Have you placed your bets on the midweek Champions League quarter-final second-leg ties yet?
Let’s face it – trying to identify first goalscorers, final scores or any of the other myriad of variables you can put money on is damn hard.
This is never more true than in Europe’s premier competition. With the best clubs on the continent facing off against each other, working out who’s going to come out on top is no mean feat.
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Here are four players you should choose, and four you should avoid, in each position for this round of Champions League games.
Goalkeeper to pick
Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester City – €13
Choosing a goalkeeper who’s going to perform best against some of the best attacking talent in Europe isn’t easy. But a good bet for where the least goals will be would be Leicester City v Atlético Madrid.
Between Leicester stopper Kasper Schmeichel and Atletico’s Jan Oblak, the former is my pick.
The La Liga side might be notoriously stingy in terms of goals conceded but they aren’t so prolific in front of goal away from home either. They only scored twice in three away ties during the group stage, while their opponents for tonight’s game have to score. The Foxes have also only conceded one goal in four Champions League home games so far.
Goalkeeper to avoid
Roman Bürki, Borussia Dortmund – €13
If the King Power Stadium is unlikely to see many goals, Monaco’s second-leg tie versus Borussia Dortmund is sure to be the opposite.
The Ligue 1 side have scored 90 goals so far domestically, 24 more than second place Paris Saint-Germain, while they have also scored 18 in Europe this term — including nine in their last three.
With -2 points for every goal conceded in Yahoo Fantasy Football, Dortmund’s number one Roman Bürki will be more likely to take points away from your total rather than add to it.
Defender to pick
Leonardo Bonucci, Juventus – €14
Unlike with your keeper, it’s the Barcelona-Juventus match where we’re looking for our defensive pick.
You have to bear in mind more than the number of goals you think will be conceded as, although a defender earns 3 points for a clean sheet, there is no deduction for goals conceded. There are additional points on offer for blocks made (1), tackles won (0.5) and passes intercepted (0.5).
With Barcelona requiring three goals just to take it to extra time, like in the second leg of their last-16 tie with PSG, they will be on the attack for much of the game which means Juve’s defence will be heavily involved.
Giorgio Chiellini is ahead of his defensive teammates in terms of average points earned per match (7.4, versus Leonardo Bonucci’s 6.9), but at €2 cheaper the 29-year-old gets the nod.
Defender to avoid
Gerard Piqué, Barcelona – €16
We’re not suggesting you avoid Gerard Piqué because Barcelona will concede a lot of goals to Juventus tomorrow night, more that he might not have much to do.
The Italian champions are expected to set their stall out defensively with a 3-0 aggregate lead to protect and look to hit the Catalan side on the break. But this will mean Piqué won’t have many opportunities to rack up points for blocks, interceptions or tackles. What’s more, the Spaniard is one of the most expensive defenders to choose from.
Midfielder to pick
Fabinho, Monaco – €17
Monaco’s clash with Borussia Dortmund promises to be end-to-end and with points on offer to midfielders both from defensive and attacking play, a player like Fabinho could earn you some serious points.
The Brazilian has scored nine goals and provided four assists in all competitions for Monaco this season. He also averages four defensive actions per game in Ligue 1 and five per game in Europe — a steal at €17.
Midfielder to avoid
Juan Cuadrado, Juventus – €17
With Barcelona expected to enjoy most of the ball at the Camp Nou, attacking players like Juan Cuadrado may well have a quiet night.
As the game progresses, and if Juve still hold a comfortable lead, it’s players like Cuadrado that might be sacrificed in favour of more defensively-minded players, costing you points.
Forward to pick
Lionel Messi, Barcelona – €26
Costing you €26 of the €200 you have to spend on your 11 players, Lionel Messi is at the expensive end of the spectrum.
However, given Barcelona’s need to score goals in the Camp Nou it is more than likely that Messi will have a big part to play on Wednesday night – even if the Catalan giants don’t manage to overturn the three goal deficit.
With points on offer for goals, assists, shots, successful passes and fouls won, it’s likely the Argentine playmaker will deliver a hatful of points to the managers that pick him.
Forward to avoid
Fernando Torres, Atlético Madrid – €16
Aside from the fact that Fernando Torres has managed just one Champions League goal this campaign, don’t expect Atlético to muster as many chances as they did last week at the Vicente Calderón.
Coach Diego Simeone is known for setting his sides up to be hard to beat and with Atleti protecting a 1-0 lead they are unlikely to take the game to Craig Shakespeare’s team.
And, at €16, the former Liverpool and Chelsea striker isn’t even particularly cheap.