The 2023/24 UEFA Champions League (UCL) begins on Tuesday – and so does the competition’s official Fantasy game.
We’ll have plenty of UCL Fantasy coverage in preparation for the big kick-off, plus regular articles throughout the season.
If you’re new to the game or need reminding of the rules, check out our ‘how to play’ guide below.
With a squad of 15 players and substitutions possible between the evenings of a Matchday, having forwards from both halves of the group draw is a great way to maximise points. This way, you know that there’ll be options on each day.
Here’s a guide to who’s who.
Joao Cancelo (€6.0m)/Jules Kounde (€5.0m) – Barcelona
Over the years, Cancelo has established himself as one of the world’s best right-backs for top teams like Manchester City and Juventus. But a falling out with Pep Guardiola resulted in him moving mid-season to Bayern Munich on loan.
Following that, late in the summer, he finally secured a loan move to Spanish giants Barcelona. Given he is still a great attacking asset, Cancelo could quickly establish himself as their main right-back.
He has already scored for the Blaugrana and, at 25% ownership, could be a great shout for the group stages.
Team-mate Jules Kounde is another great pick, having cemented himself at centre-back in the absence of Ronald Araujo (€5.5m).
He is great at ball recoveries and adept at getting the occasional goal from set-pieces. Ideally, you’d have at least one – if not both – of these for Matchday 1.
Ruben Dias (€5.5m)/Manuel Akanji (€5.0m) – Manchester City
Current holders Man City are again in a very favourable group, this time with Crvena Zvezda, RB Leipzig and Young Boys. Given their current form, I expect not just a load of goals but a decent number of clean sheets, so owning one of their defenders could be a source of consistent points throughout the Champions League group stages.
I have picked out Dias and Akanji as their most nailed-on centre-back at the moment. Both are great at ball recoveries and these get rewarded in UCL Fantasy. For budget reasons, I slightly favour Akanji over Dias but you can’t really go wrong with either.
Man City start off at home to the Serbian champions in Matchday 1.
David Raum (€4.5m)/Benjamin Henrichs (€4.5m) – RB Leipzig
Leipzig have started the new season strongly by convincingly beating Bayern in the German Super Cup, before delivering 13 goals and two clean sheets from four Bundesliga matches. I expect this form to continue in Europe.
Both Raum and Henrichs have been great in the opening games, combining for two goals and three assists. These attack-minded defenders are always looking to get forward whenever possible.
Currently, they’re owned by less than 5% of UCL Fantasy managers but could become a good source of points when Leipzig begin against Young Boys.
However, a word of caution on Raum. He was taken off injured in the last match and is touch-and-go. Their line-up will be revealed pre-deadline, so look out for it and make a decision accordingly.
Federico Dimarco (€5.5m)/Denzel Dumfries (€5.5m) – Inter Milan
The Inter Milan wing-backs continue to make a name for themselves in European football for their performances over the last couple of seasons.
Dimarco and Dumfries were one of the main reasons Inter reached June’s Champions League final and both defenders have gone up another level to start this campaign.
Looking closer, Dimarco has set up three goals and is ahead for expected assists (xA), whilst Dumfries is on one goal and two assists. Essentially being a right-winger when Inter attack, the latter has more expected goals (xG). Either way, both are strong options.
One thing to note in terms of UCL Fantasy is that Dimarco beat Dumfries 32-19 when it came to ball recoveries in last season’s competition.
Nicolas Otamendi (€5.0m)/Antonio Silva (€5.0m) – Benfica
Last time, Benfica were one of the surprise teams when topping Group H ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus. They reached the quarter-finals before losing to Inter.
Their 2023/24 domestic duties have begun with four wins from five, including two clean sheets. Ball recovery monster Otamendi is a mainstay in their defensive line-up, having made 71 of these in last season’s UCL Fantasy. One of the highest, I expect him to do the same again.
Another player to consider is Antonio Silva, who shares the same price and 7% ownership. His 61 ball recoveries weren’t too far behind.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo (€5.5m) – Napoli
Finally, Napoli’s captain has been a revelation throughout the last few years. Not just for keeping clean sheets but also when bombing forward to contribute goals and assists.
In my opinion, Di Lorenzo is at least €0.5m lower than what he should be, which is great news for us UCL Fantasy managers. He should certainly be under consideration for a defensive slot at just €5.5m.
The right-back was one of the highest-scoring defenders last time, thanks to two goals, two assists, four clean sheets and 61 ball recoveries. Furthermore, he is already on three goal involvements from just four Serie A outings.
Apart from the pair of Real Madrid meetings, Di Lorenzo is a great defender for Champions League Fantasy and should provide great long-term value.