After what may well be called one of the most spectacular summer transfer windows in recent memory, European football’s ball of billions is upon us once again. In a week’s time, Sevilla FC at home against Red Bull Salzburg and Swiss side Young Boys at home to Premier League giants Manchester United are kicking off the 2021-22 edition of the Champions League, and of course, FanTeam is present. As we have become accustomed by now from Europe’s largest DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) platform, they have announced another giant €250K Champions League Group Stage tournament at a buy-in of just €25 a pop.
As one of the main sources for FanTeam Champions League content, we at FISO.co.uk will be providing tips and useful information in the build-up to the September 14 kick-off. To start with, especially for the newcomers (very welcome, by the way!), you can find a comprehensive overview of the 250K Champions League Group Stage tournament’s rules here.
In this piece then, we will be taking a look at some of the best value and budget options amongst the 32 Champions League rosters. With living Champions League legends and regular heavy hitters like Robert Lewandowski (14.5M), Karim Benzema (13.5M), Lionel Messi (13.5M) and Cristiano Ronaldo (13.0M) all weighing heavily on your 100M budget, making a few effective budget-enabling fantasy picks can go a long way in helping you finish inside the lofty €250K prize pool.
Don’t forget that the deadline for submitting a team in the €250K Champions League Group Stage game is set at 16h15 (UK time) on Tuesday, September 14th.
When budgets are tight and player prices high, picking a decent budget goalkeeper can help free up the funds you need to invest in your outfield players. For example, where premium shot stoppers like Thibaut Courtois and Gianluigi Donnarumma are available at heavy 8.0M price tags, finding a goalkeeper priced at 6.5M or even 6.0M can mean the difference between including Sadio Mané (12.0M) in your team instead of Roberto Firmino (10.0M) or Paul Pogba (10.5M) instead of Anthony Martial (9.5M).
Then again, goalkeepers can provide good value as well when they manage to combine a starting spot with a decent defence in front of them and a good set of upcoming fixtures. In a strong group, ‘save’ potential can be of value as well. In that light, one of last season’s best budget goalkeeper picks Péter Gulásci (6.5M) presents himself once again. His side RB Leipzig are in the extremely challenging group A with PSG and Manchester City, as well as Club Brugge. Leipzig are opening at the Etihad in Manchester next Wednesday and are hosting Brugge for a must-win encounter on September 28th. A combination of save points from the first game and a potential clean sheet in the second is definitely on the cards for Gulásci.
This season, Trent Alexander-Arnold (8.5M) is the most expensive defender on FanTeam’s €250K Champions League Group Stage tournament, thanks to a combination of being part of a top defence and exceptional potential for attacking returns. Other high-profile defenders offering good chances of attacking returns, such as Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and Manchester United’s Luke Shaw can be brought in for 8.0M, which still represents a considerable part of your available budget. While including one or even more of these premium defensive picks is recommended, you’ll likely at one point or another be looking for a few more budget-friendly alternatives as well.
One name to have on your watchlist is Villareal left-back Marcos Acuña (6.5M), who is first-choice for the reigning Europa League champions in both four- and five-man defensive set-ups. El Submarino Amarillo has conceded just one goal in their first three games of the 2021-22 LaLiga season, admittedly against smaller sides, and their opening schedule in the Champions League is kind as well. The Spaniards are starting with a home game against FC Salzburg before travelling to Wolfsburg in gameweek 2.
THE ENGINE ROOM
Some of the game’s most expensive fantasy picks this season can be found in midfield. The likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Bruno Fernandes cost 12.5M or more, while many of the world’s best wingers are listed as midfielders as well. These include prolific goalscorers like Liverpool’s Mo Salah (13.0M), Bayern’s Serge Gnabry (12.0M) and Real Madrid’s fit-again Eden Hazard (12.0M). In our search for interesting budget picks in midfield we have looked at assets priced at 8.5M or less as these can represent a considerable saving when compared to the popular premium picks.
At 8.5M, you can bring Bayern Munich mainstay Joshua Kimmich into your squad, which is interesting for several reasons. First of all, he is a nailed-on starting for the reigning German champions, usually as part of a double pivot just behind the teams four attackers. Second of all, he has set-piece duties for Bayern, both when it comes to corners and (indirect) free kicks. There are a few other candidates in the team as well, but Kimmich gets his fair share. And third of all, Bayern start the 2021-22 Champions League campaign with a home game against Dynamo Kiev followed by a visit to a Messi-less Barcelona side in big financial trouble.
For a whole million less, Davy Klaassen (7.5M) could be another interesting addition to your squad’s midfield. The Ajax midfielder and Dutch international is a key component of a side that will be eyeing qualification for the knock-out stages in a group with Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Lisbon and Besiktas. He has a knack for turning up in the box at the right time, which is illustrated by his 3 goals and 1 assist in six Europa League games last season, as well as by his 12 goals and 3 assists in the Eredivisie. The Amsterdam side are facing Sporting in Portugal and then Besiktas at home to kick off their Champions League campaign this year, so we feel Klaassen is worth keeping an eye at his price.
By far the biggest portion of ultra-premium fantasy assets in FanTeam’s €250K Champions League Group Stage game can be found in the Forward category. Besides the game’s most expensive player Robert Lewandowski (14.5M), big bucks are also required to bring in the likes of Romelu Lukaku (14.0M and the second-most expensive player in the game), Erling Haaland (13.5M) and Cristiano Ronaldo (13.0M). Even good attackers with lesser guarantees of playing minutes, such as Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus and Liverpool’s Diogo Jota will set you back more than 10M.
One big name who might end up being under-priced by FanTeam this season is Edin Dzeko (8.5M). The Nerazzurri lost their big man up front Romelu Lukaku to Man United just a few weeks ago and the Bosnian veteran was brought in to fill the void. In the two Serie A games that he played for Inter so far, Dzeko started as the sole striker and managed a goal and an assist. Their opening game in the Champions sees them square off with Real Madrid, but with an away game against Shahktar Donetsk followed by a double encounter with Moldovan minnows Sheriff Tiraspol, Dzeko looks like a potentially very smart use of limited funds.
For a second and even more budget-friendly forward pick, we’re staying in Milano, but moving to the red-and-black side of town. At AC Milan, another tall veteran in the person of Olivier Giroud (7.5M) has made a big impact from the get go. There is, of course, the not-so-small matter of Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the former Arsenal man to compete with, but with the Swedish forward out injured, Giroud has scored 2 goals in his first two games for the Rossoneri. Milan’s Champions League group is far from easy with Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and FC Porto, but with Giroud, you’re getting a proven goalscorer who is currently a starter for a good side at a bargain price.
Remeber you have almost 3 months of entertainment on offer but you must get your entries in by 4:15pm Tuesday 14th September. For furtehr help visit the FISO forum discussion on FanTeam’s September 2021 Champions League game.