The league we will review to conclude the series will be the French top flight, Ligue 1. Having kicked off just a few days ago, we already have some form of early indication as to the way teams will be playing their football this season, and one name who made it onto our list today is already right up there at the top already after only a single outing. Paris Saint-Germain won the title with a nine point cushion ahead of Monaco, who themselves finished nine ahead of third-placed Lille who reached the Champions League Third Qualifying Round. With that quick recap done, let’s take a look at last season’s top players – and what a season it was for goalkeepers, with three of our top five guarding the penalty box from between the sticks.
Saint-Étienne goalkeeper Stéphane Ruffier is the first of our custodians to mention, making fifth as he finished with a solid 410 points from his ever-present campaign of 38 starts. He only conceded 34 goals from those games, so at an average of less than a goal per game it is little surprise he gets into the top five, despite his side missing out on Champions League football, instead settling for a place in the Europa League playoffs. He also kept 16 clean sheets. He held a value of €6.50m last season, but this has dropped to only €3.50m this time – surely making him one of the most appealing options in goal this season. That is a real bargain, and yet the 27-year-old – who has two international caps with France to his name – only features in a single 1% of squads so far. Do yourself a favour and snap him up for your fantasy side if you get a chance – he’s a talented stopper with a very modest asking price.
In fourth, Monaco star James Rodriguez galvanized his growing reputation with a stunning season in the principality, ultimately leading in to a successful World Cup campaign with Colombia before securing a big-money move to the Spanish capital with Real Madrid, for whom he will play this season. In France, though, Rodriguez was undoubtedly one of the stars of the season-long show, and it seems unfortunate for him on a personal level that he wasn’t able to claim a league winners’ medal to cap it all off. He ended on 435 points with nine goals and 12 assists, and only a single booking meant his tally didn’t suffer too much due to any adverse discipline. His €7.50m asking price ultimately proved a bargain – and, of course, paled in comparison to his true-to-life value – and even this has only gone up slightly – he will cost you €9.50m to get the star into your fantasy team. Still doesn’t seem too bad a bet, and he will be keen to get life at Real Madrid started off on the right foot. With such talented footballers around him as the Galacticos, it seems as though he will be in the best hands to settle in well, but the unfamiliarity of his surroundings and the competition mean his new life in a new league may prevent him from fulfilling his potential immediately. He will get there, though, so if you sign him it may be an investment you will need to stick with. A talented player such as him has the capability, though, and so he is just as likely to hit the ground running.
In third we have the second of our goalkeepers, with Salvatore Sirigu of PSG taking the psychological bronze medal. He is the first of two PSG stars on the list, and thoroughly deserves his place – this was no fluke. Sirigu turned out 545 points with 19 clean sheets from 37 starts, conceding only 34 goals all season – like Ruffier, he ended with an average of less than a goal per game conceded. The 27-year-old, who has nine international caps with Italy, had a very forgettable time in Brazil with his country this summer during the World Cup but he will hope to bounce back from that and continue his fine domestic form. He had a massive €11.50m asking price last season, but that has dropped all the way down to €5.50m – meaning at better than half price, Sirigu is certainly a tempting inclusion. Only 1% have taken up this player so far, but a good showing throughout PSG’s title defence will surely see this figure go up.
In second place, Vincent Enyeama makes up our trio of stoppers with a total of 580 points to help Lille make the Champions League. The 31-year-old Nigerian keeper moved to France in 2011, and started all 38 league games last season, keeping 21 clean sheets and conceding 26 goals. His asking price of €5.50m last season has gone up to €7.50m now, but he has still proven himself to be a goalkeeper of the highest standard. He will be hoping to continue that form this season and help Lille make the biggest club competition in Europe, but there are some qualifiers to navigate first. A cool 8% of our fantasy managers threw him into their sides last season, showing great foresight on a large scale, but only 2% have taken him up this season – whether or not that will go up remains to be seen, but he is not one to overlook.
And finally, PSG icon Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes up the list with his amazing 605 point total, ranking him at fifth in our fantasy football competition overall last season. 26 goals and 11 assists from his 33 appearances show his true lethality. The Swede is widely regarded as one of the best footballers in the world, and his Ligue 1 champions’ medal rounded the season off nicely. He is also going to be fresh as his native Sweden did not participate in this summer’s World Cup tournament, so considering his conditioning, familiarity, fine form, massive reputation and the impressive side in which he stars, expect his inclusion to pay dividends. It’s a huge €20.00m outlay to get him in your squad, but he looks set to be arguably the only player whose inclusion should be seen as a certainty. 11% have him signed up so far, but that number will almost certainly go up. He is the name mentioned previously about already being right up there this season – sixth place behind five tied for first, with 30 points from his first game of the season. Let him lead your side to success!
With two domestic leagues now underway, there is much to go over here – the Premier League debuted for the 2014-15 season, and with Ligue 1 in France having already kicked off last weekend we are getting closer to a time when football is taking place throughout the continent, and the season will soon be back in full flow. That said, let’s first look at the second round of games in France over the weekend, with the largest margin of victory coming from Rennes, as they defeated Evian Thonon Gaillard 6-2 at home, but the top fantasy football spot in Ligue 1 presently resides with Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
The Nigerian has a fantastic 80 points from his first two games, and that stems from clean sheets in both outings – Lille won 1-0 at Caen on Friday night to build on their opening-day draw, and sees Enyeama move 10 fantasy points clear at the top of Euro Fantasy League’s Ligue 1 table. AS Saint-Étienne striker Mevlüt Erdinç moves into second place thanks to three goals and an assist from his own first two outings of the season, and then we see four defenders tying for third in the form of Sébastien Corchia, Franck Beria, Marko Basa and Simon Kjaer. Two things in common for those four men – they all play defence for Lille directly in front of Enyeama and they all have 60 points each, so while you can’t have all five names owing to the rule of a maximum of three players per club, any combination is likely to be serving our fantasy managers well if that is the route they have taken. Kjaer is the most expensive of these at €8.50m, with Enyeama at €7.50m but the rest cost between €3.50m-€4.50m so there are a few bargains right there!
Moving our attentions to the new Premier League season now, and we had some surprising results (at least in terms of individual fantasy points). Top of the English league individually is Spurs defender Eric Dier, who grabbed a goal and saw his side keep a clean sheet to earn an impressive 50 points, with Hull defender James Chester just behind him on 40. With asking prices of €5.50m and €3.00m respectively, that was a potential 90 points right there for an outlay of only €8.50m combined – meaning that, with hindsight, that was perhaps the defensive partnership to go with heading into last weekend’s fixtures.
Saido Berahino’s brace for West Brom against Sunderland gave him 40 points alongside four others, of which one is Tottenham stopper Hugo Lloris, who takes the spot as the top goalkeeper in the Premier League for our fantasy managers – good call to the 1% of managers who have included him in their squads.
Berahino is joined in the English top 20 by only Gylfi Sigurdsson of Swansea from the strikers in action this weekend, with the emphasis having largely been on goalkeepers and defenders so far. Even as far as midfielders go, only Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling and Man City’s David Silva made the top 20, with 30 and 25 points respectively – so it’s been very much a successful weekend for the defensively minded managers who have chosen the Premier League as the basis for their fantasy team.