UCL Fantasy Focus: Haaland and Gnabry make for smart buys
The 2020-21 season of the UEFA Champions League is set to get underway from Tuesday and Matchday 1 features plenty of mouthwatering fixtures that pits some of Europe’s heavyweights against each other. With the best players across Europe braced to have a say on the games, expect plenty of goals and excitement.
Here we look at some of the best game-changers who will feature in Matchday 1 and can help your fantasy team score big.
Player: Erling Haaland
Team: Borussia Dortmund
Match: Lazio vs Borussia Dortmund
Norway’s Erling Haaland is a simple must-have for your team. The 20-year-old has been in tremendous form since last season and has thrived after joining Borussia Dortmund. He had 10 goals and an assist from eight games in last season’s Champions League and will be the focal point in attack for the German giants.
He’s already bagged five goals from six games for Dortmund in their Bundesliga and DFL-Supercup games this season. Haaland has previously spoken of how much he loves playing in the Champions League and it will take a brave man to bet against him finding the back of the net in Dortmund’s clash against Lazio.
Player: Lionel Messi
Match: Barcelona vs Ferencvaros
Second in the list of goal-scorers (115 goals) in the competition’s history, Lionel Messi has made no secrets of his desire to win the Champions League once again and you can rest assured that clinching what would be his fifth European title will be high on his list of priorities. He didn’t enjoy the best of Champions League campaigns last season, scoring just thrice in the competition before being humiliated and eliminated by eventual winners Bayern Munich.
Messi, though, will be eager to make amends with the knowledge that his days of winning another European title keeps diminishing with each passing campaign. Despite a slow start to the La Liga campaign that’s seen him net once in four appearances, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Messi were to produce something special under the bright lights of Champions League football.
Team: Paris Saint-Germain
Match: Paris Saint-Germain vs Manchester United
Following the heartbreak of defeat in last season’s Champions League final, Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain will be more eager than ever before to lift European football’s holy grail. Even though Neymar’s PSG are in a tough group, they are expected to progress and will want their Brazilian talisman to lead by example.
The last time Manchester United went to Paris, the Red Devils left France with a memorable win to advance in the competition as an injured Neymar watched on helplessly from the sidelines. However, the Brazilian who’s already opened his account for the season in Ligue 1 can be expected to grab the game by the scruff and put United’s fragile defence on the back foot from the outset.
Player: Andrew Robertson
Match: Ajax vs Liverpool
Liverpool’s marauding left-back has become one of the most sought-after full-backs in football and is a smart choice for your fantasy team. Not only can he get you points for clean sheets, but his ability to consistently gallop down the flanks and produce quality at the end of those runs makes him a massive threat to any opposition.
He provided 12 assists and scored thrice – including once in the Champions League – last season and has already bagged a goal this campaign. He already has two assists in the Premier League, making him a prudent choice for any fantasy team owner.
Player: Serge Gnabry
Team: Bayern Munich
Match: Bayern Munich vs Atletico Madrid
German winger Serge Gnabry played a huge role in Bayern Munich’s Champions League success last season and the 25-year-old will undoubtedly have a big say in the reigning champions’ title defence. He scored 23 goals and provided 14 assists for Bayern in 2019-20.
Nine of those goals for Gnabry came in the Champions League – a competition that seems to bring the best out of him. Gnabry scored four goals in a group match against Tottenham Hotspur and braces against Chelsea and Lyon in the knockout stages of last season. He’s started this campaign with three goals from six matches and makes for a smart acquisition for all fantasy enthusiasts.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Christof Stache