It will have been more than two months of waiting for the return of UCL Fantasy when the Champions League last 16 begins on Tuesday, 15th February.
UCL Fantasy MD7 ushers in some important changes for managers to take note of.
For specific player selections, check out our best UCL Fantasy team to pick for MD7.
More UCL Fantasy Captains
Firstly, unlike the Champions League group stage, MD7 will be spread across four separate days. This means there will be three opportunities to make substitutions but more significantly you could have choose up to four captains.
Consequently, you should manage your team so you have a viable captain across each of these days.
Four Players Instead of Three in the UCL Last 16
Additionally, the numbers of players you can select has increased to four, from three. This adds another element to the fantasy game and many will be tempted to bolster their squad with strong favourites in Bayern Munich and Man City.
However, this could spread your points thin. After all, no more than two players can get points from any single goal.
Furthermore, with the introduction of the UEFA Player of the Match three point bonus, having four players from any one side means you could lessen your chances of picking this up across the 8 last 16 fixtures.
Last 16 Fixtures to Target
There is a mouth-watering selection of Champions League last 16 fixtures, which are as follows:
Tuesday 15th February
- PSG vs Real Madrid
- Sporting vs Man City
Wednesday 15th February
- Salzburg vs Bayern Munich
- Inter Milan vs Liverpool
Tuesday 22nd February
- Chelsea vs Lille
- Villarreal vs Juventus
Wednesday 23rd February
- Atletico Madrid vs Man Utd
- Benfica vs Ajax
Man City and Bayern the way to go
According to the odds it is Man City and Bayern Munich which have the best chance of qualifying through to the Champions League quarter finals. To see exactly what chance each team has of qualifying, keeping a clean sheet and player goalscorer odds/chances of starting, you can check out our UCL Fantasy Cheat Sheet.
This indicates that their players will invariably be the best to select. On top of this though, you shouldn’t need to transfer them out although you do get 5 transfers ahead of the quarters.
Both Man City and Bayern have been averaging over three goals a game during the group stage. Therefore their attacking options are essential.
Robert Lewandowski will be picked by the majority of teams whereas there’s more choice among Man City’s attack. It would take a brave manager to ignore Lewandowski but should he blank then that alone would give you an advantage over the rest of the field.
Leroy Sane finished the group stages as the top UCL fantasy points scorer. He was undoubtedly over-performing but many will fancy him to continue producing the goods in the last 16.
Ajax attack and Chelsea defence
Elsewhere, Ajax and Chelsea are heavily favoured over their respective opponents, Benfica and Lille.
Ajax scored the second most goals in the group stages, behind Bayern. Sebastien Haller scored 10 of their 20 goals. At a relatively cheap €9.3m he will be another highly picked player.
Chelsea meanwhile are more appealing from a defensive perspective. Four of their top 5 UCL Fantasy point scorers are defenders, with the exception being Jorginho.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that Chelsea defence is the way to go which is indicated by the fact they are the second most likely to keep a clean sheet (49%) in UCL MD7. Man City are favourites at 50%.
While Romelu Lukaku will be tempting to many, who Thomas Tuchel will select in attack is harder to predict than most teams. That’s not to say Lukaku couldn’t haul across both legs against Lille.
Good entertainment but not so good for UCL Fantasy
The unquestionable glamour match up is PSG vs Real Madrid.
However, with both sides being so closely matched and their players being on the expensive side, outside of one or two picks it may be best to avoid both PSG and Real Madrid assets.
All of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr are viable UCL Fantasy picks but from a fixture perspective there’s a lot of risk attached to them.
Atletico Madrid Man Utd is another closely matched tie. Neither side are in the best of form at the moment which is another reason to be pensive on their players.
Elsewhere, Juventus are understandably favourites to qualify against Villarreal. Much like Atletico Man Utd, the clean sheet odds suggest defenders are the best choice if you are to attack either of these fixtures.
The Salah Show
Liverpool have been given a 77% chance of reaching the Champions League quarter finals, despite Inter’s excellent domestic form. This is testament to how strong they have been looking recently.
Liverpool picked up 6 wins from 6 in the group stage. Interestingly though, only one of their players feature in the top 80 UCL Fantasy point scorers – Mohamed Salah.
Alongside Lewandowksi and Haller, Salah will be picked by most UCL Fantasy managers. The likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mane may not have got as many points as expected so far, but they are certainly solid options in MD7.