The second day of matchday four in the UEFA Champions League games features several interesting narratives that can play a key role in determining how the games go. There are several teams that can clinch a knockout-round berth with a victory today, including Chelsea, PSG, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich. Luis Suarez also debuts in the Champions League for Barcelona against his former team. Messi has a golden opportunity to become the all time leading scorer in the Champions League if he scores two goals. Shakhtar Donetsk and Bayern are coming off HUGE victories against the same opponents they are facing this week, and both of them are playing at home. The bottom line is that there are plenty of opportunities for teams to give us plenty of fantasy goodness on this Wednesday in Champions League matches. So, I do not want to keep you waiting, let’s take a look at the picks.
Salvatore Sirigu, Paris Saint Germain – When looking at the goalkeepers, I like to consider the teams with the best odds to get the victory on their home soil. One of the biggest favorites on the board today at home are the French champs. They are facing the Cypriote champs APOEL Nicosia. The Cypriotes have put up some great performances this champions league season but they seem to just fall short, and in a group of European giants, the expectations were very slim. On the road against a French side that has looked superb, I don’t expect them to register a beat as PSG are heavy favorites and are coming off a stretch where they have not lost in 10 matches across all competitions. a win here, coupled with a Barcelona win guarantees the French teams passage into the knockout stages. Sirigu will not face much pressure, but he should get a comfortable win, and the clean sheet is not out of the question. The only prohibitive aspect of selecting him is the price as he’s at $5,200.
Joe Hart, Manchester City – He’s coming off arguably one of the best games of his career where he’s made some excellent saves in the Manchester Derby last weekend. Hart, is expensive at $4,900, but he’s going to be facing a Moscow team that is on the road. Manchester City are desperate for a result here as they only have only 2 points in the first three matches. They expect that Bayern will win at home today, thus giving them the chance to move into second place ahead of Roma if they can clinch the three points today.
Andriy Pyatov, Shakhtar Donetsk – 7-0 is enough to draw the attention of anybody, but when you’re on the road and pull off a victory such as that, then you’re guaranteed to get attention the next time out. A lot of people will be on Donetsk’s players this time around and for good reason. They’ll be playing BATE at “home” (their home stadium is currently in the midst of all the turmoil in the Ukraine) so they should have a good chance at winning. Don’t expect another 7-0 victory, the coaches here will probably make adjustments, But I do expect Donetsk to win this game handily and move even closer to a knockout stage qualification.
Others I like: whoever starts for Chelsea between Courtois and Cech, whoever starts for Barcelona between Bravo and Ter Stegen, Manuel Neuer – Bayern Munich
Dennis Aogo, Schalke 04 – Aogo plays the left full back position for Schalke and is likely to contribute to that attack. in his last matchup against Sporting Lisbon he crossed the ball 9 times with one assist, this game is expected to be close and Schalke are looking for a win here against the team in the bottom of the group.
Cedric, Sporting Lisbon – Priced at only $2,000 Cedric makes a great value play as he has contributed in the last three games he’s played for Sporting. I expect the home team to go full force in attack in this one in order to try to get all three points and get their European campaign underway. Cedric is a bit of a wild card as he won’t always venture up front tho. but for $2K you can get 3x easily from him and maybe 4-6x depending on the scoring in the match.
Gael Clichy, Manchester City – the left back for Manchester City should be starting this match and he gives a nice price at $3,100 versus a weaker Moscow team playing on the road. Clichy has been providing crosses for his team lately and if he tends to venture up front then he can be in a good position to get an assist or two. Couple that with the added bonus of the 1GA or the CS and you have the makings of a goalkeeper-defender stack with Joe Hart.
Darijo Srna, Shakhtar Donetsk – The right full back for Shakhtar is coming off a big game. He had a big game last time with 14 fantasy points, however with a price tag of $4,000 he can be a bit contrarian and would be tough to fit in your lineup with all the other options on the board for the day. Shakhtar Donetsk are expected to win, and score some goals. He could be a contributor in that, as well as get the CS bonus if they can keep the back of the net clean.
Dani Alves, Barcelona – He’s a key for the Barcelona attack. He likes to venture up front and assist in spreading the field and draw defenders away from Messi to give him a chance to work his magic. Because of this, Alves tends to be in position to deliver plenty of crosses into the box which can lead to assists. He’s my top defender on the day, but his price will have you searching for value elsewhere as he comes in at a whopping $5,200.
Gregory Van Der Wiel, PSG – another consistent defender in terms of his ability to contribute in the attack. Van Der Wiel is coming off games where he’s scored 5, 9 and 11 fantasy points respectively. And the last game was not a result of a score or an assist. He delivered 6 crosses into the field as well as had his team record the clean sheet bonus.
Others I like: David Luiz – PSG, Jordi Alba – Barcelona, Felipe Luis and Azpilicueta – Chelsea, Jerome boateng – Bayern Munich
Taison/Alex Teixeira/Douglas Costa, Shakhtar Donetsk – Be weary of piling up on the Donetsk players who performed superbly last time out. Yes, they will have plenty of chances to repeat their dominance again this week, however, you can’t be sure where the stats will come from. Costa and Teixeira shined last time out. Taison missed out on most of the fun, however, I believe any of the three can come through with big numbers this time. My favorite of the trio is Douglas Costa as he can provide crosses as well as the ability to score.
Eden Hazard, Chelsea – He’s the main penalty kick taker for Chelsea, he’s also heavily involved in the attack. His ability to dissect the defense and glide through them to create opportunities for one of the better offenses in Europe can’t go unnoticed. However, his contributions are sometimes limited as a lot of what he does won’t show up on the fantasy stat sheet. He does have multi goal upside however as well as multi-shot/cross upside. and it all depends on the flow of the match. Maribor he had 39 fantasy points with 6 shots and 2 goals and a handful of crosses and fouls. Expect more of the same today.
Yacine Brahimi, FC Porto – The Algerian International will look to get a goal in this competition for the first time since scoring a hat-trick against BATE in the first game of the group stage. He is coming off a game where he scored a goal for Porto, and he’s been a consistent force in the attack for Porto. Porto currently lead the group with 7 points in their first three matches, and will be looking for a positive result against a weaker Athletic Bilbao club away from home.
Benat, Athletic Bilbao – Benat was able to get an assist and a few crosses and shots last time out in only 45 minutes against this same Porto team. He didn’t play the last game against Sevilla in the Spanish La Liga, so keep on the look out for his starting. If he does indeed start, he would make a great value play as his price is down at only $4,500.
Arjen Robben, Bayern Munich – 2 goals, 1 assist, 5 shots, 5 crosses. That was the line for Arjen Robben on the road at Roma last time out. He’s going to be at home now and can easily duplicate that effort. Bayern are the clear class in this match and should easily win in front of their home crowd. Anybody who watched the world cup games remembers Robben being a very active attacker and a skilled finisher for the Netherlands. I expect him to continue his dominance today.
Others I like: Lucas Moura – PSG, Yaya Toure – Manchester City, Cesc Fabregas – Chelsea, Samir Nasri – Manchester City, Mario Gotze – Bayern Munich, Andres Iniesta – Barcelona, Javier Pastore – PSG
Sergio Aguero, Manchester City – at $13,000 Aguero is very expensive in this match, and for good reason, he’s coming off seven games where he’s reached double digit points. At his price you’ll need at least 25-30 points in order to make value. He’s very capable of this as he’s facing a Moscow team that is not very good. Manchester City need the win and Aguero will be very active up front. If you can’t fit him in your lineup, Dzeko might be a good GPP pivot. Dzeko is coming off injury and played last game against Man United, but you have to see if he’s starting prior to lineup lock.
Lionel Messi, Barcelona – You can go with either Messi or with Suarez in this spot, they’re both very expensive and they both have something to prove. I’m a big believer in narrative street with Champions League. Messi is going for two goals and the all time record in goals scored in the CL, while Suarez wants to score his first Barca goal against his former team. Of the two, I’ll give the edge to Messi simply because he has more creativity in the midfield and can take on a whole slew of defenses and score all on his own.
Didier Drogba, Chelsea – If he gets the start, Drogba makes an excellent play for Chelsea as he has already scored against this team last time around. His price has gone up to $7,000 so its hard to roster him as a value spot, however, he’s still going to get in position to get some chances and he has great instinct when it comes to scoring goals.
Luiz Adriano, Shakhtar Donetsk – The man broke some records last time out against BATE and he’s going to try to show up in front of his home crowd this time. 65 fantasy points is not something you should chase, however, 7 shots with 6 shots on target is something you can hang your hat on. If he can convert that into a goal or two he’s sitting comfortably at 20-25 fantasy points which is more than enough value for his price of $7,900
Thomas Muller, Bayern Munich – The head of the attack for the German side will look to add to his goal tally against Roma. He played a mere 60 minutes last time out and recoreded just 19 fantasy points, which while great, were a disappointment for his owners if they didn’t have Adriano on their team. Muller however is back home in Germany where he can be more aggressive in the attack and can provide crosses, shots and goals. I expect big things from Muller today.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Schalke 04 – Another German striker, this time for Schalke gets the nod here as he’s been very consistent notching a goal for his side every time they take the pitch. His performances so far have lended themselves to quality and taking advantage of opportunities given. Hunterlaar is in a good spot to add more goals to his tally for his side. His price however is very high given that his floor is very low. He’s a GPP option for me today.
Others I like: Islam Slimani – Sporting Lisbon, Edinson Cavani – PSG, Neymar – Barcelona, Lasse Schone – Ajax, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson – Ajax, Francesco Totti – Roma, Guillermo – Athletic Bilbao