Champions League is back and we have a few great tournaments to take a look at for todays slate
$20K Bicycle Kick ($20 buyin)
Michael Neuer – Bayern München, $5,400: There aren’t many options for goalkeepers in this slate of games as Real Madrid and Bayern are slated as the largest favorites, Chelsea and PSG is a tough game to pinpoint any true advantage, which immediately relegates that game to GPP category for me, and Porto-Basel is another game that has me leaning towards the away team, but I don’t believe that’s a game that will end with either side failing to score. That said, Neuer is the best option on the day as the choice for an elite keeper falls between Neuer and Casillas, Casillas has been in shaky form lately for the Spanish giants, leaving Neuer and his Bayern brethren in prime position to dominate Shakhtar Donetsk. While the game is “home” for Shakhtar, they aren’t really at home as their home town is in the middle of war-torn Ukraine. Neuer won’t have a chance to make a ton of saves, but he’s going to get the win and probably a clean sheet.
Tomas Vaclik – Basel $4,100: When two even teams face each other I tend to go with the home squad, especially in the dead of winter when a southern team (Porto, in Portugal) travels somewhere further north, (Basel, in the alps). I don’t expect Basel to win handily, I expect the match to be close and for a goal or two to go in, but if Vaclik can make a few saves and if his defense can stop Porto from scoring more than once while securing a win, then Vaclik makes for an excellent GPP play as his price is affordable at $4,100 and the save opportunities will be there.
Other Keepers to consider: Iker Casillas – Real Madrid ($5,500), Petr Cech – Chelsea ($4,800), Fabiano – Porto ($4,800)
Juan Bernat – Bayern München, $4,000: Priced at only $4,000, Bernat makes for an excellent play for the German giants. Bayern is expected to win this game handily as their opponent hasn’t been able to practice for weeks. Moreover, Bernat is playing as a winger in a 3-4-1-2 formation that features him roaming up the left side and supporting the attack for the Germans. In their last match in the Bundesliga, Bayern demolished Hamburg to the tune of 8-0, while Bernat didn’t score or assist in that match, his heat map still shows heavy involvement in the offense. for a cheap price I’ll be using him in a pairing with Neuer some this week.
Marcelo – Real Madrid, $5,400: Marcelo is one of the best full backs in todays slate and he is facing a Schalke 04 team that Madrid defeated last season in the same round 6-1 in Germany. I don’t expect the Spanish side to repeat the dominant 6-1 result this year, as Schalke have a better team and a stronger manager (Roberto Di Mateo) but I do predict that Madrid will dominate possession and that will lead to some Marcelo runs up the left flank that could lead to a few crosses and some potential for chances created that can lead to goals. I also don’t mind going with the other full back for Madrid in Arbeloa ($4,000) or Carvajal ($3,900).
Branislav Ivanovic – Chelsea $4,800: The Chelsea dynamo is superb in creating chances for his teammates and spends the majority of his time roaming the right flank and delivering crosses into the box for his teammates. Chelsea is the better team against this Paris squad, but a win in France will not be easy to achieve. Ivanovic however carries more value than typical defenders as a full back he has a very high floor as an important cog in the Chelsea offense.
Other Defenders to consider: Maxwell – Paris St. Germain ($3,800), Alex Sandro – Porto ($2,800), Dani Carvajal – Real Madrid ($3,900), Rafinha – Bayern München ($3,800), Cesar Azpilicueta – Chelsea ($3,900), David Luiz – Paris St. Germain ($4,300)
Arjen Robben – Bayern München ($9,400) – I wouldn’t fault you for going with Gotze, Lewandowski or Müller as all four have the potential to score in this matchup, however, for my money I’m relying on Robben to deliver the goods. Arjen Robben has taken the most shots in the Bundesliga and has consistently delivered key runs and passes that have guided his team to victory.
Isco – Real Madrid ($4,500) – With the injury to James Rodriguez sidelining the midfielder for a few months, Isco has stepped in as a replacement and will most assuredly start this match. Isco has managed to score a goal in his last game with the club, he was subbed off at the 80th minute, so that is a consideration. At his price tho, if Isco can be as productive as he has been recently then you can count on him reaching value.
Yacine Brahimi – Porto ($8,300) – This pick comes with a risk as this game isn’t played until tomorrow, however, thanks to late swap, we can always switch players out. Brahimi just returned from the AFCON a couple of games ago and he’s already scored for Porto in local Portuguese league last weekend. His form puts him at an advantage and if you’re looking for a contrarian play, Brahimi makes for a great one as his price point is slightly below Hazard, who most will flock to roster, and above stellar mids such as Oscar and Fabregas. Moreover, Brahimi has been playing as a third forward, so rostering him gives you the potential of increasing your chances of securing a goal scoring player.
Other Midfielders to Consider: Eden Hazard – Chelsea ($8,900), Mario Gotze – Bayern München ($9,200), Douglas Costa – Shakhtar Donetsk ($5,800), Luca Zuffi – Basel ($3,000), Cesc Fabregas – Chelsea ($7,200)
Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid ($12,800) – No matter how you feel about the Real Madrid forward, you can’t help but stare in awe at his performances in recent months as he has cemented himself as one of the best forwards to ever play the game. There are few players in the world that are matchup proof, and Ronaldo definitely fits that bill, if you can afford to pay up for him, absolutely you must do so.
Shkelzen Gashi – Basel ($5,100) – With 13 goals in 17 matches, Gashi is leading the Swiss Super League in goals and is borderline must play in this matchup at home to a Porto team. Porto have allowed very few goals this season as they made it through the group stages without defeat and allowing only four total goals. Gashi however is in a good position, and while I will not be using him in all my teams, he’ll be an avenue for salary relief as I attempt to roster one or two high priced players on my team.
Diego Costa – Chelsea ($9,800) – With his price being slightly lower than where it should be, Costa makes a great play for me today as most will shy away from a Chelsea squad that everybody expects to park the bus and try to get away from Paris with a 0-0 draw. I believe that Chelsea may actually want to open up play a bit and take advantage of their superb talent, especially with their superb midfielders like Fabregas, Cuadrado and Hazard. I won’t hesitate to roster Costa either as he’s coming off a few weeks rest in the EPL due to suspension, but should be a full participant in today’s match.
Other Forwards to Consider: Karim Benzema – Real Madrid ($10,500), Thomas Müller – Bayern München ($9,600), Luiz Adriano – Shakhtar Donetsk ($7,500), Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – Schalke 04 ($7,000)