The 2023/24 UEFA Champions League (UCL) begins on Tuesday – which means it’s also time for the competition’s official Fantasy game.
With plenty of UCL Fantasy articles coming throughout the season, our in-house expert FPL Reactions picks out the most appealing assets of Matchday 1.
If you’re new to the game or need reminding of the rules, check out our ‘how to play’ guide below.
UCL FANTASY MATCHDAY 1
Barcelona held the best defensive record in Europe last season, keeping a huge 26 clean sheets in 38 La Liga matches. With rumours that the likes of Jules Kounde (€5.0m) and Joao Cancelo (€6.0m) will be rested for Antwerp, Marc-Andre ter Stegen (€5.5m) could be the safest way into this elite backline.
Should he fail to return, the game has provided us with a gem. Yann Sommer (€4.5m) is the man between the sticks for an Inter side that collected an impressive eight Champions League clean sheets last season. Armed with a budget-friendly price tag, he’ll play on Wednesday.
Another side to record eight clean sheets was winners Manchester City. With a game against Crvena Zvezda at home, where the English side is strongest, defensive investment could be a priority. One of the cheapest routes into it is Manual Akanji (€5.0m). The centre-back began three of his side’s last four matches and, with key injuries at the back, should start the opening game.
The Inter defence has been very efficient for some time now. However, the most appealing factor is that their back-three system allows wing-back Federico Dimarco (€5.5m) to surge into some of the most dangerous positions. Dimarco proved his creativity in Europe last season by registering five assists. Yet his most recent form of three assists in four Serie A matches has caught the eye even more.
Meanwhile, RB Leipzig open against Young Boys. The Swiss side flopped in their last couple of UCL campaigns, finishing bottom of their group on both occasions. With that in mind, it could be hugely beneficial to bring in one Leipzig’s flying full-backs. The standout one is Benjamin Henrichs (€4.5m), after two assists and one goal in this season’s first four matches. He has major offensive potential.
By hosting Salzburg, Benfica have a great opportunity to keep a clean sheet. Centre-back Nicolas Otamendi (€5.0m) doesn’t even need attacking threat, after racking up a whopping 71 ball recoveries last season. In UCL Fantasy, that gave him 20 points towards his total.
Napoli’s early domestic league performances are enough to put anyone off defensive investment. But a large contributing factor towards their Serie A title was their strength at the back. Their opponents Braga currently sit eighth in the Portuguese league. Considering that alongside his cheap, enabling price, centre-back Juan Jesus (€4.5m) could be a good option.
As well as defensively solid, Inter have looked offensively relentless – scoring a massive 13 times in four matches. The cheapest and most effective way into this lethal frontline is Marcus Thuram (€6.5m). He has the benefit of being categorised as a midfielder whilst actually playing in a more advanced position. This has led to two goals and two assists so far.
Also averaging over three goals per game are Leipzig. The injury to standout attacker Dani Olmo (€7.0m) is frustrating for UCL Fantasy managers but they do have another weapon in the form of 20-year-old Xavi Simons (€6.5m).
One of the most exciting young talents in Europe, he has notched three goals and four assists in five matches for his new side. He could be difficult to ignore, with multiple routes to points, form and a good first fixture.
Elsewhere, Feyenoord come into the new Champions League season as Dutch champions. There’ll be a rematch from the 1970 European Cup final when facing Celtic, who are struggling to regain their historical continental form.
In fact, they finished bottom of last season’s group whilst conceding 15 goals in the process. Managers can target their defence via cheap enabler Luka Ivanusec (€4.5m). With one of the lowest midfield price tags, he has started the last two matches for his side and picked up both an assist and a goal.
Having notched up 94 goals in the 2022/23 Premier League at a rate of 2.5 per game, finding multiple ways into Man City’s attack could be rewarding. Standing out from the disappointing mid-priced options is Phil Foden (€8.0m), whose minutes and output seem to be progressing as the years go on. This season, he has picked up a return in three of four league matches. Facing the out-of-form Serbian champions could mean lots of Man City goals and Foden has both the potential and form to benefit from that.
Many fans assumed that the departure of Karim Benzema and injury to Vinicius Junior (€11.0m) would dampen interest in Real Madrid’s attack. However, the start made by new signing Jude Bellingham (€7.5m) has put a lot of that doubt to bed. Five matches, five goals and one assist. At his price, his central attacking position could make Bellingham one of the game’s best assets.
Barcelona were one of the strongest home teams in Europe last season and opponents Antwerp – already expected to struggle at this level – have conceded goals in over half of their domestic matches.
Therefore there’s a lot of appeal for focal point and penalty-taker Robert Lewandowski (€10.0m). One of the best forwards to ever play Champions League football is showing no signs of slowing down, even at the age of 35. A trio of goals and assists have arrived during five La Liga appearances.
A huge part of Man City’ treble-winning season is attributed to Erling Haaland (€11.5m), one of the most prolific finishers around. He amassed a monstrous 57 goal contributions during 47 Premier League and Champions League matches. Like in Fantasy Premier League (FPL), Haaland is one of the most essential players to own, so don’t go without him.
Even so, it will be important to include a great captaincy option from Wednesday’s games should Haaland blank. For that reason, it could be wise to have Napoli’s Victor Osimhen (€10.0m). The Nigerian became one of Europe’s most wanted strikers while racking up 30 attacking returns in last season’s Serie A. His most recent 10 matches in all competitions have brought 12 goals.
Of course, the stand-out choice is Haaland, having started the new campaign in similar form to last time. It will be difficult to pick a more convincing player for the armband. But, for managers seeking an alternative, Lewandowski could be the one. Similarly to Haaland, Lewandowski leads the offensive line, takes penalties, has a great home fixture and is enjoying some good domestic form.
This night could be more interesting. Both Osimhen and Bayern Munich’s Harry Kane (€10.0m) are candidates. The latter faces a Manchester United defence that he’s very familiar with and has bagged four goals and one assist in five starts for the German side. An even more differential contender is Dimarco and his attacking potential from wing-back.