It’s that time of year again: Champions League! And your boy Duke is here to break it all down and give his favorite DFS plays!!
I completely forgot how long these articles take to research. Today we have teams from: England, Holland, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Italy, Greece and France. Yes, I’ve been watching freaking Denmark Superliga matches all night lol. Whatever it takes to get you guys in the green, right?
This isn’t work…it’s fun. I can’t wait for Wednesday’s slate and while I know the Tuesday slate has more big names but Wednesday’s slate should see more goal actions. Regardless, we are knee deep into the soccer season and after this, the research moves back to EPL for the weekend.
Let’s head to the desert…
- Ajax +370 | 3,3.5 (-120o/-110u)
- Liverpool -145
- DRAW +305
- Bayern Munich -180 | 2.5,3 (-135o/+105u)
- Ateltico Madrid +475
- DRAW +345
- FC Midtjylland +450 | 3,3.5 (-120o/-110u)
- Atalanta -195
- DRAW +350
- Inter Milan -165 | 2.5,3 (-120o/-110u)
- Monchengladbach +450
- DRAW +315
- Man City -345 | 3.5 (+105o/-135u)
- FC Porto +900
- DRAW +500
- Olympiakos +135 | 2,2.5 (-110o/-120u)
- Marseille +220
- DRAW +220
Ajax have lost a ton of talent from the days of them nearly playing in the Champions League final. Gone are the likes of Ziyech, van de Beek and De Ligt. They tend to simply reload whether through their academy or finding good value on the market. Quincy Promes, Dusan Tadic and David Neres form a great attacking trident and they aren’t the only options in that area of the field. Any game with Liverpool is a tall task but Ajax are off to their usual hot start with 4 wins from 5 matches. Antony in particular has found the back of the net in 3 of their 5 matches.
Liverpool have major question marks at the back after Virgil van Dijk suffered a torn ACL. Joel Matip and Joe Gomez will anchor the back line with the usual team in front of them. The ability for Liverpool to trot the same team out week after week is one of the more underappreciated aspects of all of their success. They’ve almost been extremely lucky in that aspect. This is a big miss though and we’ll see how they respond. There were already questions about the back line after conceding 3 to Leeds, 7 to Aston Villa and 2 to Everton. After that, it’s more of the usual that you guys are used to seeing.
Could this game shoot out? 100% but if you look back to last year, in Liverpool’s 3 away matches they won 2, lost 1 while scoring 6 goals and conceding 3. You might say Duke, that’s 3 goals per game…let’s cook. Eh, 5 of those goals came in a 4-1 win away to Genk and they lost 0-2 to Napoli who I have rated fairly similarly to Ajax. This isn’t a fade but I’d urge caution here.
Bayern at home are a tough out and we know Diego Simeone will have his team set up to defend. There is no doubt about that. Bayern will miss Thiago’s creativity and passing range will be missed but it’s not like Bayern will be shocked by their set up. Teams in the Bundesliga, and Europe, set up with a deep back line all the time to limit this explosive attack. The European Champions always play in entertaining games. This season alone their Bundesliga matches are AVERAGING 6.25 GOALS PER GAME!! Their style lends itself to big numbers in the attack and conceding the odd goal as a trade off.
Atletico are off to a flying start and Barca’s decision to offload Luis Suarez is Atletico’s gain. He forms maybe the dirtiest attacking pairing of all time with Diego Costa. In reality, only Suarez will start but these dog faced killers fit Simeone’s personality to a T. They have talent in spades all over the field but will still play hard nosed, defensive soccer.
This game presents a weird situation where the attacking team is known for bagging a million goals at home and the away team is known for playing to 0-0 or 1-0 close matches away. Something has to give. If this game had a 3 total I was going under. Some might be surprised to see the 2.5,3 there but I wasn’t.
This game is the most likely to see 7 goals scored. Atalanta do have Champions League experience after last season’s exciting run. Exciting you say? How about Atalanta being bottom of the group until the VERY LAST GAME when they vaulted to 2nd and qualified for the elimination rounds. Their 6 group matches featured 20 goals, 2 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses. They are a complete wild card. In Serie A this season they’ve played 4 games with an average of 5.75 total goals scored. They are yet to keep a clean sheet. They play attacking football and are always a pleasure to watch.
Midtjylland are out of Denmark and made it to the group stage through multiple qualification round wins, the most recent of which was a 4-1 home hammering of Slavia Praha. You’ll find that this team does a hell of a lot better at home than away. I was thinking back, wondering where I remembered this team from. It wasn’t from the Champions League. It wasn’t from the Europa League. It was from freaking Europa League qualification last year when they lost a 2-legged tie to Rangers. Yes, my brain is weird. They lost 2-4 to Rangers at home and dropped the reverse fixture 3-1 away. Most recently they’ve played their last 3 matches with 4.33 total goals per game. This should be fun.
Atalanta will score. Midtjylland will score. We will need shares.
What in God’s name is going on with this Inter back line? They’ve conceded in every match this season. They conceded 5 total goals to Fiorentino and new boys Benevento. Granted, they won both of those matches but a draw against a shaky Lazio and a loss against arch rival AC Milan won’t give this squad a ton of confidence heading to their Champions League opener. They are breaking in a few new faces and are still absolutely loaded with talent. This team will be fine and I have them winning this match. Lukaku and Martinez are 2 of the best attackers on earth and the system is built around them. Kolarov has left his usual LB role to fill in as the left CB in this system. Vidal has added some bite to the midfield and Hakimi is fitting right in at the RWB role. This team will be FINE!
I’ll keep the breakdown short and sweet. Gladbach are over their skis. They were a great story last year in the Bundesliga but they won’t hang with the big boys in Europe.
Inter are back with a W.
It was great to see Sergio Aguero back on the field. He didn’t exactly do a damn thing but he was out there running around and regaining fitness ahead of crucial matches. It’s been apparent this season how much this City team misses 2 things: 1) a recognized center forward. 2) David Silva. Silva’s contributions were overshadowed by the brilliance of De Bruyne but the threat from Silva provided balance in the squad. They haven’t quite replaced this threat. Phil Foden has tried to fill the role but the forward situation has pushed Sterling central and Foden into the wings. That’s not his natural position and it shows. I say all that but still, this is City. This is Pep. They are a wagon. They are big favorites here and with Porto jettisoning talent, they’ll struggle to keep up.
Alex Telles is at Man United. Danilo Pereira is at PSG and will feature on Tuesday, most likely. They still have Otavio, Marega and Corona. Marega is an absolute handful and will challenge the City CBs but I wonder how much they’ll create. They are no strangers to the competition. They dominated their group in 2018 but admittedly, it was surprisingly weak. They were able to beat Roma over 2 legs but were hammered by Liverpool.
As the biggest favorite on the board, they’ll be popular but with their offensive question marks and the fitness doubts of Aguero, I’ll be peaking around other areas.
(I’m likely not touching this in DFS if you want to skip the breakdown)
Olympiacos had a fantastic transfer window, in my humble opinion. They added quality and depth but oddly enough, it’s 33 year old Youssef El Arabi. This team is like a who’s who of players we’ve seen in other more popular leagues. Jose Holebas has fit right in at left back. Rafinha is a player you’ll recognize from Bayern Munich. Yann M’vila has moved all over Europe. Of course, Mathieu Valbuena is the little dynamo who makes everything move for this side. This is a near impossible group for them to advance from but they will give the other three teams in Group C trouble in all 6 matches.
This is the biggest test for Marseille of the competition. Why? They need to show they belong. They were brilliant last season in Ligue 1 but were still miles off PSG. For as pedestrian as the whole of the league can be, they are developing quite a bit of talent at the top with the likes of Rennse, Lille and Nice. Oddly enough, UCL darling from last season finished in 7th last season and won’t feature anywhere across Europe. The 2nd place finish isn’t a fluke. They added talent as well. Luis Henrique is a young prospect who arrived for nearly $9m. Michael Cuisance is a highly touted German teen who arrives on loan. Of course they have the stalwarts as well. Thauvin and Payet are off to hot starts. Benedetto is leading the line and Steve Mandanda is the steady voice in goal.
To me, the line here is a touch out of whack. Olympiacos are no push over but I had this as a pick em, not as it’s currently lined in Vegas. This is rightly the lowest total on the board and I likely won’t have a ton of exposure in DFS but I’m watching this match closely for future reference in this group.
Goals goals goals. In cash we need more upside. There are certainly spots to attack. GPP is my likely path here again in UCL but I believe we can narrow this field down enough to feel good in cash as well.
Aguero – MCI – $9.3k
I really had to try my best not to overthink this. I didn’t love what I saw from Aguero at the weekend but he was taken off early enough that Pep obviously had. My hope is that it was proper rest for this match and not frustration at the lack of production. They are the biggest favorites in a high total game so I’m plugging him in. My #1 forward. (assuming he starts…)
Zapata – ATA – $8k
This will be a popular game in GPP but I’m even considering him in cash. Atalanta are going to score goals. They are likely going to concede goals as well. What I love about their system is the quality of chances they create. The high flying attack creates chances that are hard to miss. Let’s hope Zapata bags a brace here.
Salah – LIV – $8.5k
He has the best goal scoring odds on the slate at -200. I expect this to be an open game with Liverpool’s defensive issues and the price is right.
Lukaku – INT – $8.1k
This is a bit harsh to put him this far down the list but there are some great options at the position. He’s a beast in UCL and will likely bag a goal tomorrow. The trouble is, I think he’ll need 2!
Mahrez – MCI – $9k
No KDB still means Mahrez should be back on sets here again. He continues to be shown his right foot in the premier league and you’d assume Porto have done their homework but he loves the UCL spotlight. I have him projected for 16.8 points which is quite conservative but that’s without a goal.
Lewandowski – BAY – $11.4k
I HATE the matchup but he’s still Lewa. I’ll have less than the field but he’s in play.
El Arabi – OLY – $7.4k
GPP only. I can’t touch him in cash but he’s my pivot off of the Lukaku/Zapata range. He’s in sparkling form and they are home favorites here. He’ll carry less ownership than the other two and likely Lautaro Martinez as well. Decent spot.
Antony – AJA – $5.2k
Everyone will run to Promes. I think that is a mistake. Everyone will grab Tadic. He creates 4 chances per game. That makes sense but he’s expensive. I’ll take the tip of the spear here for basically free. Liverpool will have a ton of the ball but Ajax will create chances. He’s decent value for the money.
Brumado/Kaba – MCH – $5.4k/$5.1K
I don’t know who is going to start but Atalanta love conceding goals and here we have a home team that loves to attack and a forward under $5.5k. These 2 are literally neck and neck with Antony for my favorite value F.
Gomez – ATA – $7.5k
#1 midfielder by a decent margin. Has a goal in him. Set up man. Great to pair with Zapata. This free role in an open game will showcase his class. Possible sub risk but the price is too tasty. Core play.
Gundogan – MCI – $4.3k
He was only brought on off the bench this weekend and should be fresh for the match here. The line is treating Porto like they are a second division team but I can’t argue against needing pieces of City. Here is a cheap piece that will have a small share of sets as well.
Carrasco – ATL – $3.5k
This is the most bizarre pricing I’ve seen over the 2 days. He’s mainly been coming off the bench for Atletico but with Costa out through injury, there is a chance Felix slides forward and Carrasco fills his space. In that scenario, he’s too cheap for the upside he presents. (If it’s Lemar he does take set pieces and is even cheaper!)
Hakimi – $6.5k
Playing the RWB role in this system can be rewarding when Inter are in control as I expect them to be here. He’s still finding his footing in the system but has at least 1 shot in each of his 4 matches thus far and has had at least 4 crosses in each of his last 3. What I don’t love is the 1 shot assisted over his 4 matches. (3 starts) I would love to pair him with Lukaku but it’s pricey.
Kimmich – BAY – $6.7k
The new kid bump. He and his wife have just welcomed their second child into the world and there is a chance he doesn’t play but this is the Champions League. Set pieces on a home favorite that I don’t have much exposure to and can play naked.
Payet – MAR – $6.5k
He’s “out” on DK but that’s a domestic ban and he’s available here and should be fresh. He’s getting long in the tooth but has quality in his boots and while I’d prefer Thauvin, I’m not paying $8.3k. This would be my Marseille exposure, if you need any.
Otavio – POR – $3.5k
I’ve used him in UCL with success before and his role has only increased. He’s better than most defenders at this price and if Carrasco doesn’t start, he’s fine as a M punt.
Pasalic – ATA – $5.9k
Unfortunately he’s efficiently priced or we’d have more shares. He’s a deeper GPP play as part of an Atalanta stack. All of his value comes from shots, assists and goals. He has 1 in 2 starts thus far.
ATA FBs – $4.9k/$4.4k
I’m ok playing both in cash and GPP. These are attacking roles in this system and they provide width with Gomez tucking inside. I expected each to be over $5k.
Alexander-Arnold – LIV – $6.6k
Do we have the cash? Most builds I’ve made thus far haven’t so I’ve gone down to 1 or both of the Atalanta fullbacks but he has set pieces obviously and some open play value. He’s yet to have a monster game this season and I don’t think it will be this spot. He is taking over 2 shots per game over his last 4 which is encouraging for his upside and this might change after team news but as of now I’m mostly fading TAA.
Tagliafico – AJA – $4.2k
We love playing Tags in UCL but this is not your mother’s Ajax team. He’s still value at $4.2k but I don’t know that we’ll get 15 out of him like we used to.
Lodi – ATL – $4.1k
Likely pinned back most of the match but he loves a cross when he gets a chance. I do prefer him to Trippier in this game.
Pavard – BAY – $4k
I can’t believe how little exposure I have to Bayern but I hate the matchup. We saw what Sevilla did to the Chelsea attack on Tuesday.
Sakai – MAR – $3.7k
RB for a Marseille team that could get forward. This is a play we only make if we have too.
Onana – AJA – $4.3k
Ajax are a bit disrespected with this line and while it’s Liverpool, they are away and have their own defensive issues to worry about. Klopp has not shown me he’s willing to simply outscore opponents so I’m expecting a more defensive set up.
Sommer – MGB – $3.9k
He’s small but quick and has great positioning. My only worry here is that Inter creates at least 1 breakaway situation per game. We are really hoping for shots outside the box but I have his win equity projected at a fairly small percentage.
Oblak – ATL – $4.1k
THIS IS RISKY. We’ve seen Bayern put 6 on anyone on the planet and it could certainly happen here but for the price, you get the best GK in the world on a defensive team. It’s viable.