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The best strategies and captains for UEFA Champions League Fantasy Round of 16

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The two-month break is over and UEFA Champions League (UCL) is back for the knockout stages.

Here’s a run-through of what you need to know for your UCL Fantasy captains and the player picks.

There are some incredible prizes on offer in this free-to-play Fantasy game even for late entrants, from Champions League final tickets to Playstation 5s and replica shirts.

If you’re new to the game or just need a reminder of the rules, check out our ‘how to play’ guide below. 

And don’t forget to join the official FFScout UCL League (pin code: 33TKWHOD07), where there will be additional prizes on offer.

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STRATEGY TIPS

  1. Have a captaincy option from each day

This might sound like basic advice but it becomes even more important heading into the knockout rounds. With matches played across four days, that’s four different possible captaincy options in the Round of 16. This gives you plenty of room for differentials and risks to gain rank – especially over the first two days – before you revert to the ‘safe’ picks later on.

2. Pick players from teams who will be in the competition for a while – particularly goalkeepers

Three transfers between the two Round of 16 games and five before the quarter-finals might seem like a lot, but once you account for shock exits and the inevitable injuries, it doesn’t normally leave much breathing room. Players from teams that will likely reach the final, or semi-final, will likely be both high-scoring and safe. One position which you can always rely on are goalkeepers and having a premium, set-and-forget keeper to see you through the competition is always a safe bet. Ederson (6m) and Alisson (6.2m) are good examples of this.

3. Pick set-piece and penalty takers

Knockout football is famously cagey and is often decided on the back of set-pieces or penalties. As a result, you want as many set-piece and penalty takers in your fantasy squad as possible. Sebastien Haller (9.3m), Robert Lewandowski (12m), Dusan Vlahovic (9.5m), Mohamed Salah (10.9m), Riyad Mahrez (9.4m), Kevin De Bruyne (10.9m) and Jorginho (6.7m) all tick this box.

4. Domestic form does not always equal European form

When you see a top team on a poor domestic run, it’s often easy to think that this will inevitably carry over to the UCL. Yet this is certainly not always the case. Borussia Dortmund were a great example of this last year. They came into the last 16 in terrible form, yet their class shone through when it mattered. The Champions League is a special competition for players and the cream almost always rises in it. Even if a great player is in poor domestic form, like Lionel Messi (11.3m) for example, this certainly does not mean that this will carry over into the UCL.

5. Try and spot the upsets

Upsets mean successful differentials and successful differentials mean green arrows. Whilst this slightly contradicts point two, a healthy balance between these is necessary. Frisk the fixtures and take risks accordingly.

CAPTAIN SENSIBLE

Tuesday 15 February: Kylian Mbappe (10.9m)

There’s a definite shout for a Manchester City player in this spot but Kylian Mbappe is a Champions League player through and through and comes into this game in brilliant form. He’s got five goals and an assist in his last five Ligue 1 games and had at least one goal contribution in every group stage game. Real Madrid are not easy opponents but their system should allow Mbappe space on the counter. He’ll also be extra motivated by playing against his potential future employers.

Wednesday 16 February: Robert Lewandowski (12m)

This is the biggest no-brainer of the last 16. If you don’t own Lewandowski, then buy him. 37 goals from 30 games already this season for Bayern’s talisman is simply inhuman, with six goals from his last four in the league. Against Salzburg’s defence – which we’ve seen before can struggle heavily against top teams – Lewandowski could feast.

Tuesday 22 February: Dusan Vlahovic (9.5m)

This is a tough one to pick. Neither game has a standout, in-form choice. I’ve plumped for Juventus new boy Dusan Vlahovic, who will take penalties for the Old Lady and has already scored on his debut. Villarreal vs Juventus is a tough game to call but if anyone is going to break the deadlock, I fancy it to be Vlahovic.

Wednesday 23 February: Sebastian Haller (9.3m)

Haller is the top scorer in this season’s competition, having scored in every game so far. He’s got 28 goals from 27 games in all competitions and faces a Benfica side starting to slip away from the top of the Primeira Liga.

SPOT THE DIFFERENTIAL

A selection of five players with less than 5% ownership to give your team a boost up the rankings.

  • Noah Okafor (3%, 5.4m): Whilst Bayern have the joint-best defensive record in the Bundesliga, their 4-2 loss to VfL Bochum shows that they still have frailties at the back. Budget midfielder Okafor plays out-of-position as a striker alongside Karim Adeyemi. He notched three goals in four group stage starts and delivered a goal and assist in Salzburg’s domestic win on Saturday.
  • Thomas Müller (2%, 9.6m): The only reason that Thomas Müller is not the toast of Europe at the moment is because he plays just behind Robert Lewandowski. Ten goals and twenty assists from 31 games is an extraordinary return from the veteran German. He has only failed to register a goal or an assist twice in his last 15 league games. With leaky Salzburg up next, a double up of Müller and Lewandowski could be a great differential pick.
  • Jonathan David (0%, 8m): The second-highest scorer in Ligue 1, with a better minutes-per-goal ratio than Mbappe, Jonathan David is having a great season in an average Lille side. Chelsea come into this game stuttering, after a series of unconvincing performances in the Club World Cup and FA Cup. You expect Thomas Tuchel to pull his side together and get the win but there’s every chance that it won’t be easy. David could be the man to capitalise on that.
  • Aymeric Laporte (2%, 5.1m): The Spaniard looks to have secured his spot as Ruben Dias’ preferred partner for Man City, starting ten consecutive league games before being rested against Norwich at the weekend. He’s also scored twice in that period, highlighting his threat from set-pieces. 5.1m is a great price for a City defender and Laporte should be much higher-owned than he is.
  • Jadon Sancho (0%, 10.1m): Despite a very underwhelming set of recent results, Manchester United are looking markedly better under Ralf Rangnick and will undoubtedly get their just rewards for it. Atletico Madrid are not the powerhouse of recent years under Diego Simeone, especially at the back. Sancho has scored in two of United’s last three games and is looking consistently threatening.

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