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Champions League Fantasy Preview: UCL Group-H

Barcelona, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk & Royal Antwerp: A group of fantasy gems!

Robert Lewandowski - FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League
Can Barcelona’s Lewandowski regain his Champions League mojo?
Photo by David Aliaga/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Attention! The Champions League is just a week away, and so is the UCL fantasy deadline.

It’s time to start tinkering with those drafts, and here’s some food for thought from Group H…

Will the Joao duo shine bright in Group H?
Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

FC Barcelona

UEFA Ranking: 14th

Manager: Xavi

Qualified Via: Winning La Liga

2023 UCL finish: Group Stage exit (3rd place shift to Europa League, Round of 32 exit)


Five-time Champions League champion Barcelona has steadied the ship after firing blanks in La Liga opener away at Getafe. The Blaugranas sit third in La Liga at ten points from four games, scoring eight goals and conceding four in the process. After a sluggish start in front of goal, last season’s top scorer Lewandowski is back in form,netting in consecutive games for La Liga champions. The midfield trio of Gündoğan, Romeu, and Dejong (Pedri Injured) offers the perfect balance of creativity in attack and stability in defense.

Gündoğan should be a great fantasy asset once he settles in at Barcelona, but the German isn’t yet on the same wavelength as his new teammates, so he doesn’t justify his €8m fantasy price tag. There are better picks in and around his price point (Bellingham, Sane, Thuram, Galeno, etc.).

Lamine Yamal impressed in the games he featured in and could be a good buy if he continues playing. But the 16-year-old came into the starting line-up only because of Raphinha’s suspension. Although Yamal has done well enough, Xavi will likely start experienced Raphinha over the young prodigy in the UCL.

João Félix is one to monitor for now — The Portuguese attacker is yet to start a game for Barcelona, but with the lack of options on Barca’s left flank, Felix could be handed a start immediately. However, there are plenty of talismanic forwards in the game at Felix’s price point (Giroud, Haller, etc.), making him a wait-and-watch.

Balde and Cancelo are the standouts in the Barcelona defense. The Barcelona back line was brilliant last season, conceding just 20 goals in 38 La Liga games. With an easy group on paper, Barcelona should be able to produce clean sheets. Balde and Cancelo also have great assist and ball-recovery potential, making the fullbacks good buys. Cancelo came on for Roberto in Barcelona’s 2-1 La Liga win over Osasuna and impressed. The Portuguese fullback is expected to start against Real Betis and to keep his place for the Champions League opener against Royal Antwerp.

Although Ter Stegen is one of the best options in the premium goalkeeping price bracket, I recommend that you go for cheaper alternatives like Sommer, Kepa, etc because funds are more useful elsewhere.


Predicted Starting 11:


Marc-André ter Stegen©; João Cancelo, Jules Koundé, Andreas Christensen, Alejandro Balde; Oriol Romeu,Frenkie de Jong, İlkay Gündoğan; Raphinha, Gavi, Robert Lewandowski


Penalty takers- Lewandowski

Freekick- Gündoğan ,Raphinha, Frenkie de Jong

Corners- Gündoğan, Raphinha

Fantasy Picks:

Robert Lewandowski (€10.5m,Forward), İlkay Gündoğan (€8m,Midfielder), João Cancelo (€6m, Defender) , Alejandro Balde (€6m, Defender)

Will Galeno be back at his best?
Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP via Getty Images

FC Porto

UEFA Ranking: 19th

Manager: Sérgio Conceição

Qualified Via: Finishing 2nd in the Liga Portugal

2023 UCL finish: Round of 16 Exit


Porto has had a shaky start to the domestic campaign. Although the results read three wins and a draw from four games played, that doesn’t quite paint the full picture. The performances of the 2021-22 Portuguese champions haven’t been up to the mark. The departures of star winger Otávio and midfield general Mateus Uribe have made it difficult for Porto to find traction. Star striker Taremi, who is struggling in front of goal, hasn’t fully recovered from the slump of his failed transfer to Milan. The Iranian is yet to score a goal this season. Porto’s talisman Galeno hasn’t got going either. The Brazilian missed a penalty and looked rusty in the draw against Arouca in the Estádio do Dragão.

Perhaps the international break comes at the right time for Porto, who have been missing their leaders, both on and off the pitch. Former Real Madrid center-back and club captain Pepe missed the Arouca game due to injury. Manager Sérgio Conceição served a 23-day touchline ban for refusing to leave the field after receiving a red card for misconduct. But Porto can draw positives from the fact that, despite all the chaos, the Dragons still found a way to churn out wins.

Galeno could be a great fantasy asset at €6.5m — He’s Porto’s main penalty and set-piece taker. Taremi could be a good pick at €8m, but poor form makes him a wait-and-watch for now. Nico González at €4.5m could be a great budget midfielder option with good ball recovery and assist potential. Ivan Marcano and Wendell are the standouts from the Porto back line as they have the best attacking potential. Marcano is one of Porto’s main aerial threats from set pieces and currently tops the club’s goal-scoring charts with two goals in four league games.

Wendell shares set pieces and free kicks with Galeno, which adds to his assist potential. However, Wendell is a slight rotation risk as Zaidu could slot in at left-back. Although 2022-23 UCL fantasy hero Diego Costa at €5.5m is pricey, the Portuguese goalkeeper could be worth a shot, especially if he continues saving penalties at the rate he did last season.


Predicted Starting 11:


Diogo Costa; João Mário, Fábio Cardoso(Pepe ©), Iván Marcano , Wendell; Galeno,Stephen Eustaquio, Nico González, Pepê; Mehdi Taremi, Toni Martínez


Penalty takers- Galeno, Mehdi Taremi

Free kicks- Galeno, Wendell, Zaidu

Corners- Galeno, Wendell,Zaidu

Fantasy Picks:

Galeno(€6.5m,Midfielder) ,Nico González(€4.5m,Midfielder), Iván Marcano (€4.5m,Defender)

Zubkov scored against Madrid. Will he do the same against their rivals?
Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images

FC Shakhtar Donetsk

UEFA Ranking: 22nd

Manager: Patrick van Leeuwen

Qualified Via: Winning-Premier Liga(Ukrainian 1st division)

2023 UCL finish: Group Stage exit (3rd place shift to Europa League, Round of 16 exit)


Shakhtar Donetsk went into the international break sitting atop the Ukrainian league table — familiar territory for them. Striker Danylo Sikan has started every league game for Shakhtar, scoring a goal and providing an assist in six games. Sikan is also one of the main penalty takers for Shakhtar making the Ukranian a good budget forward at €5m.

Artem Bondarenko was Shakhtar’s top scorer in the 2022-23 season and shares penalties with Sikan and Sudakov. But at €7m, Bondarenko is essentially priced out of the game as there are better alternatives at this price point.

Kashchuk, Zubkov, and Sudakov are the other fantasy options from the Shakhtar midfield. Zubkov and Kashchuk share set pieces. Sudakov is one of the main penalty takers for Shakhtar.

Matvienko is the stand-out option from the Shakhtar back line. The center-back is Shakhtar’s top goal scorer, netting three goals over three games, including a direct free kick. But at €5m, there are better options available than a defender who scores only one goal per match. Also: Matvienko picked up an Achilles tendon injury during international duty, making him a doubt for Shakhtar’s UCL opener against Porto.

Defender Eduard Kozik and goalkeeper Dmytro Riznyk could be decent budget enablers at €4m. Shakhtar has bought Artur Rudko to replace star goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin, but Rudko hasn’t made the Shakhtar squad yet, so deputy Riznyk’s place in goal remains plausible in the short term.


Predicted Starting 11:


Dmytro Riznyk; Giorgi Gocholeishvili, Eduard Kozik, Dmytro Chygrynskyi (Mykola Matvienko), Irakli Azarovi; Georgiy Sudakov; Artem Bondarenko, Dmytro Kryskiv, Oleksandr Zubkov, Oleksiy Kashchuk; Danylo Sikan


Penalty takers- Danylo Sikan,Georgiy Sudakov,Artem Bondarenko

Free kicks- Oleksandr Zubkov, Oleksiy Kashchuk, Mykola Matvienko

Corners- Oleksandr Zubkov, Oleksiy Kashchuk

Fantasy Picks: - Danylo Sikan (€5m,Forward) , Oleksandr Zubkov (€6m,Midfielder) ,Oleksiy Kashchuk (€5.5m,Midfielder)

Royal Antwerp F.C

Can Vincent Janssen help Antwerp shock the world?
Photo by Joris Verwijst/BSR Agency\Getty Images

UEFA Ranking: 73rd

Manager: Mark van Bommel

Qualified Via: Qualification finals

2023 UCL finish: N/A(no European tournament participation)


After a 64-year absence, Royal Antwerp made the Champions League group stage with a heroic qualifier playoff win over Greek giant AEK Athens. Belgian Champion Antwerp hasn’t started well domestically, sitting eighth in the Belgian league after five games. Antwerp has an injury crisis at the back with club captain Toby Alderweireld and left-backs Sam Vines & Owen Wijndal all doubts for Antwerp’s UCL opener against Barcelona.

The Antwerp defense, including starting goalkeeper Jean Butez (€4.5m, same as Inter Milan starter Yann Sommer) is a no-go at the moment. There are few notable options in the Belgian side’s attack. Vincent Janssen is the talisman of the team. The Dutchman is the designated penalty and direct free-kick taker. At €7.5m, Janssen could be a useful budget forward option. Michel-Ange Balikwisha takes corners and indirect freekicks for Antwerp. But Balikwisha is not a great fantasy option as the winger is classified as a forward and Janssen is the better pick.


Predicted Starting 11:


Jean Butez; Jelle Bataille, Soumaïla Coulibaly, Alhassan Yusuf(Toby Alderweireld©), Zeno Van Den Bosch (Owen Wijndal); Arthur Vermeeren,Mandela Keita; Arbnor Muja, Jurgen Ekkelenkamp, Michel-Ange Balikwisha; Vincent Janssen


Penalty takers- Vincent Janssen, Arthur Vermeeren

Freekick- Vincent Janssen, Michel-Ange Balikwisha, Jacob Ondrejka

Corners- Michel-Ange Balikwisha,Jacob Ondrejka

Fantasy Picks: Vincent Janssen(€7.5m,Forward)


Prediction for the Group:

  1. Barcelona
  2. FC Porto
  3. Shakhtar Donetsk
  4. Royal Antwerp

What is your prediction for this group? Which stars from Group-H do you think will shine brightest? Please take our poll and share your thoughts in the comments!



Which club will win Group H?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    FC Barcelona
    (15 votes)
  • 11%
    FC Porto
    (2 votes)
  • 5%
    Shakhtar Donetsk
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Royal Antwerp
    (0 votes)
18 votes total Vote Now