Fanteam Champions League Knockout Freeze 100K – FISO’s Team 2

As expected, with the Champions League knockout phase finally kicking off coming Tuesday, Fanteam has created another big-money tournament called the Champions League Knockout Freeze 100K. Yes, in case you were wondering, that “100K” refers to the total prize pool for this one, with the number one player taking home a whopping €25,000 at the end of this year’s Champions League season. We will briefly go over some of the game’s key characteristics before picking our 15-man squad. Currently there are only less than 600 teams entered (with a maximum 7,500 allowed).

First of all, this tournament is called a “Freeze”, because you will not be able to change anything about your team, once the deadline (set at 20h00 on Tuesday, February 18th) has passed. That means no more transfers, no more captain changes, no more changes to your bench, nothing. Each team consists of 15 players from the 16 teams still active in the Champions League, 11 of which are starters while the remaining 4 players form your bench. Like in FPL, the order of your bench matters when one or more of your players don’t start. Do keep this in mind, because in an ideal scenario, you are selecting players for 7 games (Round of 16 to the Final), spread over a few months time and it’s likely some of your players won’t start every game.

So, in that sense, it’s similar to the FPL approach, but without the possibility of interventions. As far as comparisons to Fanteam’s Weekly Monster go, it is very important to note that neither the Stacking Penalty (when points are deducted from clean sheet returns if you own more than one player from the team in question) nor the Safety Net (which automatically changes a player of yours that doesn’t start for the next-cheapest player in the same position bracket of the same team) are active. Here is a summary of the tournament rules:

As part of the preparation for the Champions League Knockout Freeze 100K, we will be publishing two pieces with recommended picks for a 15-man squad of which this article is the second. For the first piece, we decided to take the odds* of qualifying for the next round of each team as a foundation for our team selection. After all, you want to have as many players that stay in the tournament as long as possible. For this second piece, we will be taking the odds into account as well, but we will be leaning more towards our own predictions and aiming at including more differential picks. To give an example: for the Real Madrid-Manchester City game, the bookies give odds of 17/10 and 5/9, respectively, but in our opinion, in current form, Real Madrid might actually be the slight favourite here. This type of perceptional differences will be reflected in the differences between this article’s team selection and the one elaborated on in the previous article.

*We have used the compounded odds for this market provided by oddschecker.com.

Current odds to qualify for the quarter finals

Team Odds to qualify   Team Odds to qualify
Atletico Madrid 28/11   Liverpool 1/3
Dortmund 14/5   PSG 2/5
Atalanta 11/13   Valencia 21/20
Spurs 21/20   RB Leipzig 5/6
Chelsea 16/5   Bayern 2/7
Napoli 38/11   Barcelona 2/7
Lyon 57/10   Juventus 03/19
Real Madrid 17/10   Manchester City 05/09

This means that the 5 teams most likely to qualify for the quarter finals are, from most to least likely: Juventus, Bayern, Barcelona, Liverpool and PSG. These are relatively closely followed by Manchester City, RB Leipzig and Atalanta. In comparison to our first article for the Fanteam Champions League Freeze, our second selection features 6 repeated picks: goalkeeper Ospina, midfielders Pjanic, Henderson, and Busquets, and forwards Messi and Ronaldo. Much of the team focus has remained the same (i.e. picks from Liverpool, Juventus, Bayern and Barça), but we have also included 2 Real Madrid picks as we feel they could end up eliminating Man City, plus a couple of real differentials that help us cover a potential unexpected Round of 16 upset.

FORWARDS

As we did for our first article, we are again starting this piece with our forward picks, due to the simple reason that just over 32% of our total budget was spent on filling the three forward slots. Two of these picks were no-brainers in our opinion, as Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo  have been so dominant in the Champions League over the past decade or so that it sounds like madness to not include them in this or any CL Freeze team selection. Our third forward pick is Real Madrid number nine Karim Benzema, whose replaces Lewandowski in comparison to our first selection and frees up an additional 3.5m in the process. Seeing as we already covered some of our main reasons for picking Messi and Ronaldo in our first Champions League Freeze article, based on a few irrefutable stats regarding the Champions League and its knockout stages in particular, we will give you another opportunity here to let them sink in.

Both Messi and Ronaldo have been relatively quiet during this campaign’s group stages with two goals a piece, but that doesn’t necessarily say much. They are two of the best, if not the very best, players world football has ever seen and the knockout stages of the Champions League are what they live for. In the history of the Champions League, for example, they occupy positions 1 and 2 when it comes to goals scored in the Round of 16 (Messi with 26 goals and Ronaldo with 23). What’s more, when looking at the most goals scored in the CL knockout stages overall in history, Ronaldo is first (65 goals in 126 games) and Messi is second (41 goals in 112 games). Benzema is actually eight, with 15 goals from 47 games. As a matter of fact, these three living legends take up three of the five spots in the all-time list of UEFA Champions League goalscorers (Ronaldo first with 128 goals, Messi second with 114 goals and Benzema fourth with 64 goals).

As far as Benzema goes, his start to this season’s Champions League campaign has been decent with 4 goals and 2 assists from 5 group stage games in which he played 90 minutes and one game, the final one, in which he featured just 13 minutes. The French striker is manager Zinedine Zidane´s absolute preferred option up front and any new success in the CL will see plenty of involvement from his side. It wasn’t easy to drop Lewandowski for him, especially not when you consider Benz is playing City and Lewa is playing Chelsea, but it did free up plenty of funds to distribute elsewhere in the team. Plus, we have a feeling that, in part due to the bookies marking City as favourites to win this tie, Benzema might end up with a bit of a differential status in Fanteam’s CL Freeze tournament.

Cristiano Ronaldo is our captain and Lionel Messi our vice-captain.

MIDFIELDERS

The big difference between our midfield in this article and the midfield we selected for our first Champions League Freeze 100K tournament is the presence of a big name and premium asset in this one, namely Liverpool’s Mo Salah. Like Benzema, he sits on 4 goals and 2 assists from 6 group stage game, the main difference being that the Egyptian only missed a single minute of the group games. That’s just one goal short of his total production last season, when the Reds took home club football’s most prestigious prize for the sixth time in their history. The Round of 16 encounter with Atletico is going to be a very tough one as manager Diego Simeone has once again moulded his team into one of the most solid defensive units in the top-5 European competitions. With 15 goals conceded in 23 La Liga games, they are right behind arch rivals Real Madrid (14 in 23) and Premier League leaders Liverpool (15 in 25). We believe the Reds will overcome this hurdle though, especially considering their 22-point domestic lead, and we can only see Salah’s role in the Champions League grow from here.

Our second midfield asset is a repeat from our previous, bookmaker odds-based article, so we will repeat our motivation behind this pick. Miralem Pjanic, has missed just 3 minutes of Champions League group stage football for Juventus and averages 5.2 points on Fanteam this season. He has not scored or assisted yet in Europe this season, but the double encounter with Lyon might be a good chance for him to get off the mark. The Bosnian technician is a crucial key in coach Maurizio Sarri’s midfield, he is on plenty of set-pieces, and he will be instrumental in their push for European glory this season.

The second of our three repeated picks in midfield is Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who has been in outstanding form domestically of late. Over the past three games (not counting this weekend’s encounter with Norwich), the Englishman scored 2 goals, provided 2 assists, helped the Reds get 2 clean sheets, and brought the few FPL managers who own him an impressive 29 points. Like with his team mate Salah, Liverpool currently being 22 points ahead of number two Manchester City in the Premier League has us thinking that Henderson will be starting and completing every single Champions League game until they either get eliminated or consolidate their status as Champions League winners a second year in a row.

As our fourth midfielder, we have gone with Bayern youngster Leon Goretzka. The German attacking midfielder missed out on the first half of the group stage this season due to an ankle injury and he was left out of the starting eleven for Bayern’s last group game (when they had already qualified for the Round of 16). That’s why, when solely looking at his stats this campaign, he might not grab your attention. Goretzka is a part of Bayern coach Hansi Flick’s starting eleven though, and in the two games that he did play during the CL group stage, he scored a goal and was part of 2 clean sheets. In Fanteam, this plus his three minutes in the final group game has resulted in 15 points, which is not bad at all.

Finally, our fifth midfielder is Barça veteran Sergio Busquets, and for the same reasons as those justifying his selection in our previous article. The combination of being a regular starter for one of the favourites in not just this Round of 16 tie, but in the tournament overall, and his absolute bargain price tag makes him the ultimate budget enabler in this Champions League Freeze tournament. True, his performances in the Champions League have not been phenomenal so far this season, with an average of 70 minutes played and just 1.8 points recorded on Fanteam over this campaign’s six group stage games, but as a fifth midfielder on our bench, we could do much worse.

DEFENDERS

In defence, we have gone for a similar structure as in our first article, namely two premium picks, one player from the category just below, and two budget/differential picks.

Starting with the premiums, we have gone with Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson and Bayern left-back Benjamin Pavard, who are facing Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, respectively. The former is a nailed-on starter for Jurgen Klopp, but he did miss playing minutes in games 3 and 4 of the group stage as he was rested a few times in that period. He played 63 minutes and 16 minutes in those games, respectively, but he completed the 90 minutes in the other four group games. Despite missing out on some playing time, Robertson still sits on an average of 3.5 points per game in Fanteam, in part due to 1 goal and 2 clean sheets. Pavard, on the other hand, could not be more nailed-on as part of a starting eleven, having missed not a single minute of Champions League action so far this season. Not only did he help his team bring home 3 clean sheets from 6 games, but he also contributed offensively with 2 assists over that run of games. Up next is Chelsea, and even though we don’t necessarily expect clean sheets for the Frenchman here, we do feel confident that Bayern will qualify. If Pavard can take advantage of Chelsea’s occasional shaky defending, all the better.

Should the Blues surprise and eliminate Bayern instead, Chelsea budget defender Kurt Zouma remains in our team for at least another round of the knockout stages. The French central defender currently finds himself just outside the top-10 highest-scoring defender in Fanteam’s Champions League tournament, which is in big part thanks to his 2 clean sheets and 2 goals. What increases his appeal from a CL Freeze point of view is that he has so far missed just 17 minutes of the 2019-2020 Champions League campaign, in the first group game against Valencia. The harsh reality is that in our current set-up, either Zouma or Pavard will be out of the Champions League after the Round of 16, but the good thing is that one of them will for sure be in quarter finals. We felt this is a calculated risk, considering the fact that we have 5 defenders to fill 3 slots.

In our team, Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal is just in front of Zouma in the picking order though, forming our starting defensive line-up together with Robertson and Pavard. The Spanish defender is Zinedine Zidane’s preferred (and in reality possibly only real) option at right-back and we expect him to start every game in Europe. From a defensive point of view, it’s unlikely that Carvajal will be getting much joy from the Round of 16 encounter with Manchester City, but he is part of our strategy involving the scenario in which Real eliminate City from European football in the coming weeks. During the group stage, he completed the 90 minutes in all but the last game, for which he was rested, and he currently boasts a Fanteam points average of just under 4 points per game. The Spaniard was part of 2 clean sheets and he also provided an assist in the 6-0 home victory over Galatasaray.

Finally, another budget pick and with this one, we wanted to go differential for real. In our opinion, the Spurs versus Leipzig game is probably one of the most difficult to predict in this Round of 16. The combination of Spurs’ so-so form and equal playing style, and Leipzig’s status as serious challenger for the Bundesliga title this year (they are actually leaders at this moment) make this a very interesting game. We can see more than a few scenarios in which the Red Bull team overwhelms Spurs with their energetic, offensive play and probably not many CL Freeze player will be rooting for the Germans to pass this round. This is why Leipzig right-back Lukas Klostermann makes our bench. The young German defender is a mainstay in manager Julian Nagelsmann starting eleven, which is why he has not missed a single minute of 5 out of 6 group games this season. On top of that, he also has a clean sheet and an assist to his name, giving him an average of 3 points per game on Fanteam.

GOALKEEPERS

Finally, our goalkeepers. Due to extreme budget restrictions in this Champions League Freeze tournament, we decided to go with one nailed-on starter, which meant a relatively expensive pick, and one budget-enabling bench fodder kind of pick. Following this approach, we came up with a combination of Juventus shot stopper Wojciech Szczesny and Napoli’s reserve goalie, David Ospina. In our first article, we took a similar approach and ended up with Alisson and Ospina.

On paper, Juventus has one of the easier match-ups in this Round of 16 with a double encounter against French side Olympique Lyon. In the group stages, only PSG conceded less goals than Juventus (2 vs. 4) and only three teams matched Juve’s defensive performance (Man City, Barcelona and Napoli). Domestically, where Szczesny is rested in favour of living legend Gianluigi Buffon from time to time, only Inter and Lazio have so far conceded less than Juve’s 23 goals in 23 games. The Polish goalie played the full 90 minutes in all but one group game (the sixth and last game) and over that run, he recorded a more than decent 28 points on Fanteam, courtesy of 2 clean sheets, 14 saves and 4 impact points. If he can keep up his current average of 5.6 points per game until very late in the tournament, we’ll be more than happy.

Our second goalkeeper Ospina is not expected to play a single minute in this Champions League Freeze 100k tournament. He was the cheapest available keeper and allowed us to save another million or so to spend elsewhere in our team.

This team has been entered into the 25 euro FanTeam Champions League Freeze 100k and we hope to report back that we’ve shared in the 100,000 euros prize pool. You can also follow discussions about FanTeam games on FISO’s FanTeam Forum. FISO members could win free ‘Weekly Monster’ entries (worth 20 euros) via the FISO FanTeam forum. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks. Read all about a fiso member who won 30,000 euros on FanTeam from just a 2 euro entry fee. FanTeam have also just launched a 500,000 euro Fantasy Premier League game.

Fanteam Champions League Knockout Freeze 100K – FISO’s Team 1

As expected, with the Champions League knockout phase finally kicking off coming Tuesday, Fanteam has created another big-money tournament called the Champions League Knockout Freeze 100K. Yes, in case you were wondering, that “100K” refers to the total prize pool for this one, with the number one player taking home a whopping €25,000 at the end of this year’s Champions League season. We will briefly go over some of the game’s key characteristics before picking our 15-man squad.

First of all, this tournament is called a “Freeze”, because you will not be able to change anything about your team, once the deadline (set at 20h00 on Tuesday, February 18th) has passed. That means no more transfers, no more captain changes, no more changes to your bench, nothing. Each team consists of 15 players from the 16 teams still active in the Champions League, 11 of which are starters while the remaining 4 players form your bench. Like in FPL, the order of your bench matters when one or more of your players don’t start. Do keep this in mind, because in an ideal scenario, you are selecting players for 7 games (Round of 16 to the Final), spread over a few months time and it’s likely some of your players won’t start every game.

So, in that sense, it’s similar to the FPL approach, but without the possibility of interventions. As far as comparisons to Fanteam’s Weekly Monster go, it is very important to note that neither the Stacking Penalty (when points are deducted from clean sheet returns if you own more than one player from the team in question) nor the Safety Net (which automatically changes a player of yours that doesn’t start for the next-cheapest player in the same position bracket of the same team) are active. Here is a summary of the tournament rules:

As part of the preparation for the Champions League Knockout Freeze 100K, we will be publishing two pieces with recommended picks for a 15-man squad of which this article is the first and here is a link to the 2nd. For this piece, we have decided to take the odds* of qualifying for the next round of each team as a foundation for our team selection. After all, you want to have as many players that stay in the tournament as long as possible. For the second piece, we will be taking the odds into account as well, but we will be leaning more towards our own predictions and aiming at including more differential picks. To give an example: for the Real Madrid-Manchester City game, the bookies give odds of 17/10 and 5/9, respectively, but in our opinion, in current form, Real Madrid might actually be the slight favourite here. This type of perceptional differences will be reflected in the differences between this article’s team selection and the one for the next article.

*We have used the compounded odds for this market provided by oddschecker.com.

Current odds to qualify for the quarter finals

Team Odds to qualify   Team Odds to qualify
Atletico Madrid 28/11   Liverpool 1/3
Dortmund 14/5   PSG 2/5
Atalanta 11/13   Valencia 21/20
Spurs 21/20   RB Leipzig 5/6
Chelsea 16/5   Bayern 2/7
Napoli 38/11   Barcelona 2/7
Lyon 57/10   Juventus 03/19
Real Madrid 17/10   Manchester City 05/09

This means that the 5 teams most likely to qualify for the quarter finals are, from most to least likely, Juventus, Bayern, Barcelona, Liverpool and PSG. Staying true to our chosen approach for our first team selection for the Champions League Freeze, we managed to squeeze in 12 players from these teams. Seeing as the favourites for qualification generally also boost the most expensive players, we have based our choices largely on two parameters, namely that the player needs to be a sure starter on a team that is heavy favourite to go through. In combination with our choice to go all-in on forwards, this approach can give you a more than decent 11, 12 players, but a relatively more fodder-like selection on the bench.

FORWARDS

We usually start with our goalkeeper pick and work our way up the pitch, so to say, but seeing as just under 35% of our total 108m budget was spent on this line, we are starting with it this time. By picking Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo and Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski, we have gone with proven track records, to put it mildly. As a matter of fact, these three living legends take up three of the five spots in the all-time list of UEFA Champions League goalscorers (Ronaldo first with 128 goals, Messi second with 114 goals and Lewandowski fifth with 63 goals).

As far as this Champions League season goes, Lewandowski is top of the list with 10 goals in 6 games. Just like last year, he has the most goals behind his name after the tournament’s group stage. His next opponent is Chelsea, who have been generally good this season, but lacking defensive solidity from time to time. To give you an idea of their current situation: the Blues are placed fourth in the Premier League, but they have already conceded 34 goals in 25 games. Only one team in the top half of the table has conceded more so far (Everton, 38 goals).

Both Messi and Ronaldo have been relatively quiet during this campaign’s group stages with two goals a piece, but basically, that doesn’t necessarily say much. They are two of the best, if not the very best, players world football has ever seen and the knockout stages of the Champions League are what they live for. In the history of the Champions League, for example, they occupy positions 1 and 2 when it comes to goals scored in the Round of 16 (Messi with 26 goals and Ronaldo with 23). What’s more, when looking at the most goals scored in the CL knockout stages overall in history, Ronaldo is first (65 goals in 126 games) and Messi is second (41 goals in 112 games). Lewandowski is actually fourth, with 19 goals in 53 games.

What we are trying to say is that this is the type of player teams look to in the biggest games, because they know how to deliver and usually do so. With Messi facing Napoli, Ronaldo facing Lyon and Lewa facing Chelsea, we are not only hoping that they will return big for our team during the Round of 16, but until (much) later in the tournament as well.

Cristiano Ronaldo is our captain and Lewandowski our vice-captain.

DEFENDERS

It might feel a bit strange to start with our forwards and then continue with our defensive picks, but there is (some) logic to the madness. Picking Messi, Ronaldo and Lewandowski put some serious pressure on our budget, as it has left us with 70.5m to bring in 12 more players, with as many of those picks as possible coming from the previously mentioned bookies’ favourites. That’s an average of 5.8m  budget per pick, which is not a lot.

Considering the relatively lower prices of defenders, we figured it would be necessary to pick a few defenders first, before moving on the midfield and the goalkeepers. We were planning to play with a 3-men defence, consisting of 2 premium picks, 2 from the category just below, and 1 cheap, but starting defender on the bench.

As premiums, we have gone with Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Bayern’s Joshua Kimmich, who are facing Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, respectively. The former is the reigning European champion’s captain and as nailed-on as they come, while the latter is versatile nailed-on starter who generally plays right-back, but is also posted on the midfield at times. In addition to that, he gets some set-piece duties as well. Atletico Madrid are struggling more than a bit in front of goal, which is underlined by the fact that only seven teams in the entire Spanish Primera Division have scored less than their 25 goals so far this season. Bayern opponent Chelsea finds the net a lot easier, but they also leave the back a lot more open and we expect Bayern to eliminate Lampard’s men over two games. Both Van Dijk and Kimmich should bring in some points this round and qualify for the quarter finals as well.

We were pleasantly surprised about Leonardo Bonucci‘s price tag, which placed him in the category just under the premium picks. In the long-term absence of Chiellini, the Italian veteran leads the Old Lady’s defensive line, which assures him of starts and usually 90 minutes of playing time. He was only left out of one group stage game, the last one against Leverkusen when Juve had already qualified for the knockout stages, and he played 90 minutes in the other five games. In those games, he recorded 2 clean sheets and received 1 yellow card, bringing him to 20 points on Fanteam and an average of 4 points per game played. Juventus are facing Lyon in the Round of 16 and we are hoping for another shut-out (or two!) for the reigning Italian champions.

Our final two defensive picks are PSG’s Marquinhos, who also plays in midfield at times, and our budget pick, Napoli defender Manolas. The former only missed 20 minutes of the group stage this season as he was taken off after 70 minutes in the first group game, while the latter missed 2 group games due to fitness issues, but played the full 90 minutes in the other 4 games. In other words, they are both nailed-on starters for their teams. Both are facing teams, Dortmund and Barcelona respectively, that on a good day can score a bunch of goals against any team in Europe, but the bookmakers feel PSG are favourites against Dortmund. They don’t in the case of Manolas and Napoli versus Barcelona, but when he was playing for AS Roma during the 2017/2018 season, it was the Greek’s header that sealed a historic comeback for the Italians and a dramatic exit for the Catalans. Who knows, maybe Napoli surprises the bookies and Manolas scores another winner. In any case, he is our fifth defender.

MIDFIELDERS

As a result of our approach so far, we needed to make some important concessions in midfield in order to make the budget fit. This has given us a very decent lineup consisting of starting eleven players from the favourites to qualify for the quarter finals, but not all of them are directly involved in their teams’ goals on a regular basis. Most of them are playmaking central midfielders, some of them with set-piece duties.

We’re starting with Miralem Pjanic, who missed just 3 minutes of Champions League group stage football for Juventus and averages 5.2 points on Fanteam this season. He has not scored or assisted yet in Europe this season, but the double encounter with Lyon might be a good chance for him to get off the mark. He is a crucial key in coach Maurizio Sarri’s midfield, he is on plenty of set-pieces, and he will be instrumental in their push for European glory this season.

From FC Barcelona, we have chosen two midfielders who should be assured of a starting spot in the games of the CL knockout stages. In a season full of turmoil for Barcelona at an executive level, to such an extent that the performances on the pitch seem to have suffered at times, new arrival Frenkie de Jong is a regular ray of light. The ex-Ajax man needed little to no time to convince everyone at the club that he is the present and future of their first team, but the question remains when the coach (first Valverde, now Sétien) stops moving him throughout the team and installs him in his preferred central midfield position. He has probably been Barcelona’s best player so far this season, behind Messi of course, and his protagonism in the team will only keep growing. Frenkie is mostly the playmaking midfielder, the man providing the pre-assist, but with the likes of Messi and Griezmann in front of you, he could be directly involved in a goal at any moment. Just check out his recent goal against Real Betis after a combination with Messi.

Our second Barça midfielder is Sergio Busquets, due to the combination of being a starting player at one of the favourites for not just their Round of 16 tie, but for the final victory, and his absolute bargain price tag. True, his performances in the Champions League have not been phenomenal so far this season, with an average of 70 minutes played and just 1.8 points recorded on Fanteam over this campaign’s six group stage games, but as a fifth midfielder on our bench, we could do much worse.

The remaining two spots in our midfield are being occupied by PSG’s Marco Verratti and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson. With the Italian midfielder, we have selected another player who played 90 minutes in all but one group game (the last one, when PSG was already qualified). He has no direct goal involvements to his name so far, but he did record 4 clean sheets and an average of 3.7 points on Fanteam over 6 games. With Henderson then, we have gone for another team captain and one who has been in extraordinary form domestically of late. In FPL, he has scored an incredible 29 points over the past three gameweeks, courtesy of a probably unprecedented 2 goals, 2 assists and 2 clean sheets in three games. With the Reds currently 22 points ahead of number two Man City in the Premier League, we can see Henderson starting and completing every single Champions League game until they either get eliminated or consolidate their status as Champions League winners a second year in a row.

GOALKEEPERS

Finally, our goalkeepers. Due to extreme budget restrictions, we decided to go with one nailed-on starter, which meant an expensive pick, and one budget-enabling bench fodder kind of pick. Following this approach, we came up with a combination of Liverpool’s Alisson and Napoli’s reserve goalie, David Ospina.

The reasoning behind Alisson’s selection is very similar to that of Virgil van Dijk, in the sense that the Reds are facing an Atletico side with very little attacking threat in them. Besides that, he is the unchallenged number one between the posts and in case a situation occurs in this second half of the season in which Jurgen Klopp needs to pick a game to rest the Brazilian, the 22-point lead in the Premier League should lead to that game being a domestic one, not a European one. In other words, the Premier League’s best goalkeeper and one of the best goalkeepers in the world overall should be starting every CL knockout stage game as part of one of the most solid defensive units in European football.

As a result of that certainty (though nothing is ever completely sure in football), our second goalkeeper Ospina is not expected to play a single minute in this Champions League Freeze 100k tournament. He was the cheapest available keeper and allowed us to save another million or so to spend elsewhere in our team.

This team has been entered into the 25 euro FanTeam Champions League Freeze 100k and we hope to report back that we’ve shared in the 100,000 euros prize pool. You can also follow discussions about FanTeam games on FISO’s FanTeam Forum. FISO members could win free ‘Weekly Monster’ entries (worth 20 euros) via the FISO FanTeam forum. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks. Read all about a fiso member who won 30,000 euros on FanTeam from just a 2 euro entry fee. FanTeam have also just launched a 500,000 euro Fantasy Premier League game.

Fanteam Weekly Monster Early Entry Team – GW26 Part 2

FISO are starting a new series of weekly articles on Fanteam, Europe’s biggest daily fantasy football provider (and entering the team that we write about!). This series will focus on Fanteam’s Weekly Monster, a weekly fantasy league based on the weekend Premier League games. Our article will focus on a Early Entry for this weekly tournament which will help you identify game rules, tactics and the most promising players per gameweek so you can win some of that large prize money.

This gameweek round, due to the winter break, is split up into two weekends. As a result, the classic Fanteam Weekly Monster format with a 50,000 euro prize pool based on nine Premier League games was replaced last weekend by the Weekend Big Four 15k and for this weekend by the Weekend Big Five 20k . The concept is identical, but it involves only the five games of GW26 that are being played this weekend and the prize pool sits at 20,000 euros.

Before moving onto our team selection, we want to highlight a couple of Fanteam rules that they apply to their Weekly Monster competition and that represent some of the major differences when comparing the game to the FPL.

Number one is that FanTeam have a rule called the ‘safety net’. The safety net comes into play when a selected player does not start in the Weekly Monster, because the game will then automatically replace this player with the next lowest-priced player from the same position (GK, DEF, MID, FOR) in the same team. By ‘next’ lowest we mean if our player (who doesn’t start) is priced at 7m and two players priced less than him at 6.8m and 6.5m start then our replacement will be the 6.8m player. The automatic replacement is regardless of whether or not your selected player does take to the field later in the game. This rule means people who have entered a team into the Weekly Monster need not worry too much about whether their selected players will start or not, particularly if they know there are cheaper players for that same club in that same position who should start instead.

Number two is that FanTeam also have a ‘stacking penalty’ for the Weekly Monster, which penalises teams that have selected more than one defenders/goalkeeper from the same club. The stacking penalty comes into play when you pick more than one defensive player (defenders or goalkeepers) from a particular club and this club records a clean sheet. The points awarded for this clean sheet will decrease by 1 point for each additional defensive player from the same club that you have selected. The stacking penalty has a maximum of minus 3 points. This rule helps stop multi-entrants from gaining an advantage by submitting block defence teams.

The deadline for this gameweek is set at 12h30 (UK time) on Saturday, February 15th, 2020.

Gameweek 26 Weekend Big Five matches

15/02/20 12:30 Southampton Burnley
15/02/20 17:30 Norwich Liverpool
16/02/20 14:00 Aston Villa Spurs
16/02/20 16:30 Arsenal Newcastle
17/02/20 20:00 Chelsea Manchester United

Our team for the Weekend Big Five 20K in gameweek 26 – part 2

Formation: 2-2-2 |  Budget used: €54.9m (budget 55m)

Goalkeeper

Instead of recommending a goalkeeper here, as we would usually do, we’re using this space instead to elaborate a bit on this week’s Big Five game, starting with why we haven’t selected a goalkeeper this week. In the second weekend of gameweek 26 of Fanteam’s Weekly Monster, called the Weekend Big Five, the number of available matches to pick players from was reduced to five and instead of selecting 11 players, we had to select just 6. We could do so in any formation we wanted (a 0-3-3, for example), there was no limit on the number of picks from a specific team, and there was no possibility to select a goalkeeper this week.

The second part of this gameweek provides us with a bit more variation when it comes to favourable fixtures, with Liverpool visiting Norwich, Southampton hosting Burnley, Arsenal welcoming Newcastle to the Emirates and Spurs going to Villa Park. The clash of the weekend is the Monday night encounter between Chelsea and Man United. On paper, the Southampton home game and the Liverpool away game are probably the most appealing fixtures this weekend, but due to the high prices of Liverpool assets and the relatively heavy price tags of Saints players, it was quite hard to load our team with potentially big-hitters from just those two teams. We have ended up going for three Reds, two Saints and one part differential, part punt, part budget-enabler in a 2-2-2 formation. We will also have a chance to see the starting line-ups for Southampton but it’s only their match v Burnley that fantasy managers can see the starting line-ups for this weekend before the entry deadline. Fingers crossed that neither the Liverpool or Southampton matches are postponed (for more than 48 hours) as the Man City v West Ham match was last weekend which meant the Man City players on our team scored no points.

Defenders

After 9 clean sheets in the last 10 Premier League games, it was kind of hard not to start off our defensive picks for the Weekend Big Five with a Liverpool player. Out of budget considerations, we have gone with Joe Gomez. Coincidence or not, Liverpool’s previously mentioned run of clean sheets started in gameweek 16, when Gomez got his first full 90 minutes since gameweek 1. Contrary to his fellow Reds defenders, the young Englishman has not recorded any attacking return over that period, which explains his lower price in the Big Five this weekend as well, but he did total 58 points in the official Fantasy Premier League game (9 clean sheets, 5 bonus points). In the Big Five this weekend, only Matip and Williams are cheaper defenders than Gomez, which largely removes the safety net for this pick in case he doesn’t start at Carrow Road. That is, unless Matip starts in his place, but we expect Gomez to be in the starting lineup on Sunday.

Our second defender this weekend is Southampton left-back Ryan Bertrand, who is facing Burnley at Saint Mary’s. The Saints have been improving defensively of late, with all of their three clean sheets this season coming in the last 8 games (Chelsea away, Spurs home, Palace away), while only Norwich, Watford, Bournemouth and West Ham have netted fewer times on their travels than Burnley’s 12 goals. In other words, this could turn out to be a low-scoring affair, though with the Premier League you never quite know. As far as Bertrand himself goes, his season has been relatively quiet this season, with 3 clean sheets, a goal and an assist from 25 games to his name so far. He does play on the far left of manager Ralph Hasenhüttl’s five-men defence, which sees him positioned higher up the pitch for large parts of their games. We are hoping that Burnley manager Sean Dyche will have a defensive approach to this game that allows Southampton’s defenders to have possession closer to the Burnley goal, and that Bertrand will benefit from this in terms of returns at both ends of the pitch.

Midfielders

Seeing as we have gone heaviest in attack this weekend, our midfield consists of Jordan Henderson and Manchester United’s Anthony Martial. The former is in great form with 2 goals, 2 assists and 2 clean sheets from his last 3 Premier League games, while the latter is not in great form with just a single goal over his last 4 PL games.

Henderson is not only a sure starter in Jurgen Klopp’s ideal eleven, but the captain of the Reds as well. The England international has been going through something of purple patch lately, as he is not generally known as a fantasy asset that provides regular attacking returns. After 25 games this season, he sits on 3 goals and 4 assists, of which, like we wrote earlier, 2 goals and 2 assists came since gameweek 24. Up next for the Reds is Norwich and no team has conceded more at home than the Canaries 25 goals in 12 games (if we are ignoring the 0-9 result from the Soton-Leicester game in GW10). At the same time, Liverpool has already scored 25 times away from home and 9 of those goals were scored in their last 4 away games. With Leicester, Spurs, Wolves and West Ham the opponents in those games, we are hoping that Norwich won’t be too much of an obstacle to scoring a few more on Sunday.

Then there is Anthony Martial, largely struggling out-of-position striker at a largely struggling Manchester United side. The Frenchman’s price tag in the Weekend Big Five played a big role in this pick, because looks like one of the picks with most (differential) potential after having loading up on Liverpool and Southampton players. There is a bit more to it though, because Chelsea have actually been far from stable in front of their own fans this season.

  TOTAL HOME  (% of total) AWAY
GOALS SCORED 43 16  (37%) 27
GOALS CONCEDED 34 12  (35%) 22
POINTS 41 18  (44%) 23
PL RANKING 4th 10th 3rd

We are not saying that United are favourites here, the Red Devils have their own issues to deal with after all, but we can see them being successful on the counter in this one, despite Rashford’s absence. Martial and co have shown this season that they are more comfortable when the other team dominates possession and seeing as that is what we expect from Chelsea in this game, there might be something in it here for the Frenchman on Monday. After three consecutive blanks, he will be desperate to return to the form he displayed between gameweeks 19 and 22 (4 goals in 4 games).

Forwards

Most of our budget for the Weekend Big Five has been spent on forwards, starting with Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino. As basically every season since arriving from Hoffenheim in June of 2015, the Brazilian attacker is proving a key cog in Jurgen Klopp’s highly successful formation. He has scored 8 goals and provided the same number of assists so far this season, and the first of those returns (an assist in GW1) actually came at Anfield against Sunday’s opponents, Norwich. Apart from the fact that Bobby is as nailed-on a starter as they come in the Premier League, there is another, statistically viable reason for splashing the cash on him this weekend, namely his away record this season: all of his goals and 1 of his assists was recorded away from Anfield. The Canaries boast the Leagues leakiest defence in total (47 goals conceded, joint with Villa) and in home games (25 conceded, joint with West Ham and not counting Southampton’s 0-9 defeat). We figured that the combination of Firmino’s excellent away form and Norwich’ general defensive issues has all of the makings of a big haul. He is also our captain.

In attack, the Liverpool man is joined by Southampton striker Danny Ings, who is having the most prolific campaign of his Premier League career this season. It’s true that he hasn’t recorded an attacking return since gameweek 22, but it should be noted that the three games since then saw him face Wolves at home (completed the 90 minutes), Palace away (played 20 minutes) and Liverpool away (played 69 minutes). Between GW7 and GW22 though, the English forward scored an impressive 13 goals to bring his season tallies to 14 goals and 1 assist. The first game of the Weekend Big Five is Southampton’s encounter with Burnley at Saint Mary’s and we’re hoping that this is the one in which Ings finds his scoring boots once again to go on another goal-scoring run of game-changing proportions. As far as the Clarets go, they are having a decent mid-table season overall, but the 20 goals conceded in just 12 away games will probably be worrying manages Sean Dyche a bit, especially now that his men are preparing to face one of this season’s most lethal strikers. Ings is also our vice-captain this weekend.

This team has been entered into the 20 euro FanTeam Big Five 20k and we hope to report back next week that we’ve shared part of the 15,000 euros prize pool. You can also follow discussions about FanTeam games on FISO’s FanTeam Forum. FISO members could win free ‘Weekly Monster’ entries (worth 20 euros) via the FISO FanTeam forum. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks. Read all about a fiso member who won 30,000 euros on FanTeam from just a 2 euro entry fee. FanTeam have also just launched a 500,000 euro Fantasy Premier League game.

Yes, You Can Go to Jail for Playing Fantasy Sports

Many people across the United States play fantasy sports. It is fun and can add excitement to a sport’s season. On top of that, it can also be a way to make money through sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings, which are the two premier Fantasy Sports websites.

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However, it may be illegal for you to play Fantasy Sports. That might sound weird, but it’s true. If the league that a player participates in has a fee for entry or has prizes given out, it may be an activity that is an illegal one.

The Legality of Fantasy Sports in the USA

The issue of the legality of Fantasy Sports in the US, especially online, is one that is complicated. The basic issue is how the states classify games – are they based on chance or skill?

For Fantasy Sports, there is some skill that is involved, especially for being successful. However, on the other side of the coin, there is also luck involved. So, as you can see, the issue is not one that is cut and dry.

For example, the states of Arizona, Washington, Montana and Louisiana have never offered Fantasy Sports, because all of them have laws that classify any game that has any chance to it as gambling. There are other states where the laws they have are not as clear, and it is up to the online operator if they want to offer their services in that state.

A majority of the operators online are in tune with what market leaders FanDuel and DraftKings do as far as where to offer their services. As of January 2020, those two Fantasy Sports websites block players from Arizona, Alabama, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada and Washington State.

There are now 19 states that have Fantasy Sports being a game that is one involving skill, and there are many others that will likely do the same in the not-to-distant future.

Crossing State Lines

One of the trickier aspects of the legality of Fantasy Sports is the issue of state lines. When you play in a Fantasy Sports league, you are not only dealing with the laws of the state you reside in but all of the other states where members of that league reside as well.

The state line issue brings federal racketeering laws into the equation, and those consequences can be serious.

In terms of the consequences when playing Fantasy Sports illegally, they mainly are due to taxes. Any type of income for a US Citizen, which does include any winnings from playing Fantasy Sports, has to be reported to the IRS, and failure to do so is seen as tax evasion.

In the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, it also states that you have to report winnings even if it is the case that you won them in an illegal manner in terms of the state you reside in. If a Fantasy Sports player reports winnings on the federal level, they are fine, but there are still the state laws to deal with in terms of gambling.

Jail, Really?

While playing Fantasy Sports in some states is illegal, jail time can be a consequence that is highly unlikely. All in all, state authorities do not view playing in fantasy leagues as a high priority and do not go after those that take part in them.

For example, offshore gambling is illegal, yet those who take part in that are rarely, if ever, prosecuted. Still, playing in illegal fantasy leagues is against the law and can be punishable by fines and/or jail time, but, again, those laws are rarely enforced.

The police will not raid your fantasy league night, but it is always a good idea to find out if playing Fantasy Sports is legal in your state.

An Attorney Can Help

If you really want to be on the safe side when playing Fantasy Sports or are looking to set up a fantasy league, a local attorney can help. They can look into the legality of those things in the state you are in and make sure you are playing in a legal manner.

They can also help if you have players that are taking part in the league and reside in another state. On top of the legality of Fantasy Sports and playing in leagues, a local attorney can also help you with any winnings to make sure you are reporting them in the right manner.

So What to Do?

Millions of Americans take part in Fantasy Sports, and it can be very exciting and even profitable to do so. However, you have to be aware that it can be illegal, and there are consequences.

As stated before, enforcement is minimal, but you still want to make sure that you are taking part in a legal venture when playing Fantasy Sports, as it all depends on the laws in your state.

3 of The Best Football Themed Slots

Coronavirus might still be in the air affecting even the wealthiest gambling market in the world. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t sample and enjoy some sports-themed slots. The best part, you can play them from the comfort of your home.

Slots machines come in different themes and styles to suit the varied tastes of its players. Sports lovers also get a slice of the pie.  They can now expand their comfort zones from the field and the screen to the casino. Both the sports and casino worlds are filled with thrill and entertainment. So combining these two to create sports-themed slots machines is one of the best decisions ever made.

If you can’t get enough of playing or watching football, you can supplement the feeling by spinning the reels on some of the best football-themed slots available. The licensed ones come with pictures of the world’s best players, while the unlicensed slots only have flags and shirts. Whichever you prefer, you are assured of massive entertainment.

To get you started, here is a list of the best football-themed slots and their features:

Football Star

Football star is an exciting slot from Microgaming. It features excellent graphics and interesting gameplay. It was launched in 2014 as a way of building anticipation for the Brazil 2014 World Cup and you can read a complete review at Inside Casino, one of our favourite portals the Football Star has three rows and four reels. It comes with 243 ways to win and an RTP of 96.42%. The betting range is between £0.50 and £250  while the jackpot stands at 250x. The slot comes with bonus features that are activated when you hit three or more football scatters. These could range from 15 to 25 free spins, depending on the number of scatters that you will hit.

Some of the exciting features of this game include a background that resembles a real football stadium. You will also see the look-alikes of five of the world’s renowned football players. So if you want to reminisce about the 2014 World Cup or simply want to service your love for the game, give Football Star a try. Who knows, you could win the jackpot and become the next millionaire in town.

Champions Cup

Software providers are notorious for launching games just before major events. Champions Cup entered the market just before the UEFA European Championship in 2016. It was later upgraded in 2018 just before the World Cup.

Designed by one of the leading software developers in the betting industry, NetEnt, Champions Cup is a football-themed slot that comes with five reels, three rows, and 20 paylines. It has an RTP of 96.82%, which is favorable. The betting amount ranges from 20p to €100.

This slot game comes with free spins, bonus games, penalty shoot outs, and special features. The theme is a bit cheesy, but if you play well, you can win up to 500 times your stake.

Champion’s Goal

This is one of those slots machines built to resemble the atmosphere of a real football stadium. The air is further charged up by spurting victories, racking up scatters, sticky wilds, and free spins. This game is more about the fans than the game itself.The players get two teams, the Red and the Blue team. Champion’s Goal is basically for those who love some thrill and enjoy feeling their adrenaline rise.

This product from Elk Studios has five reels, 20 paylines, and a Return to Player percentage of 95.7%. If the gods are in your favor, you can win up to £200,000. The wagers of this game resemble those of Football Star and Champion’s Cup, meaning this game is wallet-friendly.

In Conclusion

It doesn’t matter if you are a high risk, medium, or low-risk player, as long as you love football, there is always a football-themed slot on the market for you. And now that we have mobile casinos, you can take them everywhere with you, and you will never have to miss a moment of football action in your life. Pick one and go!

Anderson, Foakes and Leach set to return to test cricket in Sri Lanka

With spring already in the air, the fantasy cricket focus will soon be shifting towards the county season and the all new 100-ball franchise that might just reinvent 2020 cricket. But before all that gets underway, there is one last piece of business from the 2019/20 winter season to conclude. 

England’s tour to Sri Lanka might ordinarily look like something of an afterthought. After all, it is just a two-test series tagged on to a winter that has seen England contest dramatic battles in New Zealand and South Africa. Furthermore, it is one that the online cricket betting sites firmly expect England to win. However, from a fantasy cricket perspective, there are no dead rubbers. The series counts towards the ICC test championship, and from an England viewpoint in particular, the performance of several key individuals will provide important signals for the summer ahead. Let’s find out who’s in and who’s out.

Jimmy marches on

England’s most prolific seamer of all time proved in South Africa that at 37 his skill and guile have not diminished. But from a fitness angle, the cracks are starting to show. Anderson has declared himself fit, and if he can withstand the two test series without breaking down again, home fans will surely have a chance to see him in action one last time this summer. Anderson’s place seems certain to be at the expense of Jofra Archer, who is recovering from a stress fracture to his right elbow and is unlikely to be back in England colours before June.

Recall on the cards for Foakes

Is being an Essex wicketkeeper some sort of test match hoodoo? Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, James Foster was acknowledged to be the best keeper in the country but was constantly overlooked. Ben Foakes seems to be following a similar path, and his move to Surrey didn’t break the curse. That could finally change in Sri Lanka. Foakes featured in the 2018 tour and was instrumental in England’s 3-0 win. His superior glovemanship could also mean Buttler will play as a specialist batsman and, at last, find some form in the middle.

But no room for Mo

Last summer’s unlikely hero, the bespectacled Jack Leach, seems set to return to the England fold having spent the past month battling sepsis on top of his other health problems. It’s good news for England, who will need as much variation in the spin department as possible. It will also be intriguing to see Leach and Bess bowling in tandem at the highest level. Leach’s return, however, means that there’s unlikely to be a way back in for another crowd favourite. Moeen Ali has announced his availability for an England return, but there is  feeling that the England selectors have moved on. Ali brings an excess of emotional baggage along with his talent, and if a third spinner is needed, Liam Dawson is likely to be the preferred choice.

Premier League 2019-2020 – the winter transfer window’s most promising deals

When discussing the winter transfer window in the English Premier League, one of the arguments you will probably hear often is that it is not the ideal period to bring in new players. Examples of multi-million pound transfers that flopped completely, like Fernando Torres moving from Liverpool to Chelsea for £50 million in January 2011 or Andy Carroll going from Newcastle to Liverpool in that same year for £35 million, are likely to follow that argument. But what about the likes of Virgil van Dijk coming to Liverpool in January 2018? Or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang moving from Dortmund to Arsenal that same January?

The clubs in the Premier League brought in 50 new players this January and this figure includes moves like Tottenham making Giovani Lo Celso’s loan deal permanent. Sheffield United, Wolves and Aston Villa brought in the most new players with five incoming transfers, while Newcastle, Norwich and Watford share second place in terms of volume by welcoming four new faces each. The clubs are trying to match available players to their existing team to cover weakness and provide competition amongst their players just like match-bonus-code.co.uk helps match online players with bonuses. In this piece, we want to take a look at some of the transfers from the 2019-2020 campaign’s winter transfer window that have the potential to be a direct reinforcement for their new teams. In this case we will not be considering any loan deals made permanent, like the previously mentioned Lo Celso deal, but only players that are brought in by their new English employers during the January 2020 transfer window.

Sander Berge – Sheffield United (undisclosed fee)

After 98 appearances and 6 goals for Belgian side RC Genk since moving there from Norwegian club Valerenga in the summer of 2017, Sheffield United put down an undisclosed fee on the table to bring him to Bramall Lane. It may have been a surprise move for some, but the 21-year old has already been playing at the highest international for some years now, including in the Champions League with Genk and in tournament qualification rounds with the Norway national team for which he has already clocked 20 games. Not bad for a young central midfielder whose best is undoubtedly still to come. Blades manager Chris Wilder did not hesitate when he put Berge in the starting lineup just a day after finalising his move to the club. The Norwegian international played in the place of Lundstram and made it to 67 minutes before being taken off with his first 3 FPL points in the pocket. His position on the pitch and his goalscoring history at his previous clubs might not be too appealing from an FPL point of view, but he might be getting plenty of minutes over the second half of the season and at £5m, he could come into the mix as a fifth midfielder pick.

Steven Bergwijn – Spurs (£27 million)

If immediate impact would be the key parameter to judge the success of a January transfer, then Steven Bergwijn is probably this winter window’s best signing. Spurs boss José Mourinho welcomed the Dutch forward on January 29th and surprised the fiso forum members with a starting spot for his new signing just a few days later when reigning champions Manchester City came to London. Despite the skyblue dominance that game, Spurs got away with a 2-0 victory and it was Bergwijn who scored the opening goal with a wonderful low volley after a Lucas Moura pass. He was taken off just a couple of minutes later, in the 69th minute, but his debut for the North London could not have gone better. Bergwijn is classified as a midfielder in FPL, but he is more of a winger and he will be aiming for one of the spots on the wings or the number 10 berth. With the likes of Moura, Son, and Lo Celso all fit, competition is fierce and Stevie will most likely need some more time to really completely adapt to the Premier League, but with 10 FPL points from his first game, he has hit the ground running.

Danny Rose – Newcastle (loan)

England international Danny Rose has joined Newcastle United on loan from Tottenham Hotspur until the end of the season. The 29-year-old full back, who played in the 2018 World Cup semi-final and the 2019 Champions League final, was brought in by Magpies’ head coach Steve Bruce after starting left-back Jetro Willems suffered a season-ending injury. Rose got 11 minutes as a substitute for his new club during the first game after his move and it looks like he will be slotting right into the starting lineup. The question here is for which position he will be aiming, because Matt Ritchie is fit again and likely to play left wing-back and Rose played on the left side of the midfield when he came on for Allan Saint-Maximin in gameweek 25. The Spurs man has played higher up the pitch before for his previous club and it will be interesting to see if Steve Bruce has a similar role in mind for him during this second part of the season. That could make him a decent differential pick in FPL. It’s hard to imagine Rose not starting for Newcastle, so just keep an eye on the Magpies news for more information on his role in the squad.

Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United (£47 million)

The biggest transfer of the 2019-2020 Premier League’s winter transfer window is the move of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United for £47 million. The Red Devils are going through a disappointing season and one of the reasons for that has been the lack of top class quality on the midfield. This, of course, can not be seen as completely unconnected to Pogba’s situation at the club. In any case, Fernandes was brought in to bolster the central midfield and it’s not too hard to see why when looking at his stats for Sporting: 63 and 52 assists in 137 games. As a result, he also has 19 caps for the Portuguese national team on his name and he was part of the Portugal squad that won the first UEFA Nations League in 2019. United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer put him in the starting lineup against Wolves at Old Trafford in gameweek 25, just a couple of days after moving to Manchester, and he completed the 90 minutes. He recorded just 2 FPL points from that game, but he did leave a very good impression, in part thanks to creating more danger and having more attempts on goal than any other United player. At £8m, he’s quite expensive in the official game, but 2.2% of managers have already snapped him up. It seems unlikely that Fernandes will be involved in the goals as much as he was at Sporting, but we find it hard to imagine him not being a fixture in United’s starting lineup for the rest of the season.

Fanteam Weekly Monster Early Entry Team – GW26 Part 1

FISO are starting a new series of weekly articles on Fanteam, Europe’s biggest daily fantasy football provider (and entering the team that we write about!). This series will focus on Fanteam’s Weekly Monster, a weekly fantasy league based on the weekend Premier League games. Our article will focus on a Early Entry for this weekly tournament which will help you identify game rules, tactics and the most promising players per gameweek so you can win some of that large prize money.

This weekend’s round, due to the winter break, is split up into two weekends. As a result, the classic Fanteam Weekly Monster format with a 50,000 euro prize pool based on nine Premier League games has been replaced this weekend by the Weekend Big Four 15k for this gameweek. The concept is identical, but it involves only the four games of GW26 that are being played this weekend and the prize pool sits at 15,000 euros.

Before moving onto our team selection, we want to highlight a couple of Fanteam rules that they apply to their Weekly Monster competition and that represent some of the major differences when comparing the game to the FPL.

Number one is that FanTeam have a rule called the ‘safety net’. The safety net comes into play when a selected player does not start in the Weekly Monster, because the game will then automatically replace this player with the next lowest-priced player from the same position (GK, DEF, MID, FOR) in the same team. By ‘next’ lowest we mean if our player (who doesn’t start) is priced at 7m and two players priced less than him at 6.8m and 6.5m start then our replacement will be the 6.8m player. The automatic replacement is regardless of whether or not your selected player does take to the field later in the game. This rule means people who have entered a team into the Weekly Monster need not worry too much about whether their selected players will start or not, particularly if they know there are cheaper players for that same club in that same position who should start instead.

Number two is that FanTeam also have a ‘stacking penalty’ for the Weekly Monster, which penalises teams that have selected more than one defenders/goalkeeper from the same club. The stacking penalty comes into play when you pick more than one defensive player (defenders or goalkeepers) from a particular club and this club records a clean sheet. The points awarded for this clean sheet will decrease by 1 point for each additional defensive player from the same club that you have selected. The stacking penalty has a maximum of minus 3 points. This rule helps stop multi-entrants from gaining an advantage by submitting block defence teams.

The deadline for the Weekend Big Four 15K tournament is set at 12h30 (UK time) on Saturday, February 8th, 2020.

Gameweek 26 Weekend Big Four matches

08/02/20 Everton Crystal Palace
08/02/20 Brighton Watford
09/02/20 Sheffield United Bournemouth
09/02/20 Manchester City West Ham

How did our Weekly Monster team fare in gameweek 25?

Formation: 3-4-3  | GW24 finish: 432nd/2566 |  Prize: €31

NAME (club) (opponent) RETURNS POINTS
Fabianski (WHU) (Brighton H) 4 saves 3
Clark (NEW) (Norwich H) Clean sheet 6
Lascelles (NEW) (Norwich H) Clean sheet 6
Alexander-Arnold (LIV) Southampton H) Clean sheet 7
C Salah (LIV) (Southampton H) 2 goals, clean sheet 15
Almiron (NEW) (Norwich H) Clean sheet 4
Noble (WHU) (Brighton H) /// 3
Grealish (AST) (Bournemouth a) /// 2
VC Firmino (LIV) (Southampton H) 3 assists 13
Haller (WHU) (Brighton H) /// 3
Jimenez (WOL) (Man United a) /// 2

Our team suggestion for the Big Four 15k in gameweek 26 – part 1

Formation: 3-2-1 |  Budget used: €60m (complete)

Goalkeeper

Instead of recommending a goalkeeper here, as we would usually do, we’re using this space instead to elaborate a bit on this week’s Big Four game, starting with why we haven’t selected a goalkeeper this week. In gameweek 26 of Fanteam’s Weekly Monster, the number of available matches to pick players from was reduced to four and instead of selecting 11 players, we had to select just 6. We could do so in any formation we wanted (a 0-3-3, for example), there was no limit on the number of picks from a specific team, and there was no possibility to select a goalkeeper this week.

Loading up on the home teams is hard though, as selecting three Man City players (who play West Ham at home, which is probably the best fixture this weekend) will easily take up 60% or more of your budget. You would then have too little budget left to fill your team, unless you pick a few West Ham defenders. We have gone with Man City and Sheffield United (vs Bournemouth at home) this weekend, hoping for a City goalscoring bonanza and a very comfortable clean sheet for the Blades. As you will see below, our formation in gameweek 26 is 3-2-1.

Defenders

In defence, we have opted for a Sheffield United double up, which means the stacking penalty will come into play in case the Blades record a clean sheet against Bournemouth at home. Our picks are right-back George Baldock and one of the three central defenders, Chris Basham. Manager Chris Wilder does not tend to rotate his team a lot, especially not in defence, and these two players are fit, so we are confident that these two players will start this weekend.

In the unlikely event that Baldock doesn’t start, the safety net will swap him out for one of the two central defenders, O’ Connell or Egan. Should Baldock not be part of the starting lineup, then the safety net can still switch him out for John Egan. Baldock, O’ Connell and Egan have all played the full 90 minutes in each of the last five Premier League games, while Basham completed the 90 minutes on three occasions over that same run. He was subbed off late on the other two occasions, in the 77th and the 78th minute, respectively. In other words, with this defensive set-up, we have good coverage in a favourable fixture for Sheffield United, at a decent price and with some protection provided by the safety net.

Due to budget constraints after selecting our three attacking players (see below), we only had very little room left for a sixth pick to complete our team. This is why we ended up picking a three-man defence even when it was theoretically possible to not pick any defender this week as well. From the cheapest players in this week’s game who are assured a starting spot, we figured Crystal Palace’s James Tomkins is probably the best shout.

The English central defender is part of the Premier League’s fourth-best defence, with just Liverpool, Leicester and Sheffield United having conceded less than Palace’s 29 goals so far. They are rolling up to Goodison Park, where the local FC have scored just 15 goals in 12 games, so if Palace boss Roy Hodgson decides to play defensively in the hope of securing at least a point, picking Tomkins could pay off. Finally, to the most optimistic managers among us, we will also say that the defender also has a goal and an assist to his name, which indicates he does pose some attacking threat as well.

Midfielders

Our midfield for gameweek 26 consists of two players, but two of the most expensive assets available this round. The main reasons for their heavy price tags are the fact that they both play for Manchester City and that they are facing off with West Ham at the Etihad this weekend. Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva are not only two of the best midfielders to have graced the Premier League in the past decade, but also two of the very best midfielders active in the current season.

With “just” 3 assists and a total of 22 FPL points over the past five gameweeks, the Belgian midfielder cooled down a bit in comparison to earlier in the season. He already has 7 goals and an unbelievable 17 assists to his name, making him the second-best player in the official fantasy game with only Salah in front of him (161 vs 165 FPL points). The Hammers did not look very solid in the back when they played Brighton at home in gameweek 25 and De Bruyne will be looking to pounce on the smallest mistake. It’s no surprise that he is the most expensive player in the Weekend Big Four.

As if that wasn’t enough for West Ham, De Bruyne will likely be partnered with David Silva in the middle. The Spanish midfield maestro has not seen as many Premier League minutes as his Belgian teammate, but in the 1168 minutes he did get, he made them count: 3 goals, 9 assists and 87 FPL points. Next up for Dilva is West Ham, who have conceded 18 goals in the 12 games they have played away from home so far this season. One of the disadvantages of picking the Spaniard is that he will most likely not complete the 90 minutes, which will cost you a point in the Weekend Big Four, but his price tag does bring us the comfort of the safety net. Within the Man City midfield roster, Bernardo Silva, Rodrigo, Gundogan and Fernandinho are all less expensive than he is.

Forwards

Our only forward for gameweek 26 is Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, for the obvious reasons. The Argentinian blanked on his last outing against Tottenham, but anyone who has seen the game or even the highlights will at one point or another have asked himself or herself how on Earth it was possible that Aguero had not recorded a return yet, especially when Gundogan squandered the penalty he had won in the 40th minute. In the three games prior to the Spurs fiasco though, Kun scored 6 goals and provided 1 assist for an impressive total of 37 points in FPL.

Aguero is also our captain, although as there are no vice-captains in this 6 man team game if he doesn’t start then we get no double points so it is a risk.

This team has been entered into the 20 euro FanTeam Big Four 15k and we hope to report back next week that we’ve shared part of the 15,000 euros prize pool. You can also follow discussions about FanTeam games on FISO’s FanTeam Forum. FISO members could win free ‘Weekly Monster’ entries (worth 20 euros) via the FISO FanTeam forum. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks. Read all about a fiso member who won 30,000 euros on FanTeam from just a 2 euro entry fee. FanTeam have also just launched a 500,000 euro Fantasy Premier League game.

FPL Season 2019/2020 – Gameweek 26 Preview

“GW26 of the 2019-2020 campaign sees the first winter break in Premier League history” (CC by 4.0). Image by Damian Stricker

After last weekend’s developments, league leaders Liverpool are now 22 points ahead of 2nd placed Manchester City with thirteen rounds to go. At this rate, with this humongous 22-point gap remaining intact, Jurgen Klopp’s men can crown themselves champions of England after the gameweek 32 encounter with, you guessed it, Manchester City! The big question is: can anyone or any team prevent this scenario from becoming reality? Southampton looked like they were capable of causing Liverpool some trouble for about a half last weekend, but that game eventually finished 4-0 in the Reds’ favour, which might just be very illustrative for their incredible season so far.

In other news, José Mourinho’s Tottenham caused the shock of the Fantasy Premier League weekend by dispatching of Manchester City at home, 2-0. Spurs had been far from free-flowing up until now and City could have won this game on any other day, but not last Sunday. The other top-six encounters (Leicester vs Chelsea and Man United vs Wolves) in gameweek 25 both ended in draws, 2-2 and 0-0 respectively. Bournemouth booked a very necessary 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, Everton came from behind to take three points back home from Carrow Road, and a Robert Snodgrass brace was not enough for West Ham to hold on a lead at home to Brighton (3-3).

A last note in regard to gameweek 26: this gameweek is split into two halves, one taking place this weekend and the other the following weekend. This means that some of the fantasy picks that you need to decide on coming Saturday will only play about a week later, so keep that in mind.

Finally, don’t forget that the deadline for gameweek 26 is set at 11h30 (GMT+0) on Saturday, February 8th, 2020.

How did our fantasy picks for the previous gameweek fare?

PICK PLAYER OPPONENT POINTS
Premium Mo Salah Southampton (H) 16
Premium P-E Aubameyang Burnley (a) 2
Non-premium John Lundstram Crystal Palace (a) 1
Non-premium Raul Jimenez Manchester United (a) 2
Differential Matt Ritchie Norwich (H) 6
Differential Divock Origi Southampton (H) 0
Captain Mo Salah Southampton (H) 32

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per February 5th, 2020)

  TRANSFERS OUT TRANSFERS IN POSSIBLE REASONS
GK Schmeichel (LEI), Ryan (BRI), Gazzaniga (TOT) Henderson (SHE), Pope (BUR), Button (BRI) Current form, fixture swings and the return of Lloris.
DEF Lundstram (SHE), Kelly (CRY), Söyüncü (LEI) Baldock (SHE), Van Dijk (LIV), O’ Connell (SHE) Sheffield United have favourable fixtures coming up, but Lundstram was benched recently.
MID Mané (LIV), Maddison (LEI), Martial (UTD) Salah (LIV), Son (TOT), Bergwijn (TOT) Mané remains injured, Martial is not delivering, Salah is approaching top form, and Spurs just beat City 2-0 with new boy Bergwijn scoring on his debut.
FOR Vardy (LEI), Abraham (CHE), Ings (SOU) Firmino (LIV), Jimenez (WOL), Ings (SOU) Largely form-based, though Ings seems to be really dividing FPL managers into 2 camps.

Premium fantasy picks

Not having or bringing in Kun Aguero (£12.0m) in gameweek 26 is one of those “You can, but at your own peril” kind of situations. True, there is the very real risk of rotation with a fit and in-form Gabriel Jesus praying on a starting spot up front as well, but Aguero looks too good to rotate right now. He did not return anything for the roughly 1,7 million FPL managers who currently own him in last weekend’s game against Spurs, but to be honest, we’re not entirely sure how that’s possible. The Argentinian  could have had a hattrick in the first half alone and Gundogan missed a penalty that had been won by the striker as well. In the three games prior to the Spurs encounter though, Aguero recorded an unbelievable 37 FPL points, courtesy of 6 goals and 1 assist. This weekend’s opponent West Ham have just come off conceding three goals at home to Brighton, while their total of goals conceded in 12 away games sits at 18 already. In other words, a serious Aguero haul could be on the way.

Based on current form and fixtures, we felt that we simply could not go without a premium fantasy pick from Liverpool’s roster. We didn’t want to repeat our consecutive recommendation of Mo Salah and Firmino is up next in the “Non-premium” category, so we took a bit of a risk instead. Sadio Mané (£12.2) got injured during the first half hour of gameweek 24 and the hope is that he will be back in the team for the away game against Norwich in gameweek 26 (which takes place on Saturday, February 15th). His ownership has plummeted over the past few weeks to “just” 21.7% and with Salah’s ownership expected to rise above his current 43.4%, the Senegalese winger could be something of a unique differential against the Canaries. He has scored 11 goals and provided 8 assists so far this season and the fact that 4 of those goals and 3 of those assists have come away from home only further increases the appeal of this punt.

Non-premium fantasy picks

As we wrote above, one of our two non-premium fantasy picks for gameweek 26 is Roberto Firmino (£9.7m). The Liverpool forward has been in more than decent form over the past five weeks, recording 31 FPL points from 2 goals and 3 assists. It should also be noted that the opposition over that run consisted of three away games (Spurs, Wolves, West Ham) and two home games (Man United, Southampton). In other words, not the easiest run of fixtures imaginable. The upcoming run of games is a whole different story, though: Norwich away, West Ham home, Watford away and Bournemouth home. The Brazilian already has 8 goals and 8 assists to his name, and all of those goals plus one assist were recorded away from Anfield, which is a stat of such nature that it’s worth taking into account when deciding on Firmino. Considering his current form and the favourable upcoming run of fixtures though, there are probably not a lot of better forward options in the official game at the moment.

Firmino is currently the eight-best forward in FPL and one spot above him is Southampton’s Danny Ings (£7.0). The English striker’s incredible goal-scoring form cooled down a bit due to a three-game streak without any returns, but we caution against writing him off already. First of all, in one of those three games, Ings got just 20 minutes of playing time, and second of all, he was a constant menace to the Liverpool defence last weekend. He probably should have gotten a penalty in that game as well, but instead he finished the game with 2 FPL points. The Saints and Ings will get opportunities to get back to winning and scoring ways over the coming weeks though, with the next five games being Burnley at home, Aston Villa at home, West Ham away, Newcastle home and Norwich away. We can easily see Southampton’s striker adding to his current 14 goals and 1 assist over that run.

A differential fantasy pick or two

Sometimes, when a budget player spreads out his returns over a longer period of time, he can slip under the FPL radar for quite a long time, which is what John Fleck (£5.1m) has done, kind of. The midfield creator carries a very modest price tag and is owned by just 6.4% of FPL managers, but he is just 13 points shy of the 100-point mark after 25 gameweeks. Fleck has scored 5 goals, provided 2 assists and played a part in 7 clean sheets, which has brought the happy few who own him a very nice 87 points. Gameweek 28 is a blank one for the Blades, but before that, they have home games against Bournemouth and Brighton coming up, and after GW28, it’s Norwich at home. Combine that knowledge with the fact that Fleck scored 56 of his 87 points in front of his own crown and you can see why he could be an outstanding budget-enabling pick for the short and medium term.

Our second differential fantasy pick for GW25 is based on just one game, a lot of enthusiasm, and a desire to take a real punt this weekend. Steven Bergwijn (£7.5m) needed just 63 minutes to introduce himself to the Spurs fans and the Premier League in general. A few days after signing from PSV Eindhoven, José Mourinho surprised us with a spot in the starting eleven for the Dutchman and he did not disappoint. At the point of drowning against the reigning champions, Bergwijn placed a well-controlled volley in the bottom right corner to make it 1-0. This was followed by Son’s 2-0 not ten minutes later, which meant game over for Pep Guardiola. The new winger’s dream debut got him 10 points in FPL and we’re thinking: why would he not simply continue this trend when Spurs visit Aston Villa in gameweek 25 (which takes on February 15th)? It’s a real punt and Mourinho might even leave him out of the starting eleven, but if he doesn’t and Stevie does his magic again, you can be part of the lucky 1% (his current ownership total) if you picked him.

For further GW26 transfer ideas look at this fiso FPL forum topic.

The captaincy

Seeing how convinced we are of Sergio Aguero‘s potential earlier in this piece, it would be kind of strange not to pick him as our captain for gameweek 25. He is facing West Ham, who have improved under David Moyes, but who are still far from a solid, reliable unit. Last weekend’s home game against Brighton showed that once again as the Hammers lost gave up a 3-1 lead in the final 15 minute of the encounter. Their defense definitely did look suspect at times and they won’t be looking forward to stopping off Aguero, or trying to at least.

In case you can’t or don’t want to make Aguero part of your team, gameweek 26 fortunately offers some decent alternatives. Salah and Firmino are facing Norwich away from home, so they could be good picks for the armband. Danny Ings will be looking to get back to scoring against Bournemouth next weekend, just like Raul Jimenez will be against Leicester at Molineux. If you want to make it even riskier, the likes of Calvert-Lewin at Goodison Park vs Palace, Maupay at home to Watford, Baldock and Fleck against Bournemouth at Bramall Lane, and Aubameyang against Newcastle at the Emirates could reap highly differential awards.

The FISO Forum Captain poll for GW26 shows Salah and Aguero out in front followed by KDB.

Finally if you like FPL but want to have a go at a weekly Fantasy Premier League type competition for prizes then have a look at FanTeam’s 50,000 euro Weekly Monster. FISO members could win free ‘Weekly Monster’ entries (worth 20 euros) via the FISO FanTeam forum. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks. Read all about a fiso member who won 30,000 euros on FanTeam from just a 2 euro entry fee. FanTeam have also just launched a 500,000 euro Fantasy Premier League game.