It’s that time of year again: Champions League! And your boy Duke is here to break it all down and give his favorite UCL DFS plays!!
THESEEE ARE THE CHAMMPPPPIOOOONNNNNNSSSS!!!
We are back, baby. 4 teams. 2 games. Infinite bitcoin to win. Or TopShots or however you kids are exchanging pogs and slammers these days. It’s wild!
With all of the investment opportunities out there I do wonder why I spend an untold amount of time researching these slates and piling money into contests, but the answer is simple: Investments come and go. They are real and fake. Beating your peers in a game of skill week in, week out gives you an additional income stream and bragging rights!
Last week was a mixed bag. We had some massive winners (congrats) but I came out a net loser over the two days. I can’t remember the last time that happened in a UCL week.
It won’t happen again. We saw goals goals goals goals last week and as a reminder, the traditional EPL approach to cash games does not typically get it done in UCL. Let’s go goal hunting baby!
To the desert…
HOW THEY GOT HERE
You might recognize that team in first place there. They play Lazio today as well. These two were always favorites to go through so it’s no surprise with the order of finish. Atletico have been fantastic in all facets this year. They top La Liga at the moment, 3 points clear of Real Madrid and 8 points ahead of Barcelona.
In group play it was all about doing enough to advance. It’s that strategy by Atletico that has seen them feature in multiple UCL finals in the past decade. Oddly enough Atletico’s second win came on the final matchday against Salzberg with the group hanging in the balance. A 2-0 win by Atletico sealed their fate in this round.
Another manager getting his team through to the knockout stages only to see him sitting on his couch as the team plays their next match. Out with Lampard and in with Tuchel.
I’ve detailed the differences between the two in several EPL articles so I’ll spare you at this point. Just look at that group. Not getting through against those 3 teams would be criminal. This will be their toughest test in Europe by a country mile.
Lazio started group play with a banging 3-1 win over Dortmund. Those were crucial points as Lazio required a matchday 6 draw against Club Brugge to advance. For a team to not lose a game and be at risk of not moving through is wild and, of course, they only wouldn’t have advanced if they did lose.
Ciro Immobile is the main man up front. Perhaps worryingly they did concede in every single UCL match they played. They currently sit 5th in Serie A and have only scored 38 goals in 23 games, by far the least of any team from the big 7 in Italy. Conceding goals and not scoring a ton tends to put you in a tough spot.
Yeah, Bayern are a wagon. The European Champions are back for more blood having navigated the same group as Atletico. They made it look fairly routine which is a credit to how good and deep their roster is at the moment. What else can you say? They are really good.
We’ve seen it for years and it was confirmed by last week’s UCL games: ignore the total because these games are flying over. Are Atletico the outlier?
MOST of Atletico’s damage has come at home in the KO phase. They are masters of winning the tie, not both games. Although they did beat Liverpool in both legs last year.
In 18/19 they beat Juve 2-0 at home and lost 0-3 away. In 16/17 they beat Leicester 1-0 at home and tied 1-1 away. They then beat Real Madrid 2-1 at home before losing 0-3 away. In 15/16 they beat Barcelona 2-0 at home and lost 1-2 away. They beat Bayern Munich 1-0 at home and lost 1-2 away. You get the idea…
Part of the insane home/road splits are two major factors. The first is Atletico’s style of play. It’s hard-nosed defensive solidity first and wonder goals on the other end. The second are the fans at Wanda Metrolpolitano. It’s an atmosphere second to none in sports. Nearly 70k fans were spurred on by their manager and the 11 athletes on the pitch giving their blood sweat and tears for the badge.
There will be no fans. The game will not be played at Wanda Metropolitano. The game will be played in Bucharest due to COVID travel restrictions. It’s a tough break for Atletico but this is still considered their home fixture so the style of play and need to get a result will not change.
They know they need to win home matches and have done so in La Liga as well. Before the shock loss this past weekend at home they were 9-2-0 at home in La Liga. Perhaps they were looking ahead to this match and all can be forgiven but the form of certain players cannot go ignored. Joao Felix will need to drastically improve his play for Atletico to get the win here.
Chelsea look like a changed team but still lack the killer instinct arond the goal. Tuchel was left screaming into his hands several times during their draw against Southamptont this weekend. I also don’t believe Tuchel knows his best 11 yet. Add in the subbing on and then OFF of Hudson-Odoi and you have to wonder how he’ll line up come game time.
Chelsea are a heavy possession oriented team. Atletico has held a surprising majority of possession of late. One of these teams will win the possession battle and for my money it’s going to be Chelsea. Possession does not equal wins; goals do. Who has more goals? I don’t know that but I do have both of these teams scoring as Chelsea push for the crucial away goal.
Expect goals. Lots and lots of goals. From both teams. It’s important to note that the season is long and these guys are in the same room 7 days a week for basically 10 months. They will have good and bad spells.
The start of the and during large parts of the group stage were not the best of times for Lazio. It was a slow start but they’ve sorted quite a bit out after the new year. They’ve won 7 of their last 8 matches with only a 3-1 away loss to Inter Milan during that run.
At home, they’ve conceded 1, 0, 1, 0 and 0 goals in their last 5. The big worry for me and for Lazio fans has to be their performances against the elite teams. They lost 3-2 to Atalanta in the Coppa Italia. I mentioned the 3-1 loss to Inter. They are dominating the ball but giving up 3 or 4 big chances per game. If you give Bayern 3 big chances you are conceding at least 2 goals and somehow, probably 4.
Bayern are on their own version of a skid. They’ve conceded 5 goals in their last 2 in the Bundesliga. They’ve scored 4 in that time but lost to Eintract and drew against minnows Arminia Bielefeld. Is it just boredom? A mid-season lull?
In both of those matches they conceded 2 goals in the first half before turning up the dial in the second half. Combined they outshot their opponents 41-20. The worry is teams, especially those who know they can score goals at will, can get used to seeing the ball hit the back of their own net.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see Lazio find the scoresheet here. In fact, a Lazio win isn’t totally out of the question in a similar performance to their game against Dormtund to open UCL play. They won that match 3-1. Dortmund had 65% possession and outshot Lazio 14 to 11 but Lazio converted on their big chances and forced an own goal. Both GKs will be active.
- Lewandowski – BAY – $10.5k
- Should have won the Ballon d’Or last year. He’s one of the best on the planet and unlike Messi and Ronaldo, plays on the best team in the world.
- Joao Felix – ATM – $7.2k
- In poor form but at home and coming off a steller group play. There are players with higher floors and there will be huge pressure on his shoulders but from a pure talent standpoint he’s at or near the top of the list.
- Immobile – LAZ – $9.2k
- Played 4 games in group stage: 22, 30, 19.4 and 18.3.
- Sane – BAY – $7.6k
- With all of the injuries and illness floating around Bayern, Sane has finally taken his chance. He’s in good form and while he doesn’t have the goal contribution/90 of someone like Coman, his price is much easier to fit and the system is the same.
- Werner – CHE – $6.7k
- He is right in that perfect price range where he could absolutely screw you with a 3 pt display and it will kill you or he could bag 2 goals and break the slate. Atletico are stingy defensively and Werner misses too many great chances for him to be any higher than this but in GPP he has the ability to change your bank account.
- Suarez – ATL – $7.4k
- Experience and price make this a decent play. His downside is quite low and he’s not guaranteed to take penalty kicks. I’d like to see him in a trio of attackers with Felix/Correa for the most upside.
- Correa – LAZ – $6.8k
- This could be Caicedo who would be ok as well. Correa combines really well with the yin to Immobile’s yang. Immobile is more of a bull in a china shop with good instincts around the box. Correa is a total footballer. I see him as more of a set up man than a pure finisher so the price is appropriate, but in a BVB game scenario he’s super playable at this price. Against Bayern he’ll have little ownership which is obviously a plus in GPPs.
- Kimmich – BAY – $8.4k
- They really missed him during his injury absence but he’s back and ready to roll. The price is up there but he’ll have sets and finds himself involved in goals/assists regularly. His three matches of 20.6, 24 and 23.4 gave him the highest per game average in UCL action.
- Mount – CHE – $7.5k
- Very reasonable price for his output and role within the team. He grabbed his goal this weekend from the penalty spot and was by far the best player on the field for Chelsea. He should keep his place and role on set. It’s important to note that Jorginho was not on the field at the time of the penalty and you can assume he takes them should they both start.
- Llorente – ATL – $6.2k
- He has so much to his game that I didn’t know existed. He’s tactically flexible. If he lines up as 1 of 2 behind the striker it helps his goal odds. If he’s outside it helps his floor and xA. Either way he’s reasonably priced on a “home” team that will push for the win.
- Jorginho – CHE – $4.5k
- Penalty kick duty for under $5k at a tough position on a team who should attack most of the game. GPP only but well worth the price for the upside.
- Gortezka – BAY – $5.6k
- Bayern will have enough of the ball for this destroyer to get forward and contribute attacking points to his overall score. He is just coming back from COVID so I’m a touch hesitant but the price is fine.
- Koke – ATL – $4k
- Will likely be 1 of 2 CDMs in this system and could have some set piece equity.
- Roca – BAY – $3.1k
- With Muller out there is a chance he steps into the first 11. At that point I’ll have interest because anyone playing M or F for Bayern at min-price is an auto-play. In saying that he hasn’t done a damn thing with his chances in group play..
- Fares – LAZ – $3.5k
- He plays the LWB/LM role in the Lazio system typically and while he doesn’t get forward a ton, he does have some xA upside and provides great salary savings at a touch position.
- Davies – BAY – $4.4k
- He’s never much of a cash play but under $5k he’s certainly in consideration. Assuming Coman is on the left and cutting inside there will be ample space for the pacey Davies to overlap and involve himself in the attack.
- Alonso – CHE – $4.8k
- He’s built for the system Tuchel has implemented. As the LWB with Rudiger covering he can bomb forward at will. I expected him to be over $5k. In that sense this feels cheap.
- Lodi – ATL – $4.5k
- I don’t love this option but he does have some set piece equity and could line up at LWB. Why don’t I like it? How much will Atletico have the ball? If most of their attacking chances are on the break that would gear more towards forwards and midfielders. But he’s reasonably priced and a quality player.
- Alaba – BAY – $3.9k
- CM or CB he’s fine for the price. I’d like him more in an advanced position but he’ll still have his 70-90 passes and soem defensive stats regardless. Limited upside.
- Musacchio – LAZ – $2.8k
- Little upside but he’s basically free and will see the ball near him quite a bit to pick up defensive stats. Leroy Sane is shifty and could cause him some problems – ie: fouls. Simply a punt.
- Mendy – CHE – $4.6k
- My head says go Oblak but my heart says pick Mendy. Tuchel is building something and Reina could get shelled and Bayern are conceding goals.
- Neuer – BAY – $5.6k
- Just too expensive for most builds.
- Oklak – ATL – $4.8k
- Can they pull off the “home” win and keep the CS? Chelsea haven’t been blowing teams out.
- Reina – LAZ – $4k
- He’s not exactly super cheap but $4k is low enough to take a risk. The most likely to finish with negative points. A CS seems quite unlikely but save upside will be there.