After a first leg dominated by headlines about Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland’s brilliance, we’re not far away from the start of an exciting set of second-leg ties in the Champions League round of 16.
In a competition known for its comebacks, there are plenty of opportunities for moments of individual brilliance ahead.
In this piece, we look at how to set up your UEFA Champions League Fantasy team for the next round of games.
UCL Fantasy managers all have three free transfers for the new round and there have been plenty of injuries and suspensions to use them up on. It’s best to bring in players from teams you expect to progress to the next round (and hopefully beyond that), so you don’t have to keep using transfers on the same spots.
Nothing has changed in the goalkeeper position and with only three transfers, it’s not a position I’d recommend taking much notice of.
Recent upturns in form from Dortmund and Chelsea make Sevilla and Atletico defenders, who have been very popular, a lot less appealing.
Sevilla in particular were in a rich vein of defensive form ahead of the their first leg at home, but now haven’t won in three games and lost 2-1 to a poor Elche side at the weekend. Their defensive assets can be moved out if possible, but Jules Kounde (4m) is still decent value as the cheapest starting defender in the game.
Atletico defenders like Stefan Savic (4.6m) and Mario Hermoso (4.3m) may well be worth holding onto after a solid Madrid derby draw at the weekend as Marco Simeone returned to his classic ‘four at the back’ formation.
Chelsea’s defence looks great to target this round. They’re yet to lose under Thomas Tuchel and have conceded just twice, with Antonio Rudiger (4.5m), Marcos Alonso (4.6m) and Cesar Azpilicueta (4.9m) all great budget options. Alonso is definitely the most exciting due to his attacking threat, but is a constant rotation threat thanks to Ben Chilwell (5.4m).
Ahead of RB Leipzig’s must-win tie against Liverpool, star man Angelino (5.6m) has been ruled out with injury. If you fancy Leipzig to win this game against a Liverpool side in disarray, Lukas Klostermann (5m) is great for balls recovered now he’s back to full fitness.
With Jorginho (6.1m), Mason Mount (6.9m) and Casemiro (6.2m) all suspended for this round and Jadon Sancho (10m) confirmed out injured, some popular picks are in need of replacing. However, the cheap midfielder bracket is a particularly difficult one to pick players from.
Ilkay Gundogan (6.6m) remains the best choice around his price point, with Marcos Llorente (6.5m) also back playing in central midfield after his stint at right wing-back in the first leg seriously limited any potential output. Marco Verratti (6.4m) has also been playing a creative role recently and should have some joy against a Barcelona side who know they have to score goals.
In terms of more expensive midfielders, more and more options are coming to the fore. Kevin De Bruyne (11.5m) and Raheem Sterling (10.5m) are both strong options for Man City against Gladbach’s terrible defence, while Bayern’s midfield is now back to full strength. Thomas Muller (10m) and Leon Goretzka (7.6m) are fit and firing, joining Leroy Sane (9.5m) and Kingsley Coman (8.4m), who were great in the first leg. They can go into this game without too much pressure after a strong first leg and there should be some goals in their tie. A more exciting option may be Kai Havertz (8.4m) after his revelatory performance last night at false nine. The young German looked worth every bit of his transfer fee and could be well set up to take advantage of Atletico’s need to go for goals.
This is all about Erling Haaland (11.1m) and Kylian Mbappe (10.9m). They scored five goals and got an assist between them in the first legs and now face two sides who will need to attack and leave space open for them to exploit with their frightening speed. If you can get these two in, I’d recommend it.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (12.1m) will both need to produce some serious magic to give their teams hope of going through to the next round. I wouldn’t necessarily buy or sell these two – I just don’t know how much I trust the sides they’re playing for to make the space and chances necessary for them to score highly enough to justify their price tags.
After his hat trick in Der Klassiker this weekend, Robert Lewandowski (12.1m) now has 31 goals in 24 Bundesliga games this season. Lazio will have to attack Bayern to have any hope of going through and Lewandowski should be perfectly placed to continue his ridiculous scoring streak. Find some way of buying the big Pole, or find a nice big sofa to hide behind.
Haaland, Mbappe, De Bruyne and Lewandowski are my favourite captaincy choices for each of the four days, for reasons I’ve highlighted above. However, there are still a series of more leftfield choices.
On Tuesday, we have Alvaro Morata (9m), who scored a brace at the weekend and is still one of this competition’s top scorers after his quality group stage performances. He may be afforded some space with Porto using all their defensive firepower to shut down Ronaldo .
The next day, Christopher Nkunku (7.6m) is in action – he has been a key attacking asset for RB Leipzig of late and will have to put in a big performance for his side to have any hope of seeing the quarter-finals this season.
Karim Benzema (10.4m) is back fit ahead next Tuesday’s games and scored in this weekend’s Madrid derby draw. Although Real are still wracked by injuries, his scoring record in this competition is quality and Atalanta showed in the last leg that they may let the pressure get to them.
And on the final Wednesday before the international break, the aforementioned Kai Havertz is in action. With two assists and a goal disallowed against Everton in the role we’ve wanted to see him in all season, a place in Tuchel’s starting XI looks to be his to lose now. He should be well placed to push Chelsea into the next round of the competition.
As always, good luck all for this round!
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