The Champions League 2020-21 campaign kicked off last week and immediately got into full swing. This week, it’s time for round two of the group stage, but to those fans who did not manage to register for FanTeam’s huge €250K Champions League Group Stage tournament last week, worry not: late registration is still open! To make things even better, every late entrant will be awarded 57 FanTeam points to start with, just under gameweek 1’s average.
After our CL team entered on 19 October, we will also be entering a late entry this gameweek. Before going over our selection of picks, we’ll list of the tournament’s most important specifics here below.
- Scoring is as usual on FanTeam.
- As the name suggests, the 250K Champions League Group Stage tournaments spans over 6 gameweeks, in accordance with the 6 group games.
- Each participant receives 2 free transfers in the build-up to each every gameweek.
- You can save one week’s worth of transfers in order to have a maximum of 4 free transfers the next week.
- Late entries start with 57 FT points, 90% of gameweek 1’s average.
- Late entries compete equally for the prize pool, including the whopping €50K for first place.
OUR GENERAL APPROACH
In order to get started on FanTeam’s 250K Champions League Group Stage tournament, we needed to create a team of 15 players, consisting of 2 goalkeepers, 5 defenders, 5 midfielders and 3 forwards inside a budget $100 million. For our late entry, we have tried to create a balanced team, including a decent bench. With the corona issues impacting football all over Europe, a strong bench might become more important than ever over the coming weeks. For the majority of our fantasy picks, we have taken the coming three rounds into account with the idea of saving our free transfers next week. That way, we can plan a 4-transfer team overhaul if needed in the build-up to gameweek 4.
As far as our goalkeepers are concerned, we have focused on budget-enabling starters and fortunately, a few appealing picks were available. To start with, we have gone with Porto goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin, who faced English giants Manchester City in gameweek 1. The Portuguese side put up a good fight, but they still ended up conceding three goals. As a result, their Argentinian shot stopper did not start the 2020-21 campaign with a clean sheet, but he did record 1,5 FT points, courtesy of 3 saves. With Olympiakos at home followed by a double encounter with Marseille up next, Marchesin looks like an appealing pick in goal for just 4.5M.
As his back-up, we have gone with Barcelona goalie Neto, who is filling in for first choice Marc-André Ter Stegen until he recovers from injury. The Brazilian is facing Ronaldo and the rest of Juventus on Wednesday, but after that it’s Dynamo Kiev at home and away. It’s still unclear when Ter Stegen will be ready for action again, but until then, a starting Barcelona goalkeeper at just 4.5M is a bargain. Should our first-choice goalie Marchesin not make the starting lineup in the coming Champions League weeks for whatever reason, then we’ll have Neto to fall back on.
After Bayern Munich’s 4-0 thrashing of Atletico Madrid, we basically had no choice but to include a few of their players in our FanTeam €250K Champions League Group Stage, starting with defender Benjamin Pavard. The French left-back started 3 of the 4 Bundesliga games played so far this season and he got 25 minutes as a substitute in the one game he didn’t start. Pavard was also a starter for Bayern’s gameweek 1 clash with Atletico, in which he ended up recording 7 FT points. The Germans are heavy favourites in their group and have an away game against Lokomotiv Moscow followed by a double clash Salzburg coming up. The Frenchman should get the nod for the majority if not all of the games in the group stage.
Despite conceding four goals against Bayern last week, we have saved a spot for Atletico Madrid defender Stefan Savic. After all, any team at any time can lose big against the reigning European champions. In La Liga, Diego Simeone’s men seem to have once again formed a very solid defensive unit. Los rojiblancos have conceded just a single goal in five games. Should they win the two games they currently have in hand, they would be top of the table. In Europe, Atletico has a home game versus Salzburg coming up, followed by double encounter with Lokomotiv Moscow. Though Savic doesn’t tend to get involved a lot up front, we think there could definitely be defensive returns on the cards for him over the coming weeks.
At Juventus, coach Andrea Pirlo has to deal with a bit of an injury crisis at the moment, mainly in defense. Despite that, we have still gone with Merih Demiral as our third defensive fantasy pick. The Old Lady is facing a Barcelona side in transition at home on Wednesday, which might not end in a clean sheet, but the two games after that definitely could. In gameweeks 3 and 4, Juve are playing Hungarian champions Ferencváros. Once the usual starters Bonucci, Chiellini and De Ligt are fit again, Demiral might find himself on the bench again, but at 5.0M, the Turkish center-back looks like a wise FanTeam pick for the weeks to come.
The clash between Atalanta and Ajax could well end up being one of the most entertaining ones this week. Both teams always try to play a fast-paced, attacking kind of football and neither of the two is likely to adapt much to the opponent for this. In other words, there could be loads of goals in this one, but we have still gone with Ajax central defender Perr Schuurs. The talented Dutchman might not record a clean sheet in Bergamo on Tuesday, but the double encounter with Danish minnows Midtjylland after that might. At 4.5M, he provides good value as a fourth or fifth defender in our team.
Speaking of good value, Porto left-back Zaidu Sanusi might represent one of the bargains of the ongoing FanTeam €250K Champions League Group Stage tournament. With first-choice left-back Alex Telles moving to Manchester United on Deadline Day, the Nigerian looks to have cemented a spot as his replacement in the starting line-up. After Telles left, it was Sanusi who immediately got his first 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw with Sporting Lisbon in the league. The 23-year old Nigerian made a good impression with an assist and he followed that up with a good display in gameweek 1 of the CL against Man City. With Olympiakos at home this week followed by two games against French side Marseille, the fixture calendar has turned more appealing for Porto now and Sanusi could be one of the benificiaries of that.
As we wrote earlier, we have tried to look for balance when selecting our team for the FanTeam €250K Champions League Group Stage tournament, but we felt we could not leave out Mo Salah. At 11M, the Liverpool star is our joint-most expensive pick for our late-entry team, because he is simply that good. The injury of Virgil van Dijk has cast some shadow over the Reds’ defensive reliability, but we feel their attack will still be going at full speed. With Salah as the main man up front and on penalties, and with games against Midtjylland (home), Atalanta (away) and Atalanta (home) coming up, we find it hard to imagine not to see the Egyptian bag a few goals over the coming weeks. Mo is also our captain for GW2.
Where our star man Salah blanked against Ajax in gameweek 1, our Bayern Munich midfield ace Thomas Muller didn’t against Atletico Madrid. The German superstar did what he does best, namely provide an assist, which resulted in 6 FT points for him and his owners. Last season, he provided no less than 26 assists in 50 games for Bayern Munich and this year, his total already sits on 4 assists after five Bundesliga games. On top of that, Muller has 3 league goals to his name as well. After their 4-0 victory over Atletico in GW1, we believe that Bayern are probably one of the best teams to back over the coming weeks, with games against Lokomotiv Moscow (away) and Salzburg (home and away) coming up next.
Up next is Ivan Rakitic, who we felt was available at quite a bargain price considering his quality and his key role in an excellent side like Sevilla FC. He returned to the Andalusians this summer after nine years at Schalke and then Barcelona, and he has slotted right back into the starting eleven. He has so far started all five of Sevilla’s games, and he managed to score 1 goal and provide 1 assist (in the European Super Cup against Bayern). In Group E, the Spaniards started with 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge and they will now host French side Rennes on Tuesday. After that, they have the double clash with Russian side Krasnodar coming up. As reigning Europa League champions, Sevilla will be the favourites in each of these games and Rakitic should be getting a few returns over that period.
Though Lazio Roma are by no means a side anyone should underestimate, their emphatic 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund did come as a bit of a surprise. Despite this result, we have still gone with two Dortmund assets for our FanTeam €250K Champions League Group Stage squad, starting with wing-back/midfielder Raphaël Guerreiro. He played the full 90 minutes against Lazio in gameweek 1 and after missing the first round of the 2020-21 Bundesliga season due to injury, he has started in 3 of the 4 league games after that. Dortmund have some making up to do after the defeat in Rome and with Zenit (home), Club Brugge (away) and Club Brugge (home) up next, they will get the opportunities to do so over the coming weeks.
We mentioned earlier how Group D could be full of goals, which is why we have gone with Ajax winger Antony as our fifth midfielder. The hugely talented Brazilian has hit the ground running in Europe after transferring to Amsterdam for €22 million. He missed the first Champions League game against Liverpool last week, but in the Eredivisie, he already has 4 goals and 2 assists to his name. Ajax made a good impression against the English champions in GW1 and were unlucky to concede an own goal, but they will get their chances to make up for it. They are first visiting Atalanta on Tuesday, followed by a double encounter with Midtjylland. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Antony score his first Champions League goal over the coming weeks and with a current ownership of just 1%, he’s a great differential.
Like for our gameweek 1 team, we are opting for a front three led by Dortmund goalmachine Erling Haaland for our late entry into the FanTeam 250K Champions League Group Stage tournament. With 44 goals and 10 assists in 40 official games last season, the Norwegian international was one of the most in-form players on the continent and it doesn’t look like he’s going to slow down this year. After 8 games in total, he has already recorded 7 goals and 3 assists, including the only goal in the defeat against Lazio last week. With these numbers and an upcoming Champions League run of Zenit Saint Petersburg at home, Club Brugge away and Club Brugge at home, we felt we had no choice but to spend 11.0M of our budget on the 20-year old. Haaland is our vice-captain for GW2.
Our second forward pick is Atletico Madrid striker Luis Suarez, who left Barcelona on allegedly unfriendly terms in the summer. Whatever happened, in Madrid he has continued with what he has been doing for years and that is scoring goals. With 4 goals and 1 assist from five Primera División games, the Uruguayan has been directly involved in no less than 50% of Atletico’s league goals. He has started all but his debut game for the rojiblancos this season and we feel he is a snap at 8.5M. With two appealing home games (Salzburg and Lokomotiv Moscow) and an away game against Lokomotiv Moscow over the next three, we’re hoping for a haul or two from Luisito.
Our final striker is one we feel is a bit of a bargain as well at just 6.5M and a big differential with a current ownership of 0%, especially when he plays for Portuguese giants FC Porto. Moussa Marega is the first-choice man up front for the Dragões and they have a good set of fixtures coming up: Olympiakos at home, followed by a double clash with Marseille. No easy games by any means, but definitely games in which Marega will get chances to book some attacking returns. He has so far scored 2 goals and provided 1 assist in five league games (though this weekend he played just a single minute) and he completed the 90 minutes in gameweek 1 of the Champions League against Man City. That’s why the French-Malinese forward completes our late-entry squad for the FanTeam €250K Champions League Group Stage tournament.