The Champions League matchday 5 gets underway today with several key and pivotal matchups that could define who manages to make it to the knockout stages, who gets to continue their European campaign in the Europa League, and which teams go home empty handed. Of course there are some teams, such as Bayern Munich that have already clinched first place in their groups, and there are some teams, such as Apoel Nicosia that only have hope to make it to the Europe League, but they’ll face Barcelona today and will likely be bowing out after this game is over. Either way, lets have a look at the picks for today’s games. Remember to monitor twitter for starting lineups about 2 hours before lineups lock to make sure you don’t start anybody who’s not playing. As always, if you have questions, you can contact me on twitter @DFS_Hambazaza and I’ll do my best to answer any and all questions.
Andriy Pyatov – Shakhtar Donetsk. Priced at $5,000 you’ll have to pay up to get any of the goalkeepers favored in today’s matchups, as Pyatov comes in having conceded only two goals in four matches in this competition. The last time he faced Athletic Bilbao on the road, the team came away with a 0-0 draw, and since then, Pyatov watched as his team comfortably hammered BATE Borisov by a combined two game score of 12-0. Shakhtar needs a win in this match to guarantee a knock-out stage advancement in this competition, I like their chances at guaranteeing the win and a clean sheet.
Rui Patricio – Sporting Lisbon, Playing at home against an opponent in Maribor that has overachieved, I believe that Sporting will get all three points as well as the clean sheet in this matchup. While it is always hard to predict, Patricio, at his price tag ($5,200) is expensive, but he’s going to be a differentiation play from Ter Stegen and Sirigu that have the best odds to win and are slightly more expensive. There really aren’t any safe value goalkeepers in today’s slate as all the heavy favorites are priced at higher than $5K.
Ralf Fahrmann – Schalke 04, If you want to take a chance on an underdog that is cheap, but still has a chance to put up a good performance, I’d look at Ralf Fahrmann. This pick comes with some serious doubts however, as his opponent on the other end is none other than Chelsea and Diego Costa’s right foot. In fact, he’s also going to be facing Diego Costa’s left foot as well. Fahrmann is playing at home and his team have a chance to move into top spot in the group and put Chelsea on the brink of not qualifying to the group stages and settling for Europa League. I believe that Chelsea will come out firing in this one, but Fahrmann is a good enough keeper to collect some saves that might offset any goals he could conceive. At the price tag of $4,200, I would consider him heavily if I wanted to get a chance to roster a stud or two in my lineup in today’s slate.
Other Keepers I like: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (Barcelona), Michael Neuer (Bayern Munich), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Gorka Iraizoz (Athletic Bilbao, GPP).
This will be a day where you will want to stack defenders to go along with the goalkeepers. There are a couple of elite plays and I will highlight them here, but for the most part, whoever you choose for the keeper position, try to get at least one full back to go along with him
Dani Alves – Barcelona, He’s as consistent as they get, but you’ll have to pay up for him once more. At $5,200 he will provide double digit points, and with Barcelona looking for a clean sheet that they haven’t had in a couple of weeks in the local Spanish league, Alves will be looked upon to provide some quality defending as well as some attacking for the visitors in this one.
Serge Aurier – Paris Saint Germain, He’s been the consistent starter for the French champions in the French league and looks to be getting the start this week in Europe. He’s priced at 3.3K, but he’s been getting crosses and touches in the final third which should prove to be vital in his ability to provide offense for this team. He’s a decently cheap option should you choose to go that route.
Jonathan Silva – Sporting Lisbon, Speaking of cheap option, he’s priced at the minimum of $2,000 and he is expected to start at full back for Sporting at home where they are favored to beat Maribor handily. Silva isn’t exactly going to rush up and down the field and provide crosses (Sporting have been a team that attacks down the middle) but he has as good a chance as any for a clean sheet bonus which would more than make up for his minimum price tag.
Other Defenders I like: Cedric Soares (Sporting Lisbon), Juan Bernat (Bayern Munich), Gael Clichy (Manchester City), Vyacheslav Shevchuk (Shakhtar Donetsk), Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk), Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)
David Silva – Manchester City, He’s being rushed back to play in this must win match. He’s priced at $7,200 and City are in desperate need for a win here in order to avoid a complete failure of an European campaign. Silva is one of the best options today as if he starts then he will be getting plenty of supply as I expect City to keep the pressure on Bayern’s fantastic defense. Ultimately, I don’t believe that city will prevail as winners in this matchup, however, I do believe that the pressure will be there and whether or not they manage to beat a very excellent keeper will decide some GPPs today. Silva however, is my pick to get his no matter what the final score ends up saying.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea, Spending a little bit at midfield has proven to be helpful at times if the guy you’re spending on actually comes through with a goal or a couple of assists. Chelsea are away favorites and they face a team that will give them some trouble. However, Schalke 04 are a team that commits a decent number of fouls per game and with Hazard ($9,500) being the main penalty kick taker for English leaders, Hazard might have himself a goal gifted to him in what is bound to be a hotly contested matchup.
Adrien Silva – Sporting Lisbon, The second Silva on the Portuguese team plays in the midfield and faces a team that should be over-matched in this game. Silva has a couple of goals to his name so far this campaign, however he’s a threat offensively and is overdue for an assist. I believe this is a game that he comes through with that promise. Also, priced at $5,200 should give you some value in order to roster some of the more expensive pieces on the board today.
Alex Teixeira, Douglas Costa, Taison – Shakhtar Donetsk, The trio midfielders for Shakhtar come in at varying prices with Teixeira being the most expensive. With a goal in his last three games in the UCL he’s a bit overpriced as I doubt the goal scoring will continue every game. Douglas Costa at $6,100 is the most likely to produce points without scoring a goal which gives him a high floor, and with Shakhtar being the most prolific offense in the UCL so far, he has a high ceiling as well as the Ukranian side is playing at “home” and will look to guarantee themselves a spot in the final 16 of the competition.
Other Midfielders I like – Oscar (Chelsea), Samir Nasri (Manchester City), Javier Pastore (PSG), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Xavi (Barcelona), Joao Mario (Sporting Lisbon, min price)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Paris Saint Germain, He’s back in full strength now and will play in his first game in the champions league since September against this same Ajax team. He hasn’t found his goal scoring touch yet, and at $11,700 he’s a pure GPP pick as there is no guarantee that he’s going to find that touch this game. He will however want to get back in goal scoring shape before the final matchup of the group stages where PSG will face his old team Barcelona and Ibrahimovic, who’s desire for the dramatic has always been unequalled, will have all the narratives in his favor for that matchup.
Islam Slimani – Sporting Lisbon, Again we’re back to Sporting Lisbon and their matchup with Maribor. I am not fond of Maribor and what they can do “defensively” on the road. I believe the Algerian forward will notch his second straight goal in the Champions League this time out and priced at $6,200 would be another cheap option that can assist you in rostering one of the high priced forwards.
Luis Suarez – Barcelona, While Suarez has added extra “bite” to the Barcelona offense, he still has not managed to score for his team. He has however provided three assists in the last two games and given his teammates reason to celebrate his regained form. Priced at $9,700 you might find yourself making a choice of which Barca forward to roster, and given his price and his upwards trending performance, I would consider him to be the heavy favorite in that competition.
Diego Costa – Chelsea, Chelsea is desperate for a win in this matchup and Costa just notched a goal. He’s expensive but he has as good a chance as anybody else for a multi-goal game. If you can afford it, do it.
Lionel Messi – Barcelona, He’s also expensive, very expensive. He’s in a battle with Ronaldo for the top goal scorer in Champions League of all time and he will want to prove to open up a gap before his contemporary gets to play tomorrow. Messi is the top option on the board every time he takes the field simply because of his skill and adeptness at finding the back of the net.
Thomas Muller, Sergio Aguero – Bayern Munich, Manchester City, These two will be facing each other (on opposite ends of the pitch) and they will both want to score. Muller wants to cement his sides’ place as the top squad in this tournament, and Aguero just wants to give the Sky Blues a fighting chance at qualifying to the next stage of the competition. Nothing gives more motivation to strikers than facing another great striker. I believe that both of these men can score goals today.
Luiz Adriano, Shakhtar Donetsk – His price has gone up, and while I doubt he’s going to keep scoring 40+ fantasy points every time he takes the field, it’s going to be tough to envision him not reaching double digit points at least therefore, I have to mention him here.
Good luck in all your games today!