Tuesday’s Champions League slate is very open to all kind of combinations and options to choose from. While there’s not a lot of value to be had at defender and especially goalkeeper, midfielder and forward have multiple teams to focus on and target from. Clean sheets could be pretty scarce.
As you’ll notice, there’s one game I am avoiding almost completely–Chelsea at Porto. It might be an anti the park bus bias, but I can’t see Jose Mourinho playing an open style of play on the road after taking three points in their first group match. Here’s an easy litmus test to see if you want to include anyone from this game, especially from the London-based visitors. If you don’t see Oscar in the starting lineup, that beeping you hear? Bus backing up. I could be surprised and it could be a game full of goals, but I’ll be avoiding guys from both sides in this one–Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, Yacine Brahimi, Vincent Aboubakar all included. Because of Chelsea’s uneven defense this season, maybe Aboubakar because he presents both pace and power issues for Chelsea’s back four–especially if John Terry starts. With that aside, let’s get to the names I have in mind for Tuesday.
Manuel Neuer, $5,600: The chalkiest of calcium carbonate based options on Tuesday, and for good reason. Bayern are at home, one of the best teams in Europe, if not the best, and they’re perhaps the most in form of any team on Tuesday. Bavarians will be strewn throughout this piece, expensive options that they are.
Petr Cech, $5,200: It looks like Cech will stay in the lineup instead of David Ospina; if the latter plays, ownership numbers will be through the roof on the Colombian. If it’s Cech, you have to focus on this: Francis Coquelin is coming off an injury and isn’t likely at 100%, so Arsenal’s back four can be had. There is talent in Olympiakos’ attack. Arsenal desperately needs a win, that’s why Cech is a strong option–the Gunners need to step up and not let the Greek side even in this one.
Yuri Lodygin, $5,100: Another strong home favorite as Zenit hosts Gent in the Ukraine; Lodygin will be underowned as a nice pivot option to Neuer or Roma’s Morgan de Sanctis.
Oleksandr Rybka, $4,600/Predrag Rajkovic, $3,600: There’s relative value on both sides, especially for Rajkovic. Let’s start with him first–he’s a home starter in a pretty even game, and Maccabi is a better team than got blown out at Chelsea. Want a narrative? It’s been 11 years since Maccabi hosted a Champions League group stage game.
Putting that aside. Kiev and Rybka are more in form, having a better domestic campaign, and Kiev drew a strong Porto club at home on Matchday one. But they’re carrying several injuries going into this match.
Bernd Leno, $4,300: Value options at keeper are difficult to find on this slate, so with Messi out perhaps Bayer can take advantage of the instability of the absence? He could be a sacrificial lamb, but Leno is a pretty solid keeper who could get several saves on the evening.
Jordi Alba, $5,300/Dani Alves, $5,000): do I think Barcelona will keep a clean sheet at home against Bayer Leverkusen? The odds have it at around 50%, but Bayer have strong attacking talent. Barcelona should win this one, Messi or not–but my strong like for this duo is more based on how involved they’ll likely be in attack for Barca. But spending up for either will be difficult at defender; they’re more a Flex option, if you can carve enough room elsewhere. Defender, again this week, you want to find that value.
Joao Cancelo, $4,300/Lucas Orban, $3,600: Yes, Lyon are away at Lyon, so this isn’t the kind of matchup we’d normally put backing behind. But both will be involved going forward; Cancelo consistently produces for Valencia and Orban is a bit cheaper at left back in the place of Gaya. I have some doubt in Orban because he might stay at home a bit more than Valencia’s outside backs normally do–but a stack with Cancelo, and even keeper Jaume Demenech is in play.
Christophe Jallet, $3,900: On the other side of this, Jallet (in the place of the injured Rafael at right back) is a pretty strong option, especially at the price tag. Put aside the goal Jallet scored against Gent–he’s had several strong games since then. Lyon might not keep Valencia off the scoresheet, but Jallet could get double digits from this one even before a goal/assist on the scoresheet.
Lucas Digne, $3,800: If you’re going with Digne on Tuesday, there are two main reasons: one, Roma’s at home, and two, Digne has shown consistent production of crosses for his side in domestic play.
Bayern’s Back Four, $4,300-$5,000: Yes, five points from a clean sheet is almost certain for any option in the Bayern defense. Outside backs Philippe Lahm and Juan Bernat just don’t get a lot of crosses because of the team’s style of play. Alaba is pretty proficient at set pieces, but will we get chances to take them amongst his talented teammates?
Aleksdanr Anyukov, $3,700/Igor Smolnikov, $3,600/Domenico Criscito, $3,400: A Zenit “back three” stack at keeper and defender is a relatively cheap option on Tuesday, but keep an eye out for the starting lineup. Reports have Anyukov an injury doubt, meaning Smolnikov starts at right back–but if Anyukov is passed fit, Smolnikov could get a start in midfield. Criscito is only a play if he gets the start out on the left instead of a central defender in a three-man backline.
Miguel Layun, $3,000: Kids, lock and load Layun on Tuesday. Will Porto keep Chelsea off the scoresheet, even at home? Doubtful, despite Chelsea’s uneven play so far this season. But Layun will wrack up the crosses in this one, especially if a) Jose Mourinho plays a more defensively tactical gameplan in this one, and b) Layun is matched up with Branislav Ivanovic–who is playing better than the start of this season, but he can’t keep up with Layun speed wise.
The sub $6K midfielder: to make your lineup work, you will need at least one, if not two, to spend at forward or to squeeze Neuer in goal. From Lyon v. Valencia, you have Mathieu Valbuena ($5,400, Sofiane Feghouli($4,300) or Dani Parejo ($4,200). Lyon’s attack goes through Valbuena as the classical #10, while Feghouli is playing an advanced role in Valencia’s 11 while Parejo takes free kicks and will shoot from distance.
Elsewhere, you have Roma’s Miralem Pjanic ($4,500) against BATE, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ($5,800) for Arsenal (taking Aaron Ramsey’s more advanced role if Coquelin does not play, requiring Ramsey to slide back), and any number of Dynamo Kiev options depending on who is passed fit and starts. One more, based on Porto’s starting lineup. If he starts in the place of Jesus Corona or Christian Tello in Porto’s front three, Andre ($4,800) is a very strong play.
Mesut Ozil, $8,300/Santi Cazorla, $7,500: If Arsenal play to their abilities, they should be able to open up Olympiakos for multiple goals on Tuesday at home. As per usual, it’s the guessting game of who steps up for Arsenal in attack. Neither Cazorla or Ozil have scored this season, but each have multiple assists. But Cazorla should have penalty duty if Arsenal gets the chance, so even in a more deep-lying position I’d choose him over Ozil. Regardless, unless you’re stacking Arsenal players, it’s hard to fit either in your lineup.
Karim Bellarabi, $7,000: Be brave. Ignore Bayer being on the road, Barca as the opponent. They can be unlocked by creative midfielders, like Celta Vigo did a week ago in La Liga. He’ll be low owned, and if Bayer strike, it’s likely he or Hakan Calhanoglu will be at the center of things.
Douglas Costa, $8,000/Mario Gotze, $8,700: A very popular lineup should be one, whomever starts alongside Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller. Costa is the favorite between the two; put aside how much he burned you a couple of weeks ago and understand how good of a matchup this is for Bayern. Also, Arturo Vidal is an interesting pivot play, but for $7,100 his place tactially in the Bayern lineup is a tough price to play.
Thomas Muller, $10,000/Robert Lewandowski, $9,900: Common sense should have this pair as the chalk play at forward instead of any Barca option. At home, against BATE, huge favorites. Not much ore can be said, really, save this–as hot as Lewandowski has been lately, Muller has not scored in the last three for Bayern (one sub appearance, and he was subbed off relatively early this past Saturday in a clear rest move). The damn is going to break very soon. And if by any chance Kingsley Coman starts for Bayern, get him in your lineup. He’s been dynamic in limited playing time for Bayern in league play.
Neymar, $10,500/Luis Suarez, $10,400: The only “positive” about Messi getting hurt this past weekend is that it happened very early in the match against Las Palmas. Suarez scored twice in the win this past weekend, a victory that should have happened with or without Messi. Munir El Haddadi ($5,500) is the likely option alongside the pair, but I can’t see the young attacker doing anything besides trying to set up the other two. He’s a nice entry point into the Barcelona front three, but he’s a playmaker, not a finisher like Messi.
So you’re left (heh) with the other two. Neymar took (and missed) a penalty this past weekend, so there’s that in the positive part of the ledger if you want to go with the Brazilian. If I have to choose between the two, I’m going Suarez. In my opinion, he is the more polished finisher of the pair and should have the more chances on Leno at the Nou Camp.
Hulk, $9,300 The Brazilian had a superb Matchday one for Zenit, but he is dinged up coming into this match. Be wary, but he’s supposed to start and is an excellent play against Gent if he goes. Perhaps a better overall play is his teammate, center forward Artem Dzyuba. The latter is the outright lead striker and is more malleable of a salary if you’re looking at options from Barca and Bayern.
Hakan Calhanoglu, $7,500/Chicharito Hernandez, $7,300/Stefan Kiessling, $6,400: This is another wait and see what lineup is put out at around 1:45pm Eastern group of suggestions. Despite Chicha’s goal on Matchday one, it looks like Kiessling may get the start over the Mexican striker. Or both might start. If there’s just one striker, that means the aforementioned Calhanoglu will be more forward of a role and Bellarabi will more of a wing. If both Hernandez and Kiessling start, Bayer may lineup in more of a 4-2-2-2 with Calhanoglu and Bellarabi in a central role. Calhanoglu takes the penalties for Bayer, that’s a plus for him–but for Kiessling and Hernandez, they’re either boom (score a goal) or bust (a very low floor).
Alvaro Negredo, $6,000/Claudio Beauvue, $6,000/Juan Iturbe, $5,500/Mohammed Salah, $5,200: Here we have our value options for a second striker (if you only play up for one striker) or a Flex play (if you want to spend low elsewhere and load three strikers into your lineup).
Negredo is the likely starter and lead striker for Valencia. Beauvue has outscored his teammate Alex Lacazette three goals to one in league play. Both are affordable in a game with likely goals in it.
The Roma pair of Iturbe and Salah are strong plays at BATE; teammate Gervinho is way too overpriced to fit into your lineup when you can spend more and pick up better options or go lower for savings elsewhere.
Alexis Sanchez, $10,700/Theo Walcott, $7,500: Walcott is a bit too high of a salary to include in the group before this, but that salary and his role in Arsenal’s lineup should see him highly owned. As for Sanchez, his matchup isn’t as easy as the Bayern pair but is pretty positive for him. Between he, Lewandowski, Muller, Neymar and Suarez, Sanchez could be the lowest or next-to-lowest (Muller, because of his cold streak?) percentage of ownership of the quintet. With Messi out, Alexis is the highest priced option and could be a nice contrarian play.