UEFA Champions League Fantasy: Three tips for the best starter squad

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images) /
1 of 3

The UEFA Champions League is back! And so is the Champions League Fantasy. The 2021/22 main competition kicks off later tonight – September 14 – with Sevilla, Salzburg, Manchester United, and Young Boys in action for the early games.

Later on in the night, Chelsea takes on Zenit Saint Petersburg, Villarreal faces Atalanta, Lille plays Wolfsburg, and Barcelona welcomes Bayern Munich.

Also kicking off tonight – the Champions League Fantasy! Those who partook in the 2020 Euro Fantasy will find the rules and regulations familiar; one has to pick a squad of 15 players with a budget of €100m, consisting of two goalkeepers, five defenders, five midfielders, and three forwards.

The game is split into thirteen matchdays, with half the games being played on Tuesday and the other half on Wednesday. The catch: players can make unlimited substitutions between the two days and even switch captains; the caveat being that the players subbed out will lose all of the points earned.

All English Premier League
All English Premier League /

All English Premier League

With that twist in mind, and with the deadline fast approaching ahead of Matchday 1, we consider three tips that would help make a strong starting squad.

1. Back Champions League pedigree

Champions League brings out the best in some players. Cristiano Ronaldo is at his best when playing under the lights; Erling Haaland is at his most ruthless minutes after the iconic anthem is rung inside the stadium; Lionel Messi thrives on big occasions – as do Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, and many, many others.

As such, it is sensible to pick a few big names for your starter squad; with €100m in the bank and unlimited substitutions available until the deadline, Fantasy managers can twist and tweak their teams until they land on a desirable configuration with some of the game’s best – and most expensive – assets.

Ronaldo (€11m) will be the first name on the teamsheet for several players. The Portugal international has returned “home” to Manchester United to help the team compete for major titles. Champions League is as big as they come. It is also a competition the five-time Ballon d’Or enjoys playing in; he has scored 135 goals from 182 appearances in the tournament and won it on five different occasions.

Haaland (€11m) claimed in the past that he had had the Champions League anthem as his alarm for years – such was his obsession with the competition. He scored eight goals in the group stage alone the first time he participated in the tournament and has netted 12  more since then. His total tally stands at 24 goals in 22 games. Ten of those goals came in eight games during the 2020/21 season.

And then of course there is Messi (€11m) – at a new club after dedicating all his life to Barcelona. It remains to be seen how he works fully in tandem with Mbappe (€10.5m) and Neymar (€10.5m), but all three PSG assets could be set for big hauls in the competition this season.

The aforementioned assets, and many in a similar price range, will eat up a chunk of your budget even before you get to the halfway point of your team. That said, Champions League pedigree is something that just can’t be overlooked at the start of the tournament.