The Champions League is back and things are about to get serious as the knockout stages begin.
Tuesday sees Chelsea return to Paris for a repeat of last season's showdown against Laurent Blanc's Paris Saint-Germain, while Benfica go up against Andre Villas-Boas' Zenit St. Petersurg.
On Wednesday, Real Madrid will be looking to make some headway in their search of a record 11th European crown against Roma, and Belgian side Gent play hosts to Wolfsburg at the Ghelamco Arena.
But who are the key players you need in your line-up for the return of Europe's première club competition? Read on to find out.
Julian Draxler, $4,500 (v Gent)
With striker Bas Dost out for six weeks with a foot injury, the burden of scoring against Belgian outfit Gent will likely fall to striker Max Kruse ($5,000), the club’s second highest scorer this season.
However, Draxler, their third highest scorer, looks to be the more interesting prospect at $4,500. The German playmaker has had something of an interrupted season to date, but has three goals and three assists in 14 Bundesliga games, and averages more than eight fantasy points-per-game (FPPG) in the Champions League.
Against somewhat limited opposition who managed the second-fewest goals of the teams who qualified from the group stages, Gent are likely to sit deep, which should mean that Wolfsburg spend much of the game on the front foot and create plenty of chances.
Draxler, for so long the hipster’s choice as the next big thing in European football, is worth at least a utility spot, especially if a certain other, more expensive Portuguese Real Madrid superstar is forcing you to scour the market a little harder for value this week.
Nicolas Gaitan $5,200 (v Zenit. St Petersburg)
Gaitan has been something of a daily fantasy football revelation in the Champions League this season, and goes into the knockout stages with the highest FPPG amongst all midfielders (21.8), while he’s only the seventh most expensive midfielder at $5,200.
The reason for the Argentine’s success is that while he doesn’t have many stand-out numbers, he’s pretty solid across the board at everything. In the five group stages games he featured in, his numbers read: three goals, one assist, 16 shots,
38 crosses and 11 fouls drawn, five tackles won and four interceptions. That should guarantee a solid statistical baseline, and if he finds the back of the net or provides an assist, you’ve hit the jackpot.
The match-up is pretty favourable too; Zenit St. Petersburg are only 6th in the Russian Premier League and have shipped 23 goals - the joint highest of the top seven.
One red flag though; his Champions League points are trending in the wrong direction.
After scoring more than 20 in his first three group games, he managed 16.5 in his next game against Galatasaray and 11.5 in his final game against Atletico. Still, you can plug him in with a certain degree of confidence.
Danijel Milicevic, $4,200 (v Wolfsburg)
Milicevic scored at least 19 points in four of his six Champions League group stage games and never dipped below eight points.
The Swiss midfielder got a solid chunk of his points with three goals and while you can’t necessarily rely on him to do that against Wolfsburg, his work elsewhere makes him worthy of consideration.
He averaged almost nine crosses-per-game in the group stages and drew 12 fouls as part of the third most fouled team in the whole competition.
At $4,200 he may be hard to pass up, especially if you’re considering splashing a large portion of your budget on Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Karim Benzema.
Who are you putting in your team this week? Let us know in the comment section below!
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