Match days rarely have much on them when you reach the end of the group stage yet there’s plenty to play for top to bottom. Once again Cristiano Ronaldo will be the man to watch but there’s plenty of value to be had elsewhere and the bonus that Astana are actually available to pick players from, if you dig that. Otherwise, read on for plenty of other suggestions.
Lock Of The Day
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid – $10,400 – There are few players in world soccer that enjoy beating down on an inferior opponent than the preening Portuguese film star. Luckily for him the next Champions League fodder to arrive at the Santiago Bernabeu is among the worst teams he’s ever played against. Enter Malmo. Ronaldo showed us what he’s all about against Shakhtar with a 46 point performance and that included plenty of goals, assists and shots. The almost exact same thing happened in Malmo on Matchday two when he scored 41 points thanks to two goals and a massive 12 shots. Ronaldo has scored in his last three games and that pummelling from Barcelona was a wake up call that the whole team desperately needed.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain – $8,500 – Since retiring the entire country of Denmark, Zlatan has been turning it on like only man with god-like powers can do. After a slow start to the season, his last six club games has seen him score six times and lay on another three for his team mates. Shakhtar Donetsk are next in line and ripe for a battering if the past results are anything to go by. The only worry is that the points may go amiss due to the plethora of dangerous attacking options at manager Laurent Blanc’s disposal. Even if Angel Di Maria or Edinson Cavani do outscore him, I still back Zlatan to post at least 20 points thanks to the assists and shots alone.
Worth Your Buck
Angel Di Maria, Paris Saint-Germain – $7,900 – Angel Di Maria is the Bale to Paris Saint Germain’s Ronaldo (Zlatan) and will score points thanks to that reason alone. The Argentine winger-cum-attacking-midfielder has been far more consistent on the points front than the Swedish forward and has two 30+ point performance days already. Di Maria is so attractive as an option due to his ability to post points across a range of categories. With shots, crosses, goals and assists, that season at Manchester United is a distant memory for the tricky attacker.
Nicolas Gaitan, Benfica – $4,700 – Benfica have been off the daily fantasy soccer radar for a good month or so thanks to the Portuguese side playing away in Astana in the previous round. They’re back on home soil for the final matchday of the group stage and Gaitan’s form has the big clubs circling. Fantasy managers are equally as impressed with the number 10 as he is another that is a cross machine. Not only that, Gaitan also scores goals and has had double-digit output on every Champions League game day so far. Benfica need at least a point to top the group and as such Gaitan’s starting berth is assured, as it should be in your lineup.
Kevin de Bruyne, Man City – $5,800 – Even as City attempt to falter on all fronts, de Bruyne has been a lock for daily fantasy football managers and even in a poor loss to Stoke City on Saturday, de Bruyne managed to post nine points. De Bruyne has been playing in his team mates ever since arriving for a huge fee from Wolfsburg and with he has another weapon to play combine with in the returning David Silva. Borussia Monchengladbach at home is by no means a big task and after one game without an assist, De Bruyne will be itching to get things back on track.
Value Play Of The Day
Yevhen Konoplyanka, Sevilla – $5,000 – The one big trend of this UEFA Champions League matchday is the fact that almost every team has something to play for Sevilla at home to Juventus could easily see the Italians come unstuck. If that happens, Konoplyanka will be at the centre of it. The Ukrainian is up there with the very best wingers when it comes to productive crosses and has scored at least 14 fantasy points for the last three matchdays. His value has gone up considerably as a result yet at $5,000 is at low enough point that he justifies a serious look at.
Foxi Kethevoama, FC Astana – $3,300 – Astana players won’t have been in many lineups by virtue of the fact half their games have taken place outside the 2:45 EST start time games. Even so, Kethevoama’s stats provide excellent value. All five games have seen him put up double figures in the points column and playing for Astana is far enough under the radar that most of your opponents won’t have heard of him, let alone picked the bloke. Galatasary is hardly the most difficult of fixtures and Foxi’s looking good for yet another productive week.
Luuk de Jong, PSV Eindhoven – $4,500 – Being top scorer in the Eredivisie doesn’t carry a particular weight to it anymore and de Jong hasn’t lit it up in the Champions League thus far. CSKA Moscow are as inept as they come, however, and de Jong has scored four goals in his last five games coming into the clash. PSV will be through with a win and getting the job done early is expected to be top of the agenda. CSKA’s seven games without a win owes a lot to this and pushes the issue for fantasy managers to select de Jong.
Sleeper Of The Day
Gregory van der Wiel, Paris Saint-Germain – $3,400 – Manager Laurent Blanc gave the Dutch full back only his second Champions League start of the season last time out against Malmo and the double-digit performances keep rolling in. Too attacking for the Real Madrid clashes earlier in the competition, van der Wiel should get another start against poor opposition in Shakhtar Donetsk and get forward throughout thanks to the cover in defensive midfield that allows him to do so. Then it’s down to Zlatan, Cavani and Di Maria to finish the opportunities he creates and you’ll be on for another big week.
David Silva, Manchester City – $6,600 – The pressure is off Manchester City this midweek and Silva’s return to the lineup couldn’t come at a better time. Manager Manuel Pelligrini will want a reaction after the weekend’s pitiful display against Stoke City. Borussia Monchengladbach will be tired after managing to becoming to first side to beat Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga this season and Silva needs to prove the injury hasn’t taken it out of him too much physically. You’d like to think that Wilfried Bony will start putting the ball in the net and he absolutely loves to score from close range and the opportunities provided by Silva will create this for him.
Traps To Avoid
Seydou Doumbia, CSKA Moscow – $4,500 – CSKA have been in atrocious form both domestically and in the Champions League with no win in six straight game. In that time the Moscow club have scored just two goals and regular hitman Seydou Doumbia big drop in form has coincided with that of his club. The Ivorian has had an even worse time of it than his club and hasn’t scored in seven straight games. That extends to nine when you take into account international games. The problem arguably doesn’t lie at the feet of Doumbia. In five games, Doumbia has only had 11 shots in total and for a main striker that is incredibly low. Even if you think Doumbia seems cheap, an away match against a strong PSV Eindhoven is not when his poor run will end.
Kiko Casilla, Real Madrid – $4,200 – Last matchday, Real Madrid pulled off a surprise by picking an almost unknown backup in goal for a game. Entering the 77th minute, the fixture in Donetsk was to all intents and purposes a foregone conclusion at 4-0. Unfortunately, the old adage about it being tough in the former Eastern Bloc came true big style as Casilla let in not one but three goals to the Group A also-rans. Up until that point Casilla had made no saves and ended up with -1 fantasy points despite taking five for the win. Shoiuld manager Rafa Benitez pick him again, it will be the same story in the save column as Malmo won’t put up much of a challenge. This game is an easier one than last week but at such a high price, there’s better chances at more points elsewhere.
Andriy Pyatov, Shakhtar Donetsk – $3,000 – The temptation for many daily fantasy soccer players is to save money on goalkeepers for use elsewhere in the team. This week is no exception, but don’t get drawn into the trap of picking up Shakhtar ‘keeper Andriy Pyatov. Paris Saint-Germain away seems like the perfect opportunity to pick up plenty of saves, however, the game at Real Madrid earlier in the competition shows you all you need to know. Even though he made five saves, the four goals conceded meant he was down at just two points and the only time Pyatov hit the double figures including a lucrative penalty save against Malmo on October 21. It’s hard to think that it won’t be the same case here.