UCL Fantasy – Teams to pick/Avoid
It is that time of the year again and UEFA Champions League is back. With football, comes fantasy football. In this article, we discuss the top teams to target for the UEFA CL Fantasy football. We shall also discuss the teams that may not be able to perform as per the expectations. Managers will be able to build their entire 15 member teams from the below mentioned teams depending on their overall strategy and preferences.
To understand the UEFA CL Fantasy better, read our article on the rules here.
TIER – I (To have 2 or even 3 players)
Teams in this Tier will be expected to not lose in the group stage and may even win all 6 matches. Therefore, having fantasy assets from teams that are almost guaranteed to win becomes automatically promising. Some teams win on the basis of their attack, while some win on the back of their defence, while others have a balanced and all round perfection in the team.
It is important to have at least a couple of players from these teams, while some Managers may even go to the extent of choosing the maximum limit of 3 players from these teams.
1. Borussia Dortmund
The team wasn’t supposed to be in this year’s UEFA Champions League as they were trailing in the top four race in the Bundesliga till the last phase of the competition. However, brilliant work by Assistant Manager Edin Terzić, who was promoted to the Manager role after sacking of Lucien Favre mid-season. Interestingly, Dortmund won 9 straight games in German football after defeat to Frankfurt in early April, winning the DFB-Pokal Cup and finishing third in the Bundesliga.
This season, Dortmund under new manager Marco Rose, the team has started where it left off last season three wins in four, with 13 goals scored. The attacking prowess of Dortmund has been very visible, just like their faulty defence lines. For Fantasy Football therefore, their attack offers much more value than their defence.
The biggest factor in naming Borussia Dortmund as the number 1 team to target is the Champions League they have been drawn into. They will face the trio of Ajax, Besiktas and Sporting CP. These teams, within their own rights are top teams with decent performances at both ends of the pitch. But if any top team with aspirations of knockout phase wants a group, it will be with these three teams in Group – C. The Dortmund midfields and forwards will be easy set and forgets for all of group stages.
2. Chelsea FC
Who but the defending champions? Things have turned miraculously at Stamford Bridge ever since the arrival of the tactically astute Thomas Tuchel. The German has initiated a revival that has made Chelsea a resurgent force to beware of. In this resurgence, Chelsea rarely concede any goals, and became the record best defensive side to win the Champions League last season. The status quo has been maintained and Chelsea have already collected 3 clean sheets in the opening 4 fixtures of the Premier League, with an exception of conceding a penalty, while playing 45 minutes with 10 men against Liverpool.
Chelsea have been handed an easy start to the UEFA Champions League with a relatively easier group. Juventus, Malmo and Zenit hardly look like teams that will be able to test the Chelsea defence, especially with the current turmoil situation at a CR7 less Juventus.
Chelsea defence will therefore will be a must get for any Manager in the UEFA CL Fantasy. Some might even pick two players for doubling the almost guaranteed Chelsea clean sheet points.
3. Bayern Munich
The Germans have become impeccable with yet another domestic title, their 30th in total and 9th consecutive one. This year, Bayern have already started their quest for a record 10th consecutive title with 3 wins a draw in 4 Bundesliga matches. Munich thumped RB Leipzig by 4-1 this weekend to establish their ambitions for the season.
Under new Manager Julian Nagelsmann and improved squad, Bayern will be looking for a perfect UCL campaign with a manageable group with only Barcelona being a team to beat. After all that happened at Camp Nou over the summer, matches against them will not pose much threat to the Champions League run for the Bavarians. Other two teams in their group are Benfica and Dynamo Kyiv.
Bayern Munich players can be taken from all around the team with defence, midfield and attack, all offering good value.
TIER – II (To have 1 or even 2 players)
These teams have a mix of performance and fixtures on their side, but neither of the factors are overwhelmingly in their favour, unlike the teams listed in Tier – I. Therefore, having a player each from these teams will be a good balance between risk and reward. However, a Manager may even call for multiple players from these teams depending on overall strategy and budget.
1. Manchester United
Manchester United had an up and down season last year, however, they managed to finish 2nd in the Premier League under manager Ole Gunnar. After another summer of heavy spending with the likes of Raphaël Varane, Jadon Sancho and the prodigal son, Cristiano Ronaldo. All 3 of them add much needed Champions League quality experience directly in the starting XI, with the Real Madrid duo having won in countless times already.
United have however, against started slow with a draw against Southampton and a lucky escape against Wolves, showcasing that the team is far from perfect. With the group comprising of Atlanta, Villarreal and Young Boys, Man United may concede a goal or two in the group stages, especially against Atlanta, who are a notoriously good attacking side. Therefore, an attacking United asset shall make the best sense in the current circumstances.
Sevilla are in one of the most balanced groups, but they hold an edge over the other teams with wealth of experience and talent at their disposal. Having finished an impressive 4th in the previous season and having advanced in the previous group stage (20/21 season) with 4 wins in a group with Chelsea, they certainly hold all the cards this season.
They belong with Vfl Wolfsburg, LOSC Lille and RB Salzburg in Group G this season. While Sevilla don’t boast of the best attack in Europe (by far), of these teams, only Wolfsburg boast a defensive capability of the level of Sevilla, whereas Lille and Salzburg fall much short of the level required. On the other hand, Salzburg are an attacking team that threaten to score against every team they play.
The choice of a fantasy asset from Sevilla therefore can be from either side of the pitch depending on the budget and the strategy of the Manager.
3. Vfl Wolfsburg
All aspects discussed for Sevilla stand true for Wolfsburg as well. The team has had a meteoric rise after finishing 16th in the 17/18 season, to two upper mid table finishes in the 18-20 period, and finally breaking the ceiling with a UCL qualification in the 20/21 season.
They have started with the new manager Mark van Bommel exactly where they left off with the previous manager Oliver Glasner. Wolfsburg have won 4 matches in 4 Bundesliga games this year having conceded just a single goal in the process.
They therefore require similar respect as afforded to Sevilla. Wolfsburg offer tremendous value at the back, with decent prospects in the midfield and attack too.
TIER – AVOID
Hereby, we lists teams that should be avoided going into the group stages of the UEFA CL Fantasy. This analysis is not based on form and fixture, but also the fact that Fantasy Football provides you a limited budget and a limited number of squad players. A Manager has to maximize the points they can get in the limited time, and therefore, sticking with the probabilities makes sense to a large extent.
The Reds are a fantasy fan favourite, and rightly so. The attacking principles of Jurgen Klopp put up a great show with multiple members of the squad bombing forward and trying to put the ball in the net as many times as possible.
However, a word of caution is necessary. Despite all the attacking qualities of Liverpool, the opposition they face are notoriously tight defences and heavy to beat at the back. Their group comprises of Porto, Milan and Atheleti, who are all astute sides in their own respect with defence being their stand out factor.
Liverpool attackers shall be available at a premium, and while Liverpool may actually win all of the matches in the group, the wins might be low scoring, and not worth the premium costs.
2. PSG/Leipzig/Man City
The group is tough. Although the winners of the group are obvious, the manner and measurement of victory are not. The three will most likely beat Club Brugge home and away, but the results between these three cannot, and should not be predicted.
Moreover, Man City and PSG are royalty sides with high priced players all around the field. Some are even not guaranteed to start, despite commanding premium prices.
It is not fun kicking someone who’s laying with their back on the ground. But the reality is, Juventus are in a bad situation right now, and will remain to be for some time at least. Two fixtures against Chelsea can be written off already and therefore, any slip ups against FC Zenit and Malmo FF will prove to be very costly. Moreover, these two clubs will be high on motivation to test themselves against Juventus, who are, after a long time, in the ‘beatable’ category.
The pricing of players in the Fantasy game surely does not give any reason to be picking Juventus, who have no certainty in the game as of today.