The UCL Fantasy deadline is just a couple of days away!
Now that the group previews are all wrapped up, here are some player picks for MD1
Yann Sommer (€4.5m, Real Sociedad vs Internazionale)
Inter has kept three clean sheets after four Serie A games and conceded just one goal. Sommer is the standout among keepers, playing on calendar day 2 of Match Day 1.
Dmytro Riznyk (€4.0m, Shakhtar Donetsk vs FC Porto)
Shakhtar hasn’t had the best of starts defensively in the league, keeping just two clean sheets in seven games. But at €4.0m, Riznyk is a cheap enabler with good potential for save points against Porto.Since he plays on Calendar Day 1 he pairs well with Sommer. Riznyk was not part of Shakhtar’s recent match-day squad against Obolon, as the Ukranian was allowed time to mourn his brother’s passing. Artur Rudko, Shakhtar’s new recruit made his debut as a result and kept a clean sheet. Riznyk should start in goal if he’s part of the match-day squad. But if he isn’t part of it, Rudko is a good pick too, priced the same as Riznyk at €4.0m. Tune in to NMA’s UCL live chat for further updates on the Shakhtar goalkeeping situation.
If you are looking at safer options for Calendar Day 1, Barcelona’s Ter Stegen is the stand-out among the premium picks. Barcelona is a solid defense and rarely ship goals at home. The Blaugranas conceded just four goals in 19 La Liga games at the Nou Camp last season and are yet to concede at home in this campaign. Antwerp will find it difficult to break down the Barca backline, especially at the Nou Camp.
If you are looking for cheaper alternatives for calendar day 1, Leipzig’s Janis Blaswich at €4.5m could be a solid option. But veteran Péter Gulácsi returned to the bench in Leipzig’s recent Bundesliga win over Augsburg after sitting out for a year due to a cruciate ligament rupture. So Gulácsi could come into the starting eleven at some point. But it’s unlikely that he’ll start in their UCL opener against Young Boys. Even if he does, Gulácsi himself is a decent pick at €5m. Since the Young Boys vs. Leipzig game is one of the two games kicking off early in the calendar day, the starting lineups will be out before the UCL Fantasy deadline passes. Tune into NMA’s UCL live chat for that piece of information as well!
João Cancelo (€6.0m, FC Barcelona vs Antwerp)
Cancelo is a standout pick for MD-1. Playing in a strong Barcelona backline at home along with his high goal, assist and ball recovery potential is a recipe for a 17-pointer. Cancelo started for Barcelona in their 5-0 win against Real Betis and scored a brilliant individual goal. A sign of things to come perhaps?
David Raum (€4.5m, BSC Young Boys vs RB Leipzig)
Leipzig has started the 22/23 season like a house on fire. The Redbull side beat giants Bayern 3-0 to win the DFL Supercup. Leipzig then went on to record three wins from their first four Bundesliga games to sit third in the league table. Left back Raum has been one of the key creators for Leipzig. Raum has two assists in four league games and also netted a goal in Leipzig’s 3-0 win over Augsburg. Raum was substituted out due to a minor injury in their recent Bundesliga outing. Since the YoungBoys vs Leipzig game is one of the early kickoffs of Calendar Day 1, we’ll know if Raum is in the starting eleven or not. If he isn’t, Leipzig’s right-back Benjamin Henrichs is a good alternative at €4.5m, as the German has netted a goal and provided an assist in four Bundesliga games.
Jules Koundé (€5.0m, FC Barcelona vs Antwerp)
Kounde at €5.0m is a bargain! So far, Koundé has arguably been Barcelona’s best player this season. Along with high clean sheet odds against Antwerp, the French defender also has great ball recovery potential and poses an aerial threat from set pieces. With Araujo not making the match day squad in Barcelona’s recent La Liga outing, Kounde should keep his place in the starting lineup for the Catalans’ UCL opener against Antwerp
Denzel Dumfries (€5.5m, Real Sociedad vs Internazionale)
Inter Milan are in top form ahead of their UCL opener against Real Sociedad. Inter have won all four of their Serie A games, including a derby win over Ac Milan, having scored 13 goals and conceding just one in the process. Dumfries has scored once and assisted twice in four league games. Along with great clean sheet potential, the Dutch wing-back also offers great goal and assist potential, facing a Real Sociedad side that has kept just one clean sheet in four La Liga games. Inter’s left wing-back Federico Dimarco is an equally good pick at €5.5m. The Italian has already provided three assists in four games. Dumfries offers a higher goal threat. Dimarco has a higher assist potential.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo (€5.5m, SC Braga vs Napoli)
Napoli hasn’t had the best of starts to their Serie A campaign. The 22/23 Italian champions have already dropped five points from a possible 12, sitting fifth in the league table, keeping just one clean sheet in the process. But Di Lorenzo has continued to churn out attacking contributions having scored once and assisted twice in four games. UCL MD-1 opponents Braga have looked shaky defensively, conceding 10 goals in five Portuguese league games. Although Napoli’s clean sheet odds don’t look great, Di Lorenzo could more than make up for that with his attacking returns.
Besides Man City, Bayern arguably have the best attack in the competition. Sané is on a goal-scoring hot streak, having already netted three goals in four Bundesliga games this season. The German winger is going to have a lot of joy running at a Man United backline that has conceded 10 goals in five premier league games, making the ex-Man City winger a good captaincy option for Calendar day 2. Leave him out at your peril.
Calvin Stengs (€6.0m, Feyenoord vs Celtic)
Feyenoord are Eredivisie’s top scorers this season with 19 goals in five games. Stengs is the creative heartbeat of the team with four assists and a goal in five league outings. Although Celtic has a decent defensive record in the Scottish league, the Champions League is a different beast. In the 22/23 UCL season, Celtic finished last in the UCL group stages, shipping 15 goals in the process. Stengs has a good goal and assist potential at €6.0m, which is a rarity as most of the popular picks at this price point are defensive midfielders.
Fellow Feynoord new recruit Luka Ivanusec is a good budget alternative at €4.5m as the Croatian has already netted a goal and an assist from two starts. Ivanusec netted 12 goals and provided four assists from 29 Croatian league starts for Dinamo Zagreb in the 22/23 season. In terms of other options at this price point, Real Sociedad’s Ander Barrenetxea is the stand-out. Barrenetxea has already netted two goals in three La Liga starts for Sociedad and could be the most attacking budget enabler available in the game.
Marcus Thuram (€6.5m, Real Sociedad vs Internazionale)
Thuram is the standout pick in the mid-priced midfielders section. Listed as a midfielder, the French man starts up front for Inter Milan alongside Lautaro Martinez. Thuram has already scored two goals and provided three assists in four Serie A appearances. Real Sociedad haven’t had the best of starts defensively and should provide plenty of chances for Thuram & Co to capitalize on
Xavi Simons (€6.5m, BSC Young Boys vs RB Leipzig)
Playing on Bern’s astroturf should suit Leipzig’s high-tempo style to a tee. Xavi Simons is the main creator of the free-flowing RB Leipzig attack. The 20-year-old has already scored three goals and tops the Bundesliga assists chart with four.
Jude Bellingham (€7.5m, Real Madrid vs. 1. FC Union Berlin)
Bellingham is arguably the best midfielder in the world at the moment. Playing as the Number 10 in the Real Madrid midfield, the English starboy has already scored five goals, including two late-game winners to top the La Liga scoring charts. With an ownership of 74%, Bellingham is currently the highest-owned player in the game. Going against him could prove costly. And why exactly would anyone do that? Especially when Real Madrid plays a leaky Union Berlin at the Bernabeu.
Robert Lewandowski (€10.5m, FC Barcelona vs Antwerp)
After a rusty start to the season, Lewangolski is back to scoring goals again. The striker has now scored in each of Barca’s last three games and seems to be peaking at the right time. The former Bayern striker is a good differential captaincy choice for Calendar Day 1. But then again, who would dare do that when Haaland plays Crvena Zvezda at home? Not me.
Erling Haaland (€11.5m, Manchester City vs Crvena Zvezda)
Haaland is the best striker in the world playing for the best team in the competition, facing a leaky Crvena Zvezda defense at home. The Norweigian is the best captaincy pick for calendar day 1, hands down, enough said. Haaland should be the first pick on everyone’s drafts.
Julián Álvarez (€7.0m, Manchester City vs Crvena Zvezda)
With Pep hailing Álvarez as “almost undroppable”, he becomes a great budget fantasy option at €7.0m. The 23-year-old has scored twice and assisted thrice, starting all five games in the Premier League. But could this be one of Pep’s evil tricks? The most Pep thing to do would be to drop Álvarez the very next game. But since Man City plays on Calendar day 1, Álvarez is worth a gamble.
If you don’t want to play Pep roulette, Harry Kane and Victor Osimhen are safer alternatives at €10m. Kane has already scored four goals in as many appearances and should get plenty of opportunities to score against a struggling Man United defense. Osimhen is Napoli’s talisman having scored three goals in four Serie A games. Mauro Icardi is a good cheaper alternative at €9.0m. The Argentine has rejuvenated his career by moving to Galatasaray. The ultrAslan have warmed to Icardi straight away, as the former PSG striker is producing on the pitch, having already scored eight goals in as many appearances and guiding the Turkish champions to the Champions League group stages by scoring crucial goals in the qualifiers.
How is your team shaping up? Who will be the top point- getter in MD-1? Have questions of your own, please feel free to post them in the comments