We come to the final fantasy picks of the season with the Champions’ League final on Saturday. You need to be here about one hour before kick-off (1.5 hours before is ideal) when we’ll know the two lineups, and for the only time this season you can virtually guarantee a team of eleven starters — well, assuming there is no warm-up disaster (and you may cover that as an afterthought with one live player on your bench).
If you haven’t already, have a read of MiQ’s finals preview article, and make sure you look at his pre-deadline chat article which will discuss team news and injuries, and on match-day, PPQ will post the live chat, which is the place to be on Saturday!
We have five free transfers for the final, and we’re allowed to buy up to eight players from one team. Bear in mind that you need to field only 11 players, so it doesn’t much matter who is on the bench (although you might want to have one finalist there just in case of a late withdrawal — and you don’t want to hit the 8-man limit because of a bench-warmer).
Hopefully for most of us, we are not too constrained by gaping holes left by eliminated or injured players — indeed I already have ten from City and Inter, so some of my transfers could ship some out for better/starting prospects!
MiQ has proposed not going too heavy on either team, but depending on your league position, you might be willing to gamble. Making up ground is difficult with just one game and a lot of the same players featuring in every fantasy team. In all likelihood, any gamble will see you lose rather than gain ground, but that’s all part of the fun.
And of course the captain choice is crucial — I suspect there will be a huge majority going with Haaland, so if you look elsewhere that would be a differential (YMMV). My differential picks this season have nearly all been negative ones, so I am not too inclined to think different this time.
Man City is the favorite, and I can’t see them not scoring, but finals are notoriously difficult to predict. A comfortable win for them looks unlikely, although not impossible. As a result I’m tending to favor City players.
Looking at the costs of players left, it doesn’t look like budget will be a major issue, since a lot of the expensive Real Madrid names have gone, and the likely City and Inter starters are generally not so highly priced.
Lets go through the players I’m considering for the final:
It’s a binary choice here, and there may be little to choose between them points-wise. Ederson has a better clean sheet chance, while Andre Onana will likely have to make more saves. It’s Ederson for me, assuming that extra €1m doesn’t come in more handy elsewhere.
The two highest point-scoring defenders, also the two most-costly, are Alessandro Bastoni from Inter and Ruben Dias from City. Both look like solid choices and will likely be in most teams including mine.
John Stones has been a revelation in his new more advanced role at City, so I like him in this game.
Also playing in an advanced position is Denzel Dumfries of Inter. It’s a game where a clean sheet for either side looks more like a bonus than an expectation, so going with advanced players makes sense.
I’m also tempted by either Federico Dimarco from Inter (if fit) and Manual Akanji from City, but am not at this stage planning to play five defenders.
Kevin De Bruyne is already nailed-in to my team (and most others). If Bernardo Silva starts, then I like him too. He has had three big-scoring games (away at Seville, against Bayern Munich , and against Real Madrid), so he’s definitely one for the big games.
For Inter, Hakan Calhanoglu has been very consistent. He hasn’t made my team so far, but I’m looking to bring him in for the final. His teammate Nicolo Barella is another consistent Inter midfielder worth consideration.
I’m planning to play four midfielders, and while the four above may be my selections, I already have Rodri who looks likely to make only my bench. I’ll also watch Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez for starts since they are potentially more explosive options.
Erling Haaland (c) — which is virtually his new full name. If you don’t go with him, you are very brave.
My last spot looks likely to go to Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan, another big game player.
At this stage in the competition, forward options are not plentiful, and budget doesn’t look a problem for me, so I’m not even planning to replace Benzema. If you do need a third forward, Julian Alvarez would be a good option if he starts, but that isn’t particularly likely. Edin Dzeko may be your only starting 3rd option.
So there are my not especially surprising picks for the final. If I could already see some surprising starters, then I might have more to say, but that will have to wait for the countdown hour on Saturday.
I’ve had a decent season in UCL fantasy, and although I’ve made similar choices to regular contributor Chris Manfredi, I’ve had to watch him gradually move ahead into the far distance. Still, it has been my best UCL season, and nearly all of that is down to the advice from the team here at Never Manage Alone, so thank you everyone, and I hope my suggestions have been helpful to some readers too.
This is my last article writing for NMA, so I’d like to thank everyone in the community for their support and encouragement. I’ll still be around in the comments and wish everyone success on Saturday and in Fantasy seasons to come!
Whom have I missed? Is there an unheralded player you think will shine in the final? Do you agree with my 4-4-2 format and 6-5 player split in favor of City? Did the semifinal results leave you with transfer difficulties due to eliminated players? And whom would you captain if not Haaland? Please log in and let us know!