Blink and you might have missed it. The UEFA Champions League leaves us for its winter break following the games on December 9 and one thing is for certain this matchday: Lionel Messi is back and scoring goals. For some teams it will be the last time we see them until next season yet there is plenty to play for. Some big fish (Arsenal and Chelsea) are on edge and worried whether they’ll even qualify with plenty of teams likely to go gung-ho in the hope they go through. Music to the ear’s of daily fantasy football users? Of course!
Lock Of The Day
Luis Suarez, Barcelona – $9,000 – You might hate the Uruguayan biter. There’s no doubting his ability though. Luis Suarez has been on fire so far this season with 18 goals and five assists across just 18 La Liga and Champions League games combined. Even so, Bayer Leverkusen doesn’t represent the easiest of tasks and Barcelona have nothing to play for as they have already won the group. That’s all before you consider that Lionel Messi has just returned from injury and Barca’s three stars are aligning at just the right time. Suarez will be the biggest recipient of this.
Lionel Messi, Barcelona – $10,200 – Since returning from injury, Messi already has two goals in four games and it’s like he was never away. Messi brings plenty of weapons to Barcelona’s extensive arsenal and the best one from a daily fantasy soccer point of view is the amount of shots he gets in. Messi averages 5.2 shots per game in La Liga and that isn’t all. In his two Champions League game this season he has a staggering eight shots per game. The only man with a better record than that is Cristiano Ronaldo (8.2 shots per game) and it’s hardly a surprise when you consider that Neymar and Luis Suarez are providing the ammunition. The only thing that counts against the little lad is that whopping $10,200 price tag. BudgetKings, your challenge is set.
Worth Your Buck
Mesut Ozil, Arsenal – $6,300 – No player has assisted more goals in the top European leagues this season than Mesut Özil with 12. In comparison, the Champions League has been a harder nut to crack. Arsenal go into this game needing to win by any result that doesn’t read 1-0 or 2-1. It’s a tough ask due to the amount of injuries the Gunners are carrying and it would be so very Arsenal for them to balls it up. Alexis Sanchez, far and away Arsenal’s best player in continental games this season, is out and it will be up to Özil to fill the void. If he gets close to the 4.5 key passes per game he averages in the Premier League, Arsenal will advance to the last 16.
Thomas Muller, Bayern Munich – $7,700 – The man that brought the word Raumdeuter into common lexicon (you didn’t know that word, did you?!) looks ready for yet another big performance against Dinamo Zagreb. Thomas Muller has 18 goals and two assists in all competitions so far this season and in just four Champions League games has scored five goals. A Raumdeuter is characterised by his ability to be in the right place at the right time, meaning Douglas Costa can put the ball wherever he wants, safe in the knowledge that Muller will be there.
Hulk, Zenit St Petersburg – $7,500 – Being a man of beastly proportions, Hulk has been unstoppable in what is a particularly average Champions League group. The fact that Zenit are the only team with a 100% record in the Champions League this season owes much to this and an away fixture at Gent will see Hulk, once again, put up big numbers. The Brazilian is not afraid to take players on and has averaged 5.6 dribbles per game, third behind just Yacine Brahimi (6.8) and Alexis Sanchez (6.4). The 3.4 shots per game and 2.8 key passes per game show a great balance thus adding fuel to the fire that his excellent decision making means goals and assists are both very possible.
Value Play Of The Day
Kingsley Coman, Bayern Munich – $5,000 – Value picks are not the order of the day at the Allianz Arena, ever. This makes it all the weirder that, for the second Champions League week running, Kingsley Coman comes in at the cheap end of the market. Playing out wide, Coman’s performances, although good, are being embellished by the sheer number of ridiculously good attacking players Bayern possess. The fact he scores double digit points most weeks in the Champions League is all users need worry about. Coman does play his part and the 2.5 key passes per game guarantees that the cheap points will come flooding in.
Danijel Milicevic, KAA Gent – $3,700 – Belgian sides rarely make it past the group stages of the Champions League and KAA Gent are looking to buck the trend with a win. Danijel Milicevic is the most potent attacking option at Gent’s disposal and creates plenty of chances. 3.4 crosses per game is the highest of any player in this season’s Champions League group stage and the chances of an assist are raised by this plus his 2.4 key passes per game.
Miralem Pjanic, Roma – $5,000 Roma need to win to qualify and the biggest contributor to any win will be Miralem Pjanic as he leads the team in shots per game (2.5), key passes per game (2) and crosses per game (1.5). Anything good that Roma produce tends to flow through the Bosnia and Herzegovina playmaker and a favorable matchup makes him a must pick. Nine goals and six assists in 17 games in all competitions is an excellent return for a central midfielder and a game at home to Bate Borisov is a straightforward task.
Sleeper Of The Day
Andriy Yarmolenko, Dynamo Kyiv – $4,800 – I’d go so far as to say Andriy Yarmolenko has been the sleeper of the whole group stage, let alone this matchday. Listed as a forward, the Ukrainian is almost always around the $5,000 mark and is a point factory. His league form, which has included 13 goals and eight assists in 21 games, has carried over into the Champions League and he enjoyed a 26-point day against Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel earlier in the competition. Put simply, Dynamo Kyiv need something from this game and the right winger is their best chance.
Eran Zahavi, Maccabi Tel Aviv – $4,000 – Maccabi Tel Aviv may be the weakest team in the Champions League group stage but Eran Zahavi has been turning in performances of note throughout. The one-man team nature of the Israeli side is illustrated by the fact that Zahavi has had 4.2 shots per game and sits in fifth amongst all players in this regard. Kyiv represents the easiest test in a tough group and should be enough for the midfielder to double his goal tally for this year’s tournament.
Traps To Avoid
Diego Costa, Chelsea – $7,000 – To some I’ll sound like a broken record. To anyone that watched Chelsea lose at home to Bournemouth on Saturday, I’ll sound completely sane. Diego Costa is being used very sparingly by manager Jose Mourinho right now and, despite a goal against Maccabi Tel Aviv on the last matchday, remains a big risk at such an inflated price. The Spaniard is getting nowhere near as many opportunities to score compared to last season. In 2014/15, Costa was averaging 2.9 shots per game in both the Champions League and Premier League. This season those numbers are 2.2 for the Champions League and just 2 in the Premier League. With less opportunities to score, the points potential almost completely evaporates for Costa.
Oleksandr Shovkovskiy, Dynamo Kyiv – $4,200 – Picking up Dynamo Kyiv’s goalkeeper has been very handy for a lot of daily fantasy soccer fans so far this season yet this week he is overpriced and unlikely to make many saves. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Maccabi Tel Aviv grab a goal and the risk that a clean sheet disappears combined with the lack of saves pushes his point potential below 10.