The final day of the group stages of the UEFA Champions League 2014/15 competition is upon us, and we have some big GPPs to celebrate today, with most of importance is the $20,000 Golden Boot with a $4,000 top prize and a slightly steep $200 entry fee. Hopefully you’ve stockpiled a few tickets for this big event and are ready to go, and I’m here to help you make sense of it all. As always, watch out for starting XI coming out on twitter about an hour before lineups lock and good luck today. You can feel free to follow me on twitter @DFS_hambazaza and I’ll try to answer any questions you may have.
Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich $4,900 – In today’s games the goal is to find players in winning scenarios for the goal position. We saw yesterday that the clean sheet bonus was instrumental to cashing in GPPs and having a decent score, I expect today to be no different. For that reason, Neuer is a great play today, he’s the sixth highest priced keeper on the slate and probably the best one talent-wise. His team is one of the bigger favorites to win against a CSKA Moscow side that needs a win in order to finish second in the group. I expect Moscow to be out classed in this match, but to continue to put some pressure on Bayern’s defense. Bayern’s defense is solid enough to withstand it, and likely hold a clean sheet. Neuer is one of my top plays on the day.
Gorka Iraizoz, Athletic Bilbao $4,600 – Athletic Bilbao will finish third if they win this game against whipping boy BATE Borisov at home. Of course, this pick comes with risks, BATE’s only win came against this same Athletic side in the reverse match, however, in the other four matches in this competition, BATE have conceded 21 goals from the other two squads. Athletic just tasted defeat from Cordoba in La Liga and are looking to advance in Europe to save face this season. I expect this to be a tough matchup, however, at home, I think that Iraizoz makes a good play.
Petr Cech, Chelsea $5,200 – Chelsea has already clinched the top of the group and are resting the majority of their key players. This however, is a top club with top-level talent waiting in the wings. Cech gets the chance today to man the goal line once again for Chelsea and facing a Sporting club that is wanting a result in order to go through to the next round. Cech is a good option, albeit expensive for a player with very little game-play in the last few weeks. This leaves him as a GPP option.
Other Keepers I Like: Ralf Fahrmann (Schalke 04), Marc Andr Ter-Stegen (Barcelona), Morgan De Sanctis (Roma)
Christian Fuchs, Schalke 04 $3,600 – Marked as a defender in the Draftkings game, Fuchs will be playing a right winger position in the midfield. He should be involved in the offense with some crosses and shots in the 3-5-2 formation. Moreover, Maribor aren’t a team that frightens me, so a clean sheet is in play here as well.
Rafinha, Bayern Munich $3,800 – With Bayern being such a decent favorite in this matchup, its easy to target their defenders, specifically their full backs. Of the two full backs, I prefer Rafinha for his more advanced position that he plays. He has games of 8 crosses in this UCL campaign, he also has been able to produce key passes and is a general threat on goal from the right flank.
Alex Sandro, FC Porto $2,800 – With the expectation that Porto-Donetsk game will be lacking in excitement, I suspect that a 0-0 draw can easily happen as neither team has any motivation to risk a loss. While Shakhtar Donetsk are without three key players, Porto will look to end in a victory, or at least will be the team putting the pressure on the visitors. This puts Sandro in the excellent position to get the clean sheet bonus and even assist up front with attack.
Jordi Alba, Barcelona $4,800 – If you’re going to pay up for a defender, Jordi Alba is my choice on the day as he’s playing in a high paced match at home against a team that is beatable. Barcelona is a big favorite in this matchup and Alba has been consistently a productive member of the Barcelona offense through crosses, shots and assists.
Other Defenders I Like: Benedikt Howedes (Schalke 04), Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Maicon (Roma), Bernat (Bayern Munich), Asuto Uchida (Schalke 04), Dennis Aogo (Schalke 04)
Andre Schurrle, Chelsea $7,400 – You can go several directions in the midfield today, I will mostly be paying midrange value for players who don’t get regular starts who are looking to improve their transfer value or convince their boss they deserve a bigger shot. Schurrle is one such player. For the season, Schurrle has fallen out of favor with the Chelsea manager and he’s getting a chance today to shine in the “10” spot normally reserved for Hazard and Fabregas. I predict that Schurrle will have a productive game leading Chelsea to a dominant performance and a likely 2-0 victory.
Blaise Matuidi, Paris St. Germain $5,700 – The PSG-Barca game will be full of fireworks and whoever controls the midfield will likely win the match, however, fantasy wise, Matuidi has the kind of potential that we can salivate over. On the season, Matuidi has only 1 assist but he has provided 11 key passes. With Ibrahimovic back for this matchup and looking to exact revenge against his former squad, I anticipate that if any of the midfielders delivers an accurate cross then the forwards will find a way to get their feet/heads on it. Matuidi is a GPP play as his floor is about 3-5 points, but he can score or assist giving him a high ceiling.
Davy Klaassen, Ajax $5,000 – Given Ajax’s position in the table, they want to win this game in order to reaffirm their place in the Europa League. At his price, Klaassen is a great play as he is very active on the wings for Ajax and they’re facing an APOEL Nicosia team that will likely concede or pack it in real tight. I expect Klaassen to have plenty of opportunities today and potentially score or assist on a goal.
Mario Gotze, Bayern Munich $9,200 – Bayern are a huge favorite today against a CSKA Moscow squad looking for a win. Gotze will be a very expensive option in the middle but he’s scored in his last two UCL games and is very capable of scoring multiple goals in a match. Of all the expensive midfielders today, he’s my favorite to roster on the day’s slate.
Samir Nasri, Manchester City $5,000 – Manchester City are desperate, they need a winning result and they need some help from Bayern. They are missing their top striker and several of their other midfielders and defenders. Nasri will have plenty of usage in the midfield today and he’ll be feeding Edin Dzeko up front. Look for Nasri as a GPP play only as the team will be relying on the counter attack to try to escape Roma with a win. We know that the Roma defense is susceptible to lapses (see the Bayern match a few weeks ago) So Nasri can prove GPP-winning-worthy.
Douglas Costa, Shakhtar Donetsk $6,100 – Having to pick from the three midfielders in the Shakhtar midfield is a tough choice, as any of the three can shine in any given week. This week, my top choice is Douglas Costa. Costa only played 20 minutes in last weekend’s match in the Ukrainian league so he should be well rested for this game. There is a risk he could be rested however, so make sure he is in the starting XI when lineups are released.
Other Midfielders I Like: Alex Teixeira (Shakhtar Donetsk), Xabi Alonso (Bayern Munich), Radja Naiggolan (Roma), James Milner (Manchester City), John obi Mikel (Chelsea)
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Schalke 04 $8,000 – Schalke are one of my favorite offenses to target today, and with their two wing midfielders (Fuchs and Uchida) listed as defenders, combining them with Huntelaar makes a decent GPP strategy if they end up scoring/assisting a few times against a weak Maribor team. Huntelaar is the top forward on the team and he’ll get the majority of opportunities. He recently had a three goal- one assist game in the Bundesliga and Schalke are firing on all cylinders since their loss to Chelsea 2 weeks ago.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris St. Germain $11,700 – The Revenge game is nigh! Zlatan has had some choice words to say about Barcelona and his time there ever since he left. He’s determined to prove that he’s the “one that got away” and he’s going to go after this game with the full force of the Zlatan vengeance. He’s extremely expensive and extremely volatile. His day can include a hat-trick or a red card 7 minutes in. One thing is certain however, he’ll be fun to watch.
Luis Suarez, Barcelona $10,300 – Suarez comes into this match having had an assist in his last outing for Barcelona. Of course, the assist was to Lionel Messi who scored a hat-trick, but for the slight discount, I might choose to go with Suarez in this matchup and hope that the masses are on Messi for this matchup giving a Suarez team a bit of a boost if he manages to score a goal. Of all the $10K+ players on the board, Suarez might have the most upside/lowest ownership combination necessary to win a GPP today.
Edin Dzeko, Manchester City $7,900 – He’s going to be the sole forward for a desperate team looking to get a win away from home. The odds of Manchester City achieving their goal are slim, however, they are there. Dzeko is about to be thrust into the striker role for this City squad after Aguero’s injury and he’s going to look to take advantage of the opportunity. Buyer beware however, as two weeks ago when he came on against QPR he only lasted 4 minutes before pulling a hamstring and leaving the match. Dzeko is volatile but he could score and be a hero today.
Cillian Sheridan, Apoel Nicosia $4,200 – While Ajax are an easy favorite in this matchup, their back line is very suspect and could concede. Look for Sheridan to take advantage of that and attempt to propel his Cypriotic squad into the Europa league if they manage to win this one.
Vincent Aboubakar, Porto $5,000 – Aboubakar gets the start in the forward spot for Porto and his price is too low to ignore. He’s only played a total of 60 minutes in his last four games and managed a goal scored in that span. If Aboubakar gets a chance to play the entire match he can show the form that excelled for him back in Lorient in the French League 1 last season.
Other Forwards I Like: Artiz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao), Lasse Schone (Ajax), Diego Costa (Chelsea), Lois Remy (Chelsea), Eric Chuopo-Moting (Schalke 04), Islam Slimani (Sporting), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Edinson Cavani (PSG), Francesco Totti (Roma)