Group-D is one of the most balanced, so any of the teams could qualify. Benfica, seeded first, was eliminated by second-seeded Inter in the quarterfinals last season, while Salzburg and Real Sociedad have consistently participated in European competitions in recent years.
UEFA Rank - 15th
Benfica, the top seed in this group, is the favorite to secure the group’s top spot. Benfica’s advantage lies in their team stability, as they’ve managed to retain most of their players from the previous season.
Di Maria’s return to Benfica shouldn’t be mistaken for a retirement move. He has been consistently starting and making a significant impact in every game since the start of the new season.
From a fantasy perspective, despite elimination in the quarterfinals last season, Joao Mario was one of the top point-scorers throughout the competition. Though Di Maria has taken over set-piece duties, Benfica, the second-highest scoring team last season, will continue to provide plenty of opportunities for Joao Mario.
Predicted Starting 11
(4-2-3-1): Soares, Bah - Silva - Otamendi - Aursnes, Neves - Kokcu, Di Maria - Silva - Mario, Musa
Penalty takers - Di Maria
Free kicks - Di Maria
Corners - Di Maria
Fantasy Picks - Di Maria, Joao Mario
UEFA Rank - 8th
Inter Milan had a bustling summer transfer window bidding farewell to key players Andre Onana, Romelu Lukaku and Marcelo Brozovic plus several important rotational players. While the club has brought in capable replacements, the overall chemistry and competitiveness don’t quite match up to the coefficient ranking earned last season.
As fantasy prospects, one Inter Milan asset to consider is defender Bastoni (5.5). He accumulated the second-highest number of points in the game last season, trailing only Real Madrid superstar Vinicius Junior. Additionally, you might want to keep an eye on set piece specialist Hakan Calhanoglu and wing-back Dimarco, as they are other strong options.
Predicted Starting 11 (3-5-2) - Sommer, Darmian - de Vrij - Bastoni, Dumfries - Barella - Calhanoglu - Mkhitaryan - Dimarco, Martinez - Thuram
Penalty takers - Hakan Calhanoglu
Free kicks - Hakan Calhanoglu
Corners - Hakan Calhanoglu
Fantasy Picks - Bastoni, Dimarco, Calhanoglu
FC Red Bull Salzburg
UEFA Rank - 32nd
You might not be very familiar with RB Salzburg as a club, but you’ve likely heard of some players who have emerged from its academy (e.g. Erling Haaland, Dominik Szoboszlai, Dayot Upamecano, Sadio Mane...). That track record demonstrates that the club consistently produces top-quality players. It’ll be worth watching to see if any new talents will emerge from Salzburg’s academy in this season.
Mining for fantasy assets, defender Dedic has played the full 540 minutes in the new season and has been particularly impressive. He has scored two goals and provided two assists in just six matches. You might also want to keep an eye on Konate, who is currently the top scorer for the team.
Predicted Starting 11 (4-4-2) - Schlager, Dedic - Solet - Pavlovic - Terzic, Bidstrup - Douath - Kjaergaard - Amankwah, Simic - Konate
Penalty takers - Konate
Free kicks - Bidstrup
Corners - Bidstrup
Fantasy Picks - Konate, Dedic
UEFA Rank - 44th
Real Sociedad’s return to the UEFA Champions League after a decade is a significant achievement. The club participated in the Europa League for three consecutive seasons before this. David Silva’s retirement this summer was undoubtedly a blow, as the attacking system was built around him last season, playing a crucial role in the fourth-place domestic finish that qualified Sociedad for UCL. Also missing is Andre Silva, a new buy who is recovering from a hamstring injury.
Fantasy managers may take interest in Oyarzabal, the main striker and primary penalty taker. Japanese right-winger Kubo is also worth a look — He has been driving the attack and scoring in league games since the beginning of the season.
Predicted Starting 11 (4-3-3) - Remiro, Traore - Zubeldia - Le Normand - Tierny, Mendez - Zubimendi - Merino, Kubo - Oyarzabal - Barrenetxea
Penalty takers - Oyarzabal
Free kicks - Oyarzabal
Corners - Kubo
Fantasy Picks - Oyarzabal , Kubo
Stats and info for this article were sourced from uefa.com
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Red Bull Salzburg