Champions League round-up Part 1 – Juventus and Real Madrid up and running

This week has seen the kick-off of the Champions League tournament for the season, and with clubs from all five of Euro Fantasy League’s nations involved it’s time to take a look at how well our players managed. It is important to remember at this stage that player performances in the competition do not directly impact on the points they will win for any managers who have included them in their respective selections, but form is both true and evident, and so it is a common sight to see players who are turning it up a notch in Europe’s biggest club competition continuing to do well at a domestic level too. We will go through respective results by order of Champions League group presence, rather than by nation.

In Group A, Juventus took the top spot of the group by beating Swedish outfit Malmö FF 2-0, with noth goals coming from former Man Utd and Man City striker Carlos Tevez. The Argentinian has managed 30 points so far in Serie A, settling in to life in Italy as well as he did in England. His €11.00m may put some of the more lavish spenders off as there are arguably some even bigger name strikers available for a similar amount, but Tevez’s quality can not be argued with, and he finished the 2013-14 season with 440 points. That is a pretty nice finishing total, and his points-to-value rating was certainly very decent at 41.9. He is surely a player that can contribute significantly to the Old Lady’s season, and should never be discounted as a viable inclusion.

Elsewhere in the group, La Liga champions and Champions League runners-up Atletico Madrid fell 3-2 victims at the home of Greek side Olympiacos in a somewhat surprising result. The Spaniards’ goals were scored by Mario Mandzukic and Antoine Griezmann, and surprisingly these two players are struggling for points domestically so far. The former has 15 points to his name from three starts, and is rated at €9.50m. He hasn’t seen the absolute best start to the season, but has proven that he is capable of finding the net against other top opposition from the continent – he has scored one goal from those three games after all, so he might be worth considering if not making himself a necessity at this point. Griezmann, meanwhile, has appeared in all three La Liga games for the club so far – two as a starter, one as a sub – but has failed to register a single point yet. That will, fairly surely, go up over the duration of the campaign, but at a value of €8.50m it remains to be seen whether he can obtain enough points to justify the inclusion he has earned from 3% of fantasy managers so far. He most likely will, but a player has to really shine to make himself a gem as far as fantasy football goes – time will tell.

In Group B, Liverpool triumphed 2-1 over Ludogorets Razgrad of Bulgaria, owing to goals from Mario Balotelli and Steven Gerrard, whose late penalty gave the hosts all three points. Gerrard’s penalty ability really leaves nothing left to be said, while Balotelli continues to show signs of settling in well at Anfield after his late-summer move from AC Milan. Both of these players are talented enough to be recommended for consideration of inclusion in our fantasy managers’ squads, with Gerrard’s 30 points total already boding well, if not spectacularly so far. Anyone who follows the Premier League, however, knows that Gerrard can add massively to that total during proceedings, but his €11.00m valuation may incline some to edge towards slightly younger talent. Balotelli, meanwhile, hasn’t registered a point yet despite his menacing presence on the pitch, but it is still early days in new surroundings so he will almost certainly end the season in positive figures – but how far in the positive remains to be seen, and his inclusion is a risk that fantasy managers will have to weigh up – €11.00m is a fair amount, but one that may certainly prove a pittance compared to points yielded.

In the other Group B game, La Liga stars Real Madrid whopped Swiss club FC Basel 5-1 at the Bernabeu to contradict their domestic form, which has been stuttering to say the least. Galactico fans will be unfamiliar to seeing their team in negative goal difference after more than a game or two, but their -1 stance domestically is certainly present. Admittedly, the breakthrough came from a Basel own goal, but a scoresheet consisting of Gareth Bale (30 points), Cristiano Ronaldo (40 points), James Rodriguez (5 points) and Karim Benzema (15 points) reads like a real dream team to compare with Barcelona’s front line of Suarez, Messi and Neymar. Ronaldo and Bale may have had significantly better points-scoring starts to the season, but Benzema is a proven talent and Rodriguez looks likely to find his feet sooner rather than later.

Both sides in the Euro Fantasy League competition in Group C were taking part in a single game on Tuesday evening, with Monaco taking on Bayer Leverkusen in France. The game finished 1-0 to the hosts, with João Moutinho (10 points) scoring the decisive goal on 61 minutes. Moutinho’s 10 points have come from a single clean sheet so far, with no goals or assists to speak of as yet – at a value of €8.00m things could certainly be worse, but it may be worth holding out on the 28-year-old Portuguese international for the time being until he hits a run of form, as 1% of managers have so far taken a risk that is yet to show signs of really paying off.

As far as Group D went, we had another Euro Fantasy League derby as Borussia Dortmund played host to Arsenal, with the home side taking a convincing 2-0 win. Goals from ironically named striker Ciro Immobile (who is yet to register a single domestic point, €8.50m) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (20 points, €8.50m) put paid to the Gunners’ opening effort. Taking into account that the Germany season is slightly newer than the English season, coupled with Immobile’s 2013-14 total of 405 points, there are suggestions that the striker will be a worthy investment, but until he can hit the ground running there seems little point to considering him a thoroughly viable investment at this stage. Of course, he could burst onto the scene with a hat-trick or better, so the risk is yours to take.

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