UEFA Champions League Fantasy managers have just a few days left to finalise their squads for the knockout stages of the tournament.
As the upcoming deadline approaches, we have taken a look at some of the best goalkeepers and defenders to consider.
As we all know from Fantasy Premier League, very few of us like using transfers between the sticks, or overspending on our goalkeepers.
However, in a competition like this, when only the best players in Europe remain, most of the available options are all pretty expensive.
Although we are given a generous number of transfers (three after first legs, five after the second), you don’t want to be wasting those on goalkeepers who tend to not have a great variation in scoring. Therefore, selection a shot-stoppers who look as though they’ll go far in the competition is undoubtedly a sound strategy.
The highest scoring goalkeepers in the competition so far have been Edouard Mendy (€5.2m) and Agustin Marchesin (€5.3m), with 29 and 28 points respectively.
They are both from reasonably defensively sound teams who had nice groups, but their ties look a lot less favourable from here on in.
Marchesin’s Porto are likely to get taken out of the competition by Juventus and I make a habit of not buying goalkeepers who I know are going to face Cristiano Ronaldo (€12.0m two games in a row.
Chelsea steamrollered an easy group but now face runaway La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid. Given Diego Simeone’s prestige in this competition, I don’t give Thomas Tuchel’s side much of a chance, certainly not in the long-term. So, although they’re the top scorers so far, Marchesin and Mendy may well by past their sell-by date as UCL Fantasy picks.
Ederson (€6.0m) and Keylor Navas (€5.5m) are my top picks in the goalkeeper position for the rest of the competition. They both operate behind defences who have been on top domestic form and either could go far in the Champions League knockout stages.
Manchester City have been keeping clean sheets for fun and are about to face a Borussia Monchengladbach side who, while they have a strong attacking record this season, are probably lacking the individual quality to really challenge Pep Guardiola’s side.
With Pep Roulette likely to return with the Champions League fixtures, Ederson will be the most nailed-on member of this Manchester City defence and he could even be on penalties. Defence wins championships, and this City side are playing like they can really challenge for a European title this season.
Since drawing to Saint-Etienne on the day he was appointed, Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG have won all but one of their games, keeping six clean sheets in eight games. They face an inconsistent and largely inexperienced Barcelona side who they should make light work of. Navas is a top-class goalkeeper and PSG should go deep into the competition.
Looking at the best teams left in the competition, you have to mention Bayern Munich. Manuel Neuer (€6.0m) has 24 points so far and Bayern finally look as though they may be tightening up their defence after their 3-2 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach.
They have three clean sheets from their last four games and face a Lazio side who aren’t prolific going forward. I think he’s in the weakest defence of Ederson and Navas, but Bayern could well go all the way once again.
For the last sixteen alone, Wojciech Szczesny (€5.5m) may well be the best pick. Porto haven’t exactly been in scintillating attacking form and Juventus have now only conceded once in their last six competitive games. Andrea Pirlo appears to have found some consistency by building from the back and may well be able to carry this through the competition. He’s likely lacking the managerial experience to make a real push for the Champions League, but could well still be a good pick for at least the next four games.
Jan Oblak (€5.9m) will always be a solid pick in defence and faces a Chelsea side struggling to find real attacking form under a new manager so far. While Atletico have uncharacteristically not kept a clean sheet in their last four league games, Simeone knows how to do well in the Champions League and can marshall one of Europe’s toughest defences when needed.
They are currently five points clear in La Liga with two games in hand, conceding just 12 goals in 20 games. The biggest question mark here is how far can this side really go in a competition that also includes PSG, Manchester City and Bayern Munich.
The cheapest of my suggested goalkeepers may come as a bit of a surprise. Pierluigi Gollini (€4.8m) is the cheapest starting goalkeeper of any team left in the competition and Gian Piero Gasparini’s Atalanta side always have the ability to spring a surprise.
Gollini has kept a clean sheet in both of his games in the competition so far and Atalanta play a Real Madrid side who have struggled for goals and been overly reliant on Karim Benzema (€10.4m), who may well be neutered by the three at the back system. I fancy Atalanta to make a run in this competition after they’ve performed below expectations in the league.
With five defenders allowed in our squads, there is slightly more room to take risks here. Having had the Atalanta keeper at the bottom of the last list, their defenders now stand at the top of this one.
Cristian Romero (€5.1m) is the highest-scoring player in the game, with his 72 balls recovered the most in the game by 18. Playing the poorest Real Madrid side for at least a decade, Romero will likely continue to hoover up balls recovered and could add to the goal and assist he also already has in the competition. At his budget price, he’s a must have in any side.
The Atalanta wing-backs Hans Hateboer (€5.0m) and Robin Gosens (€5.7m) still have high attacking threat, with the latter in particular loving a shot at goal. However, Romero is clearly the better pick and doubling up on their defence may be a step too far.
Angelino (€5.4m) is Leipzig’s highest scorer and assister in all competitions, picking up three of each in the group stages. The Manchester City loanee is part of the best defence in the Bundesliga, which faces an incredibly out-of-sorts Liverpool side who are struggling to find any real form or consistency. For his price, this looks like a classic low-risk, high-potential pick.
However, if Liverpool were to turn their fortunes around, Andrew Robertson (€6.5m) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (€6.7m) will be at the heart of that effort. For their prices, it’s probably not a risk worth taking, but with the league slipping quickly away, Jurgen Klopp may turn all his attention to this competition.
Sevilla are on a run of six clean sheets in a row, with their last game being a 2-0 win over Barcelona. Jules Kounde (€3.9m) is the cheapest sure starter left in the game, scoring in that win over Barcelona.
Sevilla face a Dortmund side in absolute disarray. New manager Edin Terzic cannot seem to organise a defence or really get the best out of his players. Their poor defensive form seems to make Mats Hummels (€5.2m), currently second highest for balls recovered, an afterthought rather than a real option. However, Kounde is a must at his price.
Marquinhos (€5.8m) has 45 balls recovered so far in the competition, nailed on in a top defence and facing a poor Barcelona side. He’s the sort of player you can rely on for points and to hold a space in your squad for the foreseeable future. Neither of the PSG full-backs hold enough attacking threat to be worth looking at over the Brazilian.
One of Europe’s top defences for nearing a decade, Simeone’s Atletico Madrid have a great defensive fixture against Tuchel’s solid but unspectacular Chelsea side, who laboured to score against Barnsley.
Stefan Savic (€4.6m) is cheap, had 43 balls recovered in the group stages and is nailed-on at the back. Savic has been playing on the right hand side of a back-three, with Jose Gimenez (€5.2m) at the centre.
This may well help Gimenez when it comes to balls recovered, as we’ve seen the central defender pick up the most balls recovered across the board in the group stages, with Romero as a prime example, and Savic had been playing in a back-two. Although €0.6m more than Savic, but with more goal threat, Gimenez may be a shrewd pick.
Manchester City currently have the strongest defence in Europe. Given we can afford a spot of Pep roulette, with substitutions as an option, their defenders definitely warrant a look.
João Cancelo (€5.8m) has huge attacking potential but hasn’t quite lived up to it yet. John Stones (€5.1m) and Ruben Dias (€5.6m) have been the key defensive duo in City’s run.
Of the two, Stones seems the stronger pick. He’s cheaper, with a higher goal threat, including a recent brace against Crystal Palace.
As with Szczesny, Juventus’ defenders have the benefit of a great defensive fixture. Since the group stages, Pirlo has moved to a four at the back. Danilo (€5.0m) is now a full-time full-back, which has brought with it added attacking threat. A goal and an assist against Sassuolo, combined with his price, may well make him the best asset in this defence. The other good option is Leonardo Bonucci (€5.5m), who will be nailed-on when he returns from injury before the game.
Last, but certainly not least, on this list, is Joshua Kimmich (€6.6m). He’s a central midfielder in the best attacking side in world football. He’s known for contributing goals and assists at key moments and already has three assists in his three appearances in the competition.
Although Kimmich is expensive, you’re basically getting a nailed-on Bayern attacker for under €7.0m who also gets any clean sheet points and points for balls recovered. Accordingly, he’s an absolute UCL Fantasy goldmine.
A cheaper option in Munich’s defence is David Alaba (€5.5m). He’s nailed-on in the team and has been known to play in central midfield alongside Kimmich. Alaba has picked up 38 balls recovered in the competition and should continue to do well.
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