UCL Targets: March 7/8

There are four decisive second leg fixtures this midweek, and after the fireworks that accompanied the first legs, expect anything. The following article goes through each position and points out the players to consider at both ends of the market.

GOALKEEPER

STUD

Roman Burki – ($5,800) – Dortmund – Borussia Dortmund are quite simply one of those sides you don’t want to face on their own patch. Die Schwarzgelben are yet to lose at home this season thus making Burki’s fantasy scoring prospects look very good indeed. A win looks likely, and no one else looks better placed for a clean sheet than Burki.

VALUE

David Ospina – ($4,500) – Arsenal – Arsenal’s 5-1 capitulation at the hands of Bayern Munich in the first leg was tough. As history has shown, with the pressure off, Arsenal tend to perform in the second leg, and it would be no surprise to see them win here. Bayern have won only three of the last 13 away games in Europe, and Ospina, who made six saves and secured an unlikely four fantasy points in the first leg, will benefit from all that. At a price this low, he’s my top option at the low end.


DEFENDER

STUDS

Faouzi Ghoulam – ($5,000) – Napoli – In the Champions League this season, Ghoulam has three assists in seven games and has averaged a rather ludicrous 9.1 crosses per game. That average increases to 12.4 crosses per game at home. Considering Napoli need to score two goals to even draw level on aggregate, expect them to come out of the blocks early and utilise the width offered by Ghoulam. Simply put, I don’t think another defender has a better floor than Ghoulam on this slate.

Dani Carvajal – ($4,500) – Real Madrid – There is very little at the top of the defender pool that looks tempting to me. Carvajal supplied an absolute beauty of the assist in the first leg and is averaging 9.25 FPPG in the four fixtures since then. The Spaniard already has three assists in continental games this season and also averages 2.3 tackles and 2.7 interceptions across three UCL away games. Add in 2.9 crosses per match and he has as solid a floor as anyone else around this price.

VALUE

Nelsinho – ($4,100) – Benfica – Nelsinho was part of a Benfica defence that kept the Dortmund scoring juggernaut at bay in the first leg and they will likely be busy in the second leg. That won’t trouble Nelsinho at all, his 2.7 tackles per game in UCL play showing that he thrives in that kind of hectic situation. I wouldn’t rely on him getting a clean sheet; however, his performance in other categories could see Nelsinho just-about top 10pts.


MIDFIELDER

STUDS

Lionel Messi – ($11,400) – Barcelona – Messi has been on a mission since the 4-0 defeat to PSG, notching six goals and three assists in four games. Those recent performances have been worth a huge 31 FPPG over that period. His 10 goals in the Champions League is more than anyone else, seven of them coming at the Nou Camp where Barca have won all three UCL fixtures by a score of 15-0. It’s hard to pick against Messi on any match day, and this one is no exception.

Ousmane Dembele – ($7,700) – Dortmund – Dembele is one of the best assist merchants in Europe and picked up his ninth of the season in the 6-2 rout of Leverkusen on Saturday evening. The 19-year-old managed 11 fantasy points in the first leg loss to Benfica and has 12 FPPG in the Champions League this season. Dembele’s five assists in the UCL is a number only bettered by Neymar (seven assists) and equalled by Cristiano Ronaldo, and he will likely be a big part of Dortmund’s attacking effort in the second leg.

VALUES

Dries Mertens – ($7,500) – Napoli – Mertens is one of a number of Napoli players to benefit from the departure of Gonzalo Higuain. The Belgian is on fire this season, scoring 22 goals and 11 assists for his best campaign in Naples by a country mile. Mertens has been on a remarkable run since mid-December, scoring three hat tricks in that time and has 17.2 FPPG. Napoli have lost just once in the last 20 European home games and Mertens’ price is great value in my opinion.

Thiago Alcantara – ($5,600) – Bayern Munich – Alcantara did an absolute job on Arsenal in the first leg, scoring twice and ending the night on 35.75 fantasy points. Thiago averages 3.2 tackles and 2.3 interceptions in the tournament this season and is as comfortable playing in front of the back four as he is supporting the front man as a number 10. Throw in the fact that he often takes corners, and I think Thiago is a genuine bargain at this price.


FORWARD

STUDS

Cristiano Ronaldo – ($10,700) – Real Madrid – Ronaldo now has a goal or an assist in seven of the last eight games (seven goals and two assists) including a late brace against Las Palmas last Wednesday. The forward has scored more times away (12 goals) than at home (nine goals) across EPL and UCL play, and averages 5.1 shots per game — the highest of any player in the Champions League. Whilst I think Messi is a better pick on this slate, Ronaldo is the contrarian one of the two.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang – ($8,500) – Dortmund – Aubamayeng has rediscovered his scoring boots the last two weeks, grabbing four goals in the consecutive wins over Freiburg and Leverkusen. It means he has passed Robert Lewandowski atop the Bundesliga scoring charts, and the Gabon international has 21 goals thus far. It’s tough to go against him at just $8,500.

VALUES

Alexis Sanchez – ($7,900) – Arsenal – If Arsenal are to get anywhere near the quarter finals, Alexis will need to be at his best. The good news is that he has been at that level all season, and, despite the fact he was benched for the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool, he still managed an assist. The Chilean averages 15.5 FPPG across 40 games this campaign and already has three goals and three assists in the Champions League in 2016-17. If you expect Arsenal to do the usual and win by a meaningless two to three goals then you considering Sanchez makes sense.

Edinson Cavani – ($6,700) – Paris Saint Germain – Only Messi has more than Cavani’s six goals in the Champions League this season, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg where his scoring exploits are concerned. The Uruguayan also has 27 goals in 26 Ligue 1 appearances and has only failed to score once in the last 10 appearances in all competitions. Add in that he averages 4.3 shots per game in the Champions League and you realise just good value he is at just $6,700.