzig 4-1 in MD-1, it was the German side that had the better chances in the game. If Celtic is efficient in chance conversion, we could see Celts’ star man Kyogo Furuhashi among the goals, which is why he makes the cut.
Achraf Hakimi, Theo Hernandez, and João Cancelo all pick themselves as they are the best attacking-defenders with the easiest fixtures for clean sheets. Keepers André Onana and Mike Maignan have good clean sheet potentials in calendar day one and two respectively. Nuno Tavares and Robin Gosens have great fixtures, with good potential for attacking returns. But other options could sway my plans. Here’s where I’ll need your help. Please suggest the best alternatives for Gosens and Tavares by answering the below poll:
Best alternatives for Nuno Tavares and Robin Gosens
This poll is closed
None, Stick with them
Trent Alexander Arnold and Nuno Tavares
Trent Alexander Arnold and Robin Gosens
Trent Alexander Arnold and Reece James
Trent Alexander Arnold and Denzel Dumfries
None of the above, Check the comments
Be sure to read MiQ’s MD-2 Preview article as well as Sraxan’s MD-2 Players picks. Also check out DTuron’s guide to fantasy UCL strategy, written by last season’s global winner. Then please join me, and thousands of others in NMA’s UCL mini-league, and be sure to follow www.nevermanagealone.com for ongoing comprehensive coverage of fantasy Champions League (and EPL and World Cup too!).