With the UEFA Champions League looking to conclude its group stages with some blockbuster fixtures in the last match week, qualification for some of the European giants are still at stake.
The 2020-21 UCL season has already seen some of the elite footballing talents making their mark on the biggest stage over the past few months. And with the tournament looking to return with its knockout stages only next February in 2021, fantasy managers would be desperate to make it big before the brief hiatus.
We bring to you the top five fantasy picks that would help you ace it.
Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Match: Barcelona vs Juventus
With Andre Pirlo placing him either in the centre-forward role or the left-wing, Cristiano Ronaldo has been thriving with every match. Ronaldo has failed to score in just one of the six Serie A matches he has played so far, scoring eight in the remaining five. While his UCL campaign was paused after he was virus-struck in October, the Portuguese international has managed two goals and an assist in the three matches he has played in the European competition. Ronaldo has never needed any motivation to work better, but this will be his first encounter against Lionel Messi since he left Real Madrid – which will understandably be an added incentive. If his current form isn’t enough, Ronaldo is also UEFA Champions League’s all-time top scorer with 132 goals and a must-have in any fantasy team whatsoever.
Player: Lionel Messi
Match: Barcelona vs Juventus
Lionel Messi might not have been at his absolute best this season, following a controversial transfer saga that almost saw him leave Barcelona, but the Argentine international remains one of the best players to have ever graced the sport. An in-transition Barcelona team has struggled to excel in the domestic league and Messi had to take more responsibility than usual to keep them flowing. Though he has scored four goals and provided two assists in La Liga so far – which is underwhelming by his standards – Messi has three goals and two assists in three UCL matches. Barcelona’s first fixture with Juventus away from home had seen Messi score one and assist another in his side’s 2-0 win, and the clash on Tuesday is expected to see him repeat his heroics. Of course, facing Ronaldo should bring out the best of Messi as well.
Player: Kylian Mbappe
Match: Paris Saint-Germain vs Istanbul Basaksehir
If there is any player who could match Ronaldo’s goals and Messi’s footballing acumen, it must be Kylian Mbappe. The 21-year-old French wunderkind scored his 100th goal for the Ligue 1 club last weekend and given how prolific he has been since joining from AS Monaco following a fairytale season, he is always a good bet for a fantasy team. Surprisingly, Mbappe is yet to open his goal tally in UCL this season, despite scoring 10 times in the domestic league and assisting five times. Mbappe’s only goal involvement in UEFA Champions League 2020-21 season has been against Istanbul Basaksehir. Apart from Mbappe facing the same opponent, PSG’s qualification is also at stake as they sit second with nine points alongside Manchester United and RB Leipzig. A Mbappe masterclass is exactly what fans would be hoping today.
Player: Bruno Fernandes
Match: Manchester United vs RB Leipzig
Manchester United have a must-win UCL fixture at their hands and Bruno Fernandes knows he must be their saviour. An away fixture at Leipzig is not the easiest of challenges and Fernandes will have to be Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer’s orchestrator in chief. Fernandes had got an assist in Manchester United 5-0 demolition of Leipzig in the home fixture and although it should give them some confidence, the Red Devils come to the fixture on the back of a 3-1 home defeat to PSG. Fernandes was a used substitute in United’s league fixture last weekend, which rightly reflected Ole’s concern with the UCL fixture. Fernandes has seven goals in the English Premier League, being United’s highest scorer so far this season, which shows how much the team relies on the central midfielder to get the job done for them. If United will have one goalscorer on Tuesday, it is more than likely to be Fernandes.
Player: Joao Felix
Match: RB Salzburg vs Atletico Madrid
With Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona falling from grace this La Liga season, Atletico Madrid have the rare opportunity to get their hands on a La Liga title and Diego Simeone is largely dependent on Joao Felix for the same. Despite having proven goalscorers like Diego Costa and Luiz Suarez in the side, the Portuguese protégé has proven his mettle. Felix has five goals in 10 games for Los Rojiblancos in La Liga and three goals in their UCL campaign. Unlike United and PSG, Atletico are in a better position where a draw would more than suffice for their qualification. And Felix will be raring to go against the Austrian side against whom he had scored a brace in the previous fixture.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Vincenzo Pinto