UCL Fantasy – Budget Picks & Differential Picks

It is that time of the year and UEFA Champions League is back. With football come fantasy football and the race to make the perfect UCL CL Fantasy teams has already been on full swing.

Now, every person who has followed any football for the past few years knows Erling Haaland and Romelu Lukaku will probably outscore everyone else with the easy groups. Every football fan also knows CR7 will score a couple of outrageously good goals in an away – out of nowhere – hattrick.

But does knowing that win you Fantasy Football? No. That only keeps you around the average with everyone else. Why? Because everyone has Either Haaland, or Romelu, or both, in their teams. Also, you probably cannot have all the big players in your team. After all, they are premium players and owning more than 2 requires compromises elsewhere.

This is where the relatively hidden, lesser owned and cheaper budget options come into the picture. In this article, we explore the best picks taking that into account –

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GOAL KEEPERS

1. Marteen Stekelenburg (€4.5m: Ajax)

Stekelenburg is an experienced customer in the European goal keeping scene and has shown his calibre multiple times over the years.

In a group where the competition is open, with Ajax having a slight edge, getting a cheap goalie can be a simple and easy route into some good fantasy points in the group stages.

2. Ersin Destanoglu (€4m: Besiktas)

He is in the list more for the price than the potential for points. While the fixtures against Dortmund may bring in some save points, the fixtures against Ajax and Sporting CP provide a good prospect for manual substitutions.

Given the fact that it is mandatory to have a €4m goalie on the bench, might as well have a playing one that can give some lucky points for rotation on a bad day.

DEFENDERS

1. Cesar Azpiculeta (€5m: Chelsea)

Criminally underpriced and under picked for a defender who is almost ever present, guaranteed starter, club captain for the defending champion of the UCL, a team that won the title with the record lowest goals conceded in the entire tournament.

There should be no discussion over and above the fact that the plays for Chelsea, who have arguable the best defence, and a relatively easy group to play by.

Have him, you will not regret.

2. Marcos Acuna (€4.5m: Sevilla)

With only 5 goal contributions in the last season, Acuna may not be a player who rakes in points every game. But for the combination of attacking return potential and the potential of clean sheets, that too at just €4.5m, Marcos surely presents an excellent value.

With a relatively easy group comprising of Wolfsburg, LOSC Lille and RB Salzburg, Sevilla have all the chances for topping the group with multiple wins. Acuna can sure be a contributing factor in these wins with clean sheets, as well as some attacking returns, given the fact that he has been recording non-penalty xG+xA per 90 of 0.55 in the first few opening fixtures of the La Liga.

3. Kevin Mbabu (€4.5m: Wolfsburg)

Placed in the same open group as Sevilla, all the merits of the fixtures apply to Wolfsburg too, and therefore to Mbabu too. However, how has he managed to stay so underpriced and undetected is not easy to decode.

Having acknowledged that Wolfsburg occasionally tend to rotate their fullbacks, Mbabu still finds himself very high in the pecking order and is likely to start almost all their important fixtures, having started in 3 of the 4 matches this season.

His speed and bombing runs down the flank should also provide some potential attacking returns as well.

4. Thomas Munier (€5m: Dortmund)

Arguably the team with the easiest group opponents in Besiktas, Sporting CP and Ajax. And with easy fixtures, come a lot of fantasy points. In a very attacking side, Munier almost operates as a winger, playing very high up.

Having been classified as a defender for €5m, Munier presents an excellent potential for some clean sheet points and some attacking returns too. Although he may not be the out rightly best defender option for €5m, but his low ownership gives us an extra motivation to have him in the side.

5. Davide Calabria (€4.5m: AC Milan)

Although AC Milan find themselves in a hard group, a cheap full back that plays for a top team is a hard miss, especially in a fantasy football game whereby manual substitutes are allowed.

Moreover, Porto are not a very high scoring team relatively, and rest assured the Managers get two promising fixtures for picking Calabria.

At the moment, he is the first choice right full back for AC Milan, but he may have a slight rotation risk with A. Florenzi going forward, who also is priced similarly, and therefore can act as a easy transfer.

MIDFIELDERS

1. Jorginho (€6m: Chelsea)

There are a few midfielders who are goal magnets, some are assists magnets. Our UEFA Mens Player of the Year, Jorginho is a Man of the Match Magnet. Often the source of stability in the Chelsea side, the Italian midfield has panache for passing his time through in the field, in the process gathering a rare occasional assist. Jorginho also steps in at high pressure moments, including the penalty kicks, which gives him an extra value.

Further, due to the position he occupies in the Chelsea midfield and the general dominance of Thomas Tuchels side, Jorginho also attracts loads of ball recovery points in all matches he plays.

2. Mahmoud Dahoud (€5.5m: Dortmund)

Similar to Jorginho, Dahoud also receives a lot of points from the ball recovery tick. Priced cheaper than Jorginho and playing in an easier group than Chelsea, Dahoud presents excellent value at the price.

Even more so, if you consider the fact that he records the sixth highest non penalty xG + xA in the magnificently attacking Dortmund team. He is the player to have if you are low on budget, but want to have all 3 Dortmund slots filled, given the relatively easier group.

3. Erik Lamela (€6m: Sevilla)

Lamela operates in very attacking areas of the pitch for Sevilla and has very superior technical abilities. His presence draws defenders as he dribbles and passes his way through defence lines.

Although very inconsistent, he can come up for good having secured his transfer to Sevilla, with 3 goals already in the limited time he has played for his new club. Having shown he is settling quickly into life in Spain, Lamela may start regular matches very soon and therefore will become an absolute steal at the €6m price point for a team with a relatively easier group.

4. Jamal Musiala (€6.5m: Bayern Munich)

Playing in the wing for arguably one of the best teams in Europe, Musiala has been priced moderately considering the high level of competition for places in the Bayern Munich team. But, with Gnabry and Coman out injured, Musiala may find it easier to build on his 167 minutes he has already played with a start in the Bundesliga to his name.

The reason why Jamal has been included in this list is not narrowed to the fact that he has lesser competition for places, but the fact that he has played magnificently for Bayern with 2 goals and 2 assists already this season. That, with the fact that Bayern face a winnable group and will have it easy in the group stage.

5. Edson Alvarez (€4.5m: Ajax)

A €4.5m midfielder that starts almost every match for a team with relatively easier fixtures? Get in.

Alavarez may not have any outstanding potential for goals, assists or even ball recoveries, but the fact that you may get points for fodder prices is to be appreciated. He is therefore not very high on our list, but leaving him all together would have amounted to disrespecting the rules of Fantasy Football.

FORWARDS

1. Memphis Depay (€8.5m: Barcelona)

Gone are those days when the talisman for Barcelona used to be the talisman for world football. These days, you can get the leading striker of the Catalans for just €8.5m in the UEFA CL Fantasy.

Barcelona may not be contenders for this season’s UCL, but they are still a decent side that face two easy opponents in the group stages. Moreover, Depay has had a decent start to life at Barcelona having scored a few goals already and having been assigned the penalty duties.

2. Wout Weghorst (€8m: Wolfsburg)

Wolfsburg present an excellent opportunity this season for Fantasy options and may very well turn out to be the dark horses of the tournament. Leading their attack, Weghorst is a technical striker that considers goals as his currency.

With a relatively open group up for taking, the Dutch striker at just €8m presents a decent opportunity to save some money. Further, he has already ticked off his season with 3 goal contributions till now. Weghorst is also on penalty duties for Wolfsburg.

3. Dusan Tadic (€8.5m: Ajax)

Similar to the above two, Tadic is the leading man for Ajax team in a relatively open group and is also on penalty duties. He has also already had 3 attacking contributions in 4 matches and his pairing up top with Haller has been effective for Ajax this season.

Their group comprises of Sporting CP and Besiktas, two teams Ajax will look forward to challenge. The other remaining team is Dortmund, a team not renowned for its defensive prowess.

We have discussed above 15 different players that are a mix of differential players and budget players. The purpose behind these players is not to form a complete team, but to pick a few of these players to fill the last remaining gaps in a half filled team. All Managers should go for at least a couple of top star players to add much needed fire-power to their Fantasy sides.