We begin our countdown to the new football season in earnest with a look at last season’s top performers, using statistics to look at which players could reproduce their magical form from the last campaign and deserve an inclusion in your fantasy football team, and which may struggle and may be best avoided for our fantasy managers’ consideration.
The next league on which we will focus is the German Bundesliga, where last season Bayern Munich waltzed their way to the title by a cracking 19 points ahead of runners-up Borussia Dortmund. Only two defeats all season meant the title helped the club win the title in record time, beating the previous record set only one year previous. Munich boss Pep Guardiola certainly enjoyed his debut season as a manager in the top flight, and has already set out his stall as his men defend their title by signing Robert Lewandowski from nearest rivals Dortmund.
With that said, let’s get down to the list of the top five players in the league last season, and see if we can look ahead to what our fantasy managers could expect from these players this coming campaign.
The fifth best player in the league last term was Bayern winger Arjen Robben, the €10.00m-rated Dutchman who enjoyed as good a World Cup tournament this summer as he did in the Bundesliga. He finished with 450 points from 20 starts and eight appearances as a sub, with 11 goals scored and six assists provided to get the former PSV and Chelsea man into the top five. His asking price has gone up to €13.00m this season, but while this rise may mean the 30-year-old will cost our fantasy managers a touch more he seems like one of the top names in the game to get into your squad. He is arguably among the best players in the world, and costs considerably less than counterpart Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid. All signs point to a good season for Robben, so definitely give him some serious consideration.
Next up, in fourth we have Raffael de Araújo of Borussia Mönchengladbach. The midfielder had a hugely impressive season, garnering 455 points to help out the 3% of managers who ensured he would feature in their sides. 34 starts produced 15 goals and seven assists, though a single booking reduced the total ever so slightly. Despite that, his value last season was only €7.50m, and he established himself as one of the finest fantasy buys going in 2013-14. All the more impressive was the fact that this was his debut season for the club, having previously featured for Hertha Berlin – where he played with his brother Ronny – either side of a spell in Ukraine with Dynamo Kyiv. He will now be participating in his second season, and with the added experience and familiarity it seems difficult to envisage a scenario where he will struggle. His asking price hasn’t changed either, so while he may not end up being the highest points grosser for your fantasy squads he represents a fairly low risk investment.
Third place now, and we have the aforementioned Robert Lewandowski, who helped his then-employers Borussia Dortmund reach a second place finish. They were some way behind champions Bayern Munich, but Lewandowski did everything he could to maintain pursuit in his 33 appearances (31 starts and two as a sub), contributing 20 goals and six assists to the cause. He has shifted this summer across to rivals Munich, and while his surroundings will be new the opposition will not – and it is, after all, against them that a player must carve out his reputation. Expect him to have another cracker under new boss Guardiola, who has a reputation for getting the best out of his players. His value last time was €13.50m – and that has actually gone down to €12.50m. While this may not be the biggest drop it could reflect a degree of uncertainty surrounding his participation levels this term, but he was one of the biggest names outside of Munich last season so he should get plenty of opportunities. 6% of fantasy teams featured him last season, and this has already skyrocketed to 19% this time, so he is clearly a popular player – trying to find a way to get him into your fantasy squads should be a priority.
In second place, it is perhaps little surprise that we have our third player with a Bayern Munich link given their dominance. Thomas Müller enjoyed last season, culminating in him winning a World Cup Winners’ medal with Germany in Brazil. Carrying a value of €9.50m last season, Müller will now cost you a whopping €5.00m extra, but that €14.50m again represents a sound investment if you have the budget remaining. Last season involved 31 appearances for the midfielder, with six coming from the subs bench to complement his 25 starts. 13 goals and 10 assists mean he was one of the handier and versatile players to turn out, and will no doubt be looking forward to getting Bayern’s title defence kicked off in style. He is a player likely to feature as often as he is available, so for all €14.50m is a bit to ask it still seems fair given the amount of football he seems destined to enjoy over the next nine months. Whether he can topple last season’s total of 500 points remains to be seen, but if he can turn it up the way he did last season there seems little reason to doubt that he can finish with more.
And finally, the top player in the Bundesliga last season was Marco Reus, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder who ended the season only slightly ahead of Müller on 510. His side may have finished shy of Munich in the league, but Reus established himself as a big name in the Bundesliga. Reports throughout the summer have linked him with moves to other top European clubs, with Premier League outfit Liverpool repeatedly touted as a potential destination, but he will start the season wearing the yellow and black just as he did last year. 30 appearances (26 starts, four from the bench) saw him score 16 goals and provide 13 assists, so he was slightly ahead of Müller at least in the provisions department.
He held a €13.50m asking price last time, but this has dropped slightly to €13.00m, and this drop has seen his inclusion rate go up from 6% last season to 9% now. If he is able to reproduce that sparkling form on German pitches this season, he is likely to make those 9% of fantasy managers very happy indeed – he has the potential to do even better this term, and with the prospect of hitting the ground running in order to keep up the early pressure on the champions, Reus seems to be one of the names almost every fantasy manager will at least give some serious consideration to.