Getting towards the business end of the Champions League Group Stage we’ve gone big on South Americans because…well…they’re really bloody good. There’s plenty to be decided this week and teams fighting for their lives means that goals are a given and the cross count will also be up there. So stack up on your Barcelona defenders and chuck in some sleepers to be on top of your league.
Lock Of The Day
Neymar, Barcelona – $8,700 – With Lionel Messi returning as a substitute in Barcelona’s 4-0 demolition of Real Madrid on Saturday, we will soon be back to all three of Catalan side’s big guns sharing out the goals and assists between them. Until Messi is fully fit to start, Neymar is a must pick. The Brazilian almost topped 50 points against BATE Borisov last time out and Neymar is so strong due to the fact he brings, shots, crosses, assists and goals to the table every week.
Douglas Costa, Bayern Munich – $6,900 – Bayern Munich steam-rolled through Arsenal to advance to the knockout stages and Pep won’t want any complacency here. The little Brazilian has been enjoying himself since arriving from Shakhtar Donetsk this summer and brings a similar combo meal of shots, crosses, assists and goals to Bayern’s elite drive-thru menu.
Worth Your Buck
Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal – $7,800 – Without wanting to state the absolute obvious, Arsenal need to win to take this group to the final winner-takes-it-all game at Olympiakos. Granted, Arsenal did lose to Dinamo Zagreb earlier in the group stage but there should be no repeat here. Sanchez remains Arsenal’s most explosive threat going forwards and he has the chance to put up some big numbers here. This also goes a long way to explaining why his salary is so high this week. Even knowing this, he’s likely a lock to put up some good numbers.
Willian, Chelsea – $5,200 – Chelsea have, for want of a better word, been garbage so far this season. The only player to fall in that stuff and emerge smelling of roses is Willian. Jose Mourinho shouldn’t be sweating a game against Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Willian is the reason why. Any time Chelsea are given a free kick on the fringes of the 18-yard box the Brazilian looks like scoring and he’s also a big factor in the cross column.
Vincent Aboubakar, FC Porto – $6,300 – Porto are still unbeaten in all competitions this season and can tie up qualification for the knockout stage with a home win against Dynamo Kyiv. The Portuguese club also hasn’t lost a home game since late 2014. Aboubakar is their talisman and should notch at least once against the Ukrainian team since he already has three goals in the Champions League this season. For that reason, he represents a compelling choice.
Value Play Of The Day
Miralem Pjanic, Roma – $3,900 – Be patient with me here. Yes, Barcelona are in imperious form and I realise Roma probably don’t stand a chance. But, Miralem Pjanic is only $3,900 and is in the form of his life that has seen him notch five goals and five assists in Serie A plus a pair of goals and an assist in the Champions League. Roma are one of those quirky teams that often run the big gun’s close before succumbing in the final minutes. If that happens, Pjanic will be at the heart of it all.
Kieran Gibbs, Arsenal – $2,700 – Ever since everyone started talking up Arsene Wenger’s side as a possible title contender the little men started getting all scared and picking up injuries. That means Gibbsy is in line to start at full back or even on the wing and looks very good value at $2,700. Chances of both a clean sheet and plenty of crosses are higher than the possibility of another Arsenal player getting injured (i.e. very high). Gibbs also won’t be particularly highly owned. Though with Hector Bellerin back in the starting XI last Saturday, remember to check back before kick off to see that Gibbs starts.
Eran Zahavi, Maccabi Tel Aviv – $3,900 – Zahavi has been a revelation in this season’s Champions League and seems to particularly enjoy himself at home in Israel. As we alluded to earlier, Chelsea have been terrible this season and don’t keep clean sheets away from home. Granted, it’s risky taking a Maccabi Tel Aviv player, but Zahavi will be involved if they manage the fairly easy task of slotting the ball past Chelsea ‘keeper Asmir Begovic.
Sleeper Of The Day
Kingsley Coman, Bayern Munich – $4,400- Bayern Munich’s deck is stacked with attackers that score fantasy points as if they’re going out of fashion. One that bubbles under the radar is Kingsley Coman. Since arriving from Juventus in the summer, the teenager has been quietly impressing and his anticipated low ownership against the likes of Douglas Costa, Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski gives him good sleeper potential. Coman has scored double-digit points in the three Champions League games he’s played and the only thing to do is remember to check back at game time to make sure he’s starting.
Andriy Yarmolenko, Dynamo Kyiv – $4,200 – Dynamo Kyiv are fighting for their lives in this group and to try and stave off elimination you can expect Yarmolenko to pepper the Porto defence with crosses. That’s not all there is to Yarmolenko. He also has six goals in 13 games in the Ukrainian league this season and any success Dynamo Kyiv enjoy in Portugal will go through the winger.
Traps To Avoid
Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich – $4,600 – Bayern are up there among the best sides in Europe and that means Neuer rarely gets to touch the ball let alone post up big numbers in the save column. More often than not, the German stopper does get the points for a win but when Bayern are four or five goals to the good they often concede. For the money he costs, there are plenty of better options out there.
Diego Costa, Chelsea – $7,200 – Chelsea’s form has yet to recover to a level that makes recommending anyone but Willian a sensible thing to do and Diego Costa is currently one of the most over-priced players as a result. The forward has failed to fire, save one game against a pitiful West Brom side and another against Norwich, and looks like a tantruming kid when set against Diego Costa v.2014-2015. Granted, he did score on Saturday against Norwich but the Champions League is very different to scoring against two of the Premier League’s lesser lights.