The UEFA Champions League (UCL) is shrouded in mystery and intrigue to American eyes. And now it has unleashed itself in a maelstrom of speed and flash assaulting the soccer arenas of Europe. Our shores are safe from this organized blood-sport, but not our daily fantasy leagues here at Draftkings.
This week, a timely round of the UCL has kicked off. Draftkings has a few leagues focused on these contests – as they regularly do.
You might recognize a few players competing in these matches from Nike commercials. Ronaldo. Zlatan. You might recognize the clubs competing, also from Nike commercials. Arsenal. Real Madrid. Borussia Dortmund. Bayern Munich. Juventus. Manchester City.
Psst! These are the big boys of international club soccer.
You’ve read this far so you’re interested in this little competition. Excellent, my plan is working perfectly.
The UCL (no, not the ligament) traces it history back to a time before time. When giants roamed the earth. 1955. Okay that was hyperbole, but you’re still reading. It was known then as the European’s Cup, but since 1992 it has emerged at the UEFA Champions League.
Real Madrid is the current UCL champion. They’ve won it ten times. Consider them the Green Bay Packers of European football – if that’s a good way to relate your brain to it.
Each year the challengers for the cup are chosen based on qualification rounds steeped in particular countries strength of football clubs. Think secret tournaments similar to the plot of Beerfest. No, not really. It’s a complicated qualifying rubric based on strength of the clubs home country league and numbers and math and lots of other scary things. Frankly, only the best get invited and those that are invited are the best of the best.
Now, I’m going to hit you with some statistics all courtesy of UEFA.com. Don’t worry, I can’t really hit you; the judge won’t allow it.
Cristiano Ronaldo has 17 goals in the current UCL season. That’s a lot. He plays for Real Madrid. Luiz Adriano averages 1.5 goals per match and plays for a Ukrainian team that is known to be pretty good. Impressive, most impressive. This season there have been 281 goals scored, so far. That’s a lot.
The UCL is also a big chance for the clubs in it to make some scratch. The winner of the league gets €10,500,000. That’s $11,968,215 at today’s exchange rate. Yeah, the Dollar has recently rebounded against the Euro. For the club owners; reaching certain stages of the competition the teams get paydays – paydays worth millions. No matter how you chop it up, it takes a lot of cash to compete but winning in this league drops a pile of cash into the teams coffers.
Why should you care? Because its a competition that is not very well understood in the U.S. And it features a ton of high profile players on teams that have high international recognition. This leaves a lot of room to capitalize on the high-quality team work it takes to win at the level these teams are playing at; not to mention some very interesting matchups that could potentially be very exciting. Think international clubs with lots of talent and various playing styles playing against the best of the rest. Also, the matches are spaced apart usually by a couple weeks; this gives you ton’s of time to analyze, project, and agonize.
So, if you regularly play in the EPL leagues here on Draftkings then you’ve already got a system. If you don’t, you need to give it some thought.
Goal keepers (a.k.a Goalies) – find either a highly prized goalie or an undervalued points producer going up against a team that doesn’t score much, lacks a strong goal scorer, or matched up against a team with a poor showing on the international scene.
Forwards – spend your money here. These guys regularly score the goals. Goals = fantasy points.
Mid-fielders – these guys assist and feed the ball to the forwards, sometimes they score too.
Defenders – these guys complement a mediocre goalie or contribute to the acclaim of a great goalie, so spend wisely.
AND NOW FOR THE CHOKEHOLD!
They keep statistics for virtually everything that happens on the pitch. That’s what they call the field. I know, crazy words these Europeans use. Take a look at the matchups. Has a team never won against their opponent? Has one team always scored more than one or two goals against the other team? Or are they evenly matched. Ananlysis like this can help you make more informed and skilled choices when setting your lineup and separate you from the pack.
So, why let the big boys make all the scratch? Now go forth scour the Internets for salient tea leaves and multiply…er…conquer…whatev’s.
Till next time, follow me on twitter @deepdfspicks