UEFA Champions League Fantasy managers still have plenty of important decisions to make even as the round of 16 edges to a closer.
We are three-quarters of the way through the first knockout stage but there seems to be plenty of drama left in the competition.
There are two games this evening so we’re here to run through how they are likely to play out and what it means for your UCL Fantasy side.
Manchester City v Borussia Mönchengladbach (2-0 agg.)
These two sides couldn’t come into this game on more different runs of form. Manchester City’s derby loss nine days ago is their only defeat since November and, with a fully fit squad, they are showing no signs of slowing down.
The Citizens’ two most recent games are a 5-2 victory over Southampton and 3-0 win at Fulham, highlighting their goalscoring form in particular.
Pep Guardiola rested a number of key attacking men at Craven Cottage too, meaning Ilkay Gundogan (€6.6m), Phil Foden (€7.1m), Raheem Sterling (€10.5m) and Kevin De Bruyne (€11.3m) look set to return for the trip to Budapest and could well all be among the points.
Conversely, Gladbach are in absolute disarray. They haven’t won in their last seven Bundesliga games and are on a six-game losing streak in all competitions.
They are struggling to score, completely incapable of defending and look set to be given a footballing lesson by Guardiola’s resplendent City side.
From a Fantasy point of view, there’s very little to consider from this Gladbach team other than how many goals City might score against them.
Earning a rest after his brace against Southampton, De Bruyne comes into this Champions League game fresh and in goalscoring form making him my top pick for captaincy this week.
Definitely substitute on any City players you have that start and consider moving your armband to one of De Bruyne, Foden, Sterling or Gundogan if you haven’t hit a score you want so far.
The latter has moved further back in City’s line-up recently after De Bruyne’s return, but is still very much capable of popping up with goals and assists, especially in Europe.
Real Madrid v Atalanta (1-0 agg.)
The return leg should help us compare these two teams accurately. A full-strength, but 10-man, Atalanta were uninspired and unimpressive against a Real side absolutely decimated by injuries.
This is Zinedine Zidane’s competition and with a side much closer to full fitness, Real should have the strength to see out the win here.
Karim Benzema (€10.4m) was the star man in their 2-1 weekend win over Elche, scoring both the Madrid goals. The return of Sergio Ramos (€6.5m) is massive for Zidane’s men, and he should take back over penalty duty and is known for his impressive performances in this competition.
For Atalanta, they’ve followed a similar pattern in recent weeks. In games against poorer opposition, they’ve been a clinical steamroller, scoring goals for fun.
Striker Luis Muriel (€8.2m) has tended to follow that pattern, gaining a reputation in Serie A as a flat-track bully. In the tough games against top quality opposition, Atalanta have been inconsistent at best, highlighted by recent losses to Inter Milan and Lazio.
Their 3-1 weekend victory over Spezia was an impressive display of attacking football, as was their 5-1 win against Crotone two weeks ago.
However, they capitulated in the first leg of this tie and I struggle to see them not repeating that in this leg. Still, Cristian Romero (€5.5m) managed another 10 balls recovered in the first leg and will likely be set for another five points at least in this tie, regardless of the final score.
From this tie, Benzema stands out as a decent differential captaincy choice. The Frenchman has carried the weight of Real’s attacking hopes on his shoulders all season and this evening should be no different.
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