Champions League Fantasy Preview – Matchday 3

Matchday 3 Preview

After a long international break, it’s time to get back to fantasy football. That also means the grand daddy of them all is back too, Champions League fantasy football! We’re already at matchday 3 of fantasy Champions League. UCL fantasy has had a riveting start with a couple of high scoring matchdays with fascinating proportions of talismans and differentials delivering substantial returns. The below table exhibits the success stories so far:

Talisman Differentials
Lionel Messi, €11.5m, 24 points Nikola Vlasic, €6.5m, 18 points
Philippe Coutinho, €8.5m, 13 points Junior Moraes, €6.0m, 11 points
Neymar, €11.0m, 16 points Moussa Marega, €7.5m, 10 points
Kylian Mbappe, €10.0m, 15 points Miralem Pjanic, €8.5m, 16 points
Edinson Cavani, €11.0m, 11 points Cengiz Under, €7.0m, 16 points
Antoine Griezmann, €10.5m, 15 points Nicolas Tagliafico, €4.5m, 19 points
Edin Dzeko, €10.0m, 15 points Memphis Depay, €8.5m, 6 points
Paul Pogba, €9.0m, 19 points Leonardo Bonucci,  €6.0m, 17 points
Marco Reus, €9.0m, 16 points Paolo Dybala, €10.0m, 14 points
Jordi Alba, €6.5m, 16 points

The glaring ommission from this table is one Cristiano Ronaldo. The world player of the year had a disappointing Champions League for Juventus as he saw red albeit under harsh circumstances. He subsequently missed Juventus’ matchday 2 game against Young Boys but is back to face his former club Man Utd. With the injury to Lionel Messi expect his ownership to increase! We discuss Ronaldo more later in the article.

Fantasy Champions League Matchday 3 Fixtures

Day 1 – Tuesday 23rd October

  • AEK Athens vs Bayern Munich
  • SC Young Boys vs Valencia
  • Ajax vs Benfica
  • Hoffenheim vs Lyon
  • Manchester United vs Juventus
  • Real Madrid vs FC Viktoria Plzen
  • Roma vs CSKA Moscow
  • Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City

Day 2 – Wednesday 24th October

  • Club Brugge vs Monaco
  • PSV Eindhoven vs Tottenham
  • Barcelona vs Inter Milan
  • Borussia Dortmund vs Atletico Madrid
  • Galatasaray vs Schalke
  • Liverpool vs Crvena Zvezda
  • Lokomotiv Moscow vs FC Porto
  • Paris Saint-Germain vs Napoli

Matchday 3 – Injuries/Suspensions

  • Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax)
  • Frank Ribery (Bayern Munich)
  • Mario Mandzukic (Juventus)
  • Sami Khedira (Juventus)
  • Radja Nainggolan (Roma)
  • Kyle Walker (Manchester City) – Traveled and trained with team
  • Alexis Sanchez (Manchester United)
  • Nabil Fekir (Lyon)
  • Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid)
  • Aleksandar Kolarov (Roma)
  • Taison (Shakhtar)
  • Marlos (Shakhtar)
  • Denis Cheryshev (Valencia)
  • Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund)
  • Jose Maria Gimenez (Atletico Madrid)
  • Radamel Falcao (Monaco AC)
  • Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
  • Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona)
  • Dele Alli (Tottenham)
  • Danny Rose (Tottenham)
  • Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
  • Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan)
  • Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan)
  • Redja Nainggolan (Inter Milan)
  • Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
  • Naby Keita (Liverpool)
  • Vincent Aboubakar (Porto)
  • Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray)

Matchday 3 – Players to Watch

Robert Lewandowski (€11.0m)

Bayern Munich’s main man, Lewandowski remains to be the safest and worthiest pick from the Bavarian attack line. €11.0m is a lot to forgo on a player from a relatively out of form Bayern Munich team. Nevertheless we all know on his day Lewandowski can easily outscore any player in the world. His recent form has been encouraging too, bagging a brace and an assist last weekend in the Bundesliga. It should be a matter of when, not if, that he adds to his tally of one Champions League goal this season. Matchday 3 opponents, AEK Athens has been defensively poor and have conceded 5 times in their first 2 games. They have recorded just one attempt on goal (which is the only goal he has scored in the competition). As a result we’d expect a comfortable night for Bayern Munich here.

James Rodriguez (€9.0m)

When on form, Rodriguez is as good as any other number 10 in the world. His sporadic starts this season will understandably cause concern for Champions League fantasy managers. However, befor Bayern Munich start matchday 3 action, their team sheets will be available before deadline. Therefore managers may well reserve one last hour spot for the Colombian if he starts. Having notched up a goal last weekend, he may well start at Athens.

Matt Hummels (€6.0m)

Perhaps one of the best scoring defenders in modern football, Hummels is a fantasy prospect in any competition. Having scored the only goal in Bayern’s home draw against Ajax in matchday 2 is testament to that. AEK doesn’t offer a whole lot in attack and consequently he is a likely clean sheet. If he’s in your team already, then he’s a set-and-forget option for the rest of the group stage. As a fresh pick, there’s every reason why managers will pick him despite a slightly spiked price bracket.

Manuel Neuer (€6.0m)

The iconic German international is an auto choice in any fantasy side. His 12% ownership is  surprisingly low but this is likely because of his premium price. He is arguably the best goalkeeper to have in the Champions League fantasy game.

Hakim Ziyech (€7.5m)

Perhaps the unluckiest player so far in the competition to not have recorded any attacking return from the first 2 group games. With 4 shots on target out of total 9, it shows he is never shy to have a go at goal. Furthermore, he is the main creator in the side alongside Dusan Tadic (who unfortunately has been designated as a striker in UCL Fantasy). The “Dutch Player of the Year 2017-18” is a true differential pick being owned by just 2% of Champions League fantasy managers.

Memphis Depay (€8.5m)

The former Manchester United man showed what he is capable of against Man City in matchday 1. At his price, he is an excellent third forward option to invest the extra cash in other departments. Similar to Ziyech he is also picked by just 2% of Champions League fantasy managers. Matchday 3 opponents Hoffenheim offer Lyon’s best fixture on paper.

Cristiano Ronaldo (€12.0m)

No fantasy team can ever overlook him, right ? Well after a nightmare-ish Champions League debut in Juventus colours and a subsequent ban in the next fixture against Young Boys, Ronaldo is back! To add to the intrigue, he’s travelling to former club, Man Utd. The red side of Manchester have had their recent problems well documented. However, they are coming off back to back encouraging results and performances. Even so, Juventus will enter the tie favorites. Ronaldo has been scoring or providing assist in every domestic game since his ban which proves his form isn’t an issue. Man Utd is always a tough fixture on paper but with Ronaldo’s immense quality many Champions League managers will be transferring him in ahead of Matchday 3. The last time he faced Man Utd (then in Real Madrid colors), he scored in both legs of the tie.

Paulo Dybala (€9.0m)

Hat-trick hero in the last Champions League tie against Young Boys makes him a worthy differential punt. The return of Ronaldo will only mean that Juventus play more attacking which should increase Dybala’s chances. Those who don’t want to splash the extra cash on Ronaldo, can definitely find value in the Argentinian.

Paul Pogba (€9.0m)

Pogba is perhaps the only one from the Man Utd team who can be considered ahead of matchday 3. The World Cup winner has been one of Man Utd’s better players this season. Despite a difficult start to the season for Man Utd, has scored in both the Premier League and Champions League. He will likely be integral if Man Utd are to get a result against Juventus.

Gareth Bale (€10.5m)

Bale missed the last Champions League tie at Moscow due to injury but came on as a 46th minute substitute in Madrid’s home defeat to Levante last weekend. He looks poised to start against Plzen in matchday 3. Plzen were destroyed by Roma on matchday 2. Irrespective of Real Madrid’s form, it is reasonable to expect Real Madrid, and Bale, to regain their form in this fixture. He is an excellent option ahead of a perfect double header starting at the Bernabeu.

Sergio Ramos (€6.5m)

The Madrid captain was rested on matchday 2 but will be back this week and is therefore an excellent pick ahead of matchday 3. His aerial goal threat in set-pieces, clean sheet potential and penalty duty makes him worth the price tag and definitely has a lot of value in him in the long run.

Edin Dzeko (€10.0m)

If somebody can come close to Ronaldo and Messi in terms of Champions League goalscoring in recent years, it’s undoubtedly Edin Dzeko. The former Manchester City man has been in prolific form for Roma since last season when he scored 8 goals in the competition. He has started this Champions League campaign in similar fashion. He came close to scoring many times in the group opener against Real Madrid. He followed that effort with a fantastic hat-trick against Plzen on matchday 2. He has had 8 shots on target in the competition this season which is only matched by Neymar. The Messi injury may well spark a big rise to the ownership percentage of the mercurial Bosnian.

Cengiz Under (€7.0m)

The young Turk has been a revelation at Roma last season and this season he’s upping his game whenever given a chance. His 14 point haul on matchday 2 shows the potential he has. He is picked by only 4% of Champions League managers ahead of matchday 3 and therefore offers differential value.

Robin Olsen (€4.0m)

A gift to the fantasy managers at the cheapest price possible, Olsen is perhaps the biggest must have in fantasy squads based on price. After having a brilliant World Cup, the tall custodian has carried over the form to his new club and has established himself as one of the best shot-stoppers this season. His 9 saves against Madrid in matchday 1 was nothing short of spectacular. With back to back games against CSKA Moscow he is expected to add to his points haul.

Junior Moraes (€6.0m)

With Marlos and Taison out for the home fixture against the Premier League champions, much of the scoring responsibilities will fall on the in-form Moraes. His brace in matchday 2 came on the back of an excellent start to the domestic season. The Man City defence has looked shaky in the competition so far and has conceded 3 goals already . Shakhtar came out as winners in this fixture last season and to repeat that they will need Moraes to fire more than anyone. At excellent cut price, Moraes is an ideal 3rd forward in any fantasy team lending balance.

Sergio Aguero (€10.5m)

Man City has had an odd start to life in the Champions League. They needed a late goal to secure a win against Hoffenheim last time out. They will need to start putting results together if they are to qualify from a group that they were expected to do so comfortably. Aguero scored on matchday 2 and has been in good scoring form this season. If you are looking a lesser owned quality attacker as a differential, then it’s hard to look beyond him for matchday 3. Moreover, he seems a certain starter after playing limited minutes in the Premier League.

Raheem Sterling (€9.5m)

Sterling has started this season from where he finished last season, in impervious form. Last season’s free-scoring winger has been doing that this season too both for club and his national team. Sterling was left out the Man City team that beat Burnley easily the weekend. This strongly suggests he will be starting against against Shakhtar in matchday 3.

Benjamin Mendy (€6.0m)

After missing out on the opening two Champions League ties, Mendy could start in matchday 3. In terms of a fantasy asset when Mendy starts he is must have. However, if he starts is a serious question under Guardiola. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager seems to have a reluctance of starting Mendy and Kyle Walker together.

Harry Kane (€11.0m)

The Engand captain may not be in his prolific goal scoring form this season, but it’s hard to look past him against a lackluster PSV side who have conceded 6 goals in their 2 Champions League games. It’s true that Eriksen and Ali’s injury don’t help the Tottenham cause. However, Christian Eriksen could make his return in matchday 3. Kane has already scored 5 goals in the Premier League this season, alongside one spectacular goal against Barcelona in the Champions League. His returns should only increase with the returns of Eriksen and Ali in future fixtures.

Kieran Trippier (€5.5m)

Trippier is perhaps having the best year in his football career and has been phenomenal for both club and country. He has looked sharper at the back contributing in some challenging clean sheets for his club. This is on top of being instrumental in the Tottenham attack. He is a consistent provider of dangerous crosses (both from open play and set pieces). In addition to this he has also established himself as a legitimate goal threat from direct free kicks. With so much to offer, Trippier is a set-and-forget fantasy option and for those not owning him. Future fixtures against Barcelona and Inter Milan may offer some deterrence however.

Philippe Coutinho (€8.5m)

The Brazil international is the main creator in Barcelona attacking force due to Messi’s injury. He is also expected to play in the more advanced position as the left striker which should theoretically only increase his returns. Currently he is in excellent form with a goal and an assist in the last Champions League game against Spurs. He is the go-to man in the Barcelona attack for matchday 3. His price of tag of a relatively cheap €8.5m is also an attractive bonus.

Luis Suarez (€10.5m)

Suarez was perhaps a little unlucky not to be involved in the attacking points against Tottenham. The absence of Lionel Messi probably doesn’t help the Uruguayan’s attacking cause but does add a certain amount of reliance on him. He may be used as a direct transfer replacement for the injured Messi.

Jordi Alba (€6.5m)

A hat-trick of assists is as impressive as it is rare. That’s what Jordi Alba achieved against Tottenham in matchday 2. He is priced in the same bracket as premium defenders such as Sergio Ramos and Marcelo. Even so he is still picked by 14% of Champions League managers ahead of matchday 3.

Marco Reus (€9.0m)

The talismanic German in the Dortmund side returned 13 points in matchday 2 and is in excellent goal scoring form in Bundesliga scoring 5 goals already. He is potentially fixture proof and that could justify his selection in MD3 against the tight Atletico Madrid defense.

Antoine Griezmann (€10.5m)

Perhaps the only Atletico asset who makes an automatic choice for himself in any fantasy team. Fixture-proof and orchestrating/part of everything in Atletico team, Griezmann is a must have. The World Cup winner is the epitome of consistency which is evidenced by his frequent returns in both La Liga and the Champions League.

Mohamed Salah (€11.0m)

With Sadio Mane likely to miss out, matchday 3 may be the week Salah finally reaches the incredible level he achieved last season. To own or not to own Salah has been the thought that has troubled every fantasy manager. This applies to both Fantasy Premier League and fantasy Champions League. Against one of the weaker Champions League teams, Red Star Belgrade, he is a worthwhile pick.

James Milner (€5.5m)

James Milner probably has the highest value in the mid-priced ranged midfielders. He is on set-pieces including penalties and an excellent assist threat even in open play. At £5.5m he is the cheapest option in the Liverpool attack. The double header against Red Star Belgrade only adds to his appeal. With Naby Keita injured, his starting place becomes even more likely.

Neymar (€11.0m)

Neymar continually divides opinion but he put together a masterclass against the aforementioned Red Star Belgrade in matchday 2. The Brazilian will be a threat against whoever he plays. However, two fixtures against Napoli and then Liverpool might provide Champions League managers to look past him for the present.

Kylian Mbappe (€10.0m)

The 19 year old World Cup winner offers similar value to Neymar. Both are direct, incredibly talented and hungry for goals. There isn’t a lot between them in terms of a Champions League fantasy pick, except that Neymar is on free kicks and appears to be first choice penalty taker.

Edinson Cavani (€11.0m)

Completing the PSG attack trio, the Uruguayan is built in a different mold to the flair based Neymar and Mbappe. 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 shots on target and chances to be on penalty if Neymar is off field makes him a viable target. In all honesty it is an extremely difficult task to predict who of the PSG front three will take the bulk of the points in any Champions League game.

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