Here are some key stats to consider from this week’s marquee games before selecting your Champions League fantasy team.
Tuesday: Paris Saint-Germain at Liverpool
The 2018-19 UEFA Champions League Group Stage gets underway on Tuesday highlighted with a showdown between Liverpool and PSG, two of Europe’s premier attacks and contenders for this year’s UEFA Champions League crown. Liverpool and PSG are two of the six remaining teams in Europe’s top five leagues with perfect league records (both 5-0-0). Since the start of last season, PSG (152) and Liverpool (136) rank first and fourth, respectively in goals in league and European competition.
If you are looking to back a player from Liverpool’s attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané (all of which scored 10 UCL goals last season), how do you decide which one? Mohamed Salah has gone off to a relatively slow start, failing to score in three of his last four Liverpool appearances. Unlike his teammates Salah and Roberto Firmino, who are listed as forwards, tier 1 midifielder Sadio Mané could be a standout pick. He leads the team in the Premier League in fantasy points and goals and is tied with Salah for most shots and SOG.
If you are looking for PSG coverage in Tuesday’s game: Neymar (4 league goals), Kylian Mbappé (4) and Edinson Cavani (3) all jump off the page as tier 1 forwards. Since the start of 2016-17, only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have more fantasy points in the UEFA Champions League than Neymar. His South American counterpart, Cavani, has 15 goals in 16 games over last two UCL campaigns. However, again, a tier 1 midfielder is worth serious consideration. PSG’s Ángel Di María has created the most chances among PSG players this season, and leads the team in shots and attacking third touches.
Wednesday: Juventus at Valencia
After finding the back of the net for the first time with Juventus on Sunday, Cristiano Ronaldo will look to keep it up as he takes on a familiar foe. Juventus travels to face Spanish club Valencia, a team that Ronaldo has scored against 15 times in 17 career meetings. The Portuguese superstar has fared well on the road to Valencia scoring in six of his last eight visits to the Mestalla. Ronaldo scored 314 fantasy points last Champions League season, over 40 more than any other player in the competition. He is the all-time top scorer in UEFA Champions League history with 120 goals and has had at least a share of the UCL scoring title in each of the past six seasons. In that span, Ronaldo has scored 82 UCL goals — the next-closest player is Lionel Messi with 49. Valencia has yet to win a game this season (0-1-3) and is 17th in the La Liga table.
Wednesday: Roma at Real Madrid
Ronaldo’s former team, three-time defending UCL champion Real Madrid hosts Roma on Wednesday. Real Madrid started the season strong but dropped points in its last game at Athletic Bilbao. Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema (Tier 1 Forward) and Gareth Bale (Tier 1 Midfielder) have both seemed to benefit by the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. Benzema has four goals in first four La Liga games this season, and is already one shy of matching his league total from all of last season. Like Ronaldo, Benzema also has historic UCL pedigree — he enters the 2018-19 Champions League tied for fourth with Ruud van Nistelrooy for most career UCL goals with 56. Without Ronaldo, Bale scored in his first three league games for Real Madrid. Bale is averaging more shots per 90 minutes this season (3.3) than in any of his previous five seasons at the club. Although he has yet to score this season for Real Madrid, tier 2 midfielder Marco Asensio is second on the team in shots and chances created in La Liga and is expected to start vs. Roma.
For a manager that is looking to fade Real Madrid, Roma’s Tier 2 Forward Edin Dzeko was the sixth-highest scorer in UCL fantasy last season. Dzeko broke out with eight UCL goals for the Italian club in 2017-18, one shy of his career total entering the season.