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Guide to Champions Challenge – A Champions League Group Stage Preview

The countdown for the contest of contests in the sphere of club football has begun! It is time for Champions League! Now that the group stage draw is completed, we can start building our squads. As the season long tournament on Fanteam (first place wins 20.000€!) finishes before the final round, we can focus completely on the group stage. Can you beat the best Champions League Managers this year? Our guide gives you the information you need to build a solid line-up – your soccer expertise can make it a winning one! We break down the groups for you and present the key players for each team.

Group A (Real Madrid, Paris, Galatasaray, Club Brugge)

Groups like these seem to have a clear prediction, with the two heavyweights Real and PSG probably finishing first and second. However, as we know from the previous seasons, the UCL brings out the best of underdogs and surprises are regular! In that context, Galatasaray is known to be a very tough opponent when you are facing them on their home ground in Istanbul. The lions don´t have the best team on paper, but be sure to look out for some home game goals scored by their most dangerous strikers.

Players to watch: As the details about Mbappé´s injury are not clear and we cannot be sure if he will play from the beginning, the reincarnated Neymar and Cavani seem to be the candidates for top scorers in this group. Real´s offensive powers are similarly distributed among several players, with Benzema and Bale scoring in the domestic league but Hazard and Jovic looking for their first impact as new signings. As Jovic could not deliver in his first matches for Real, Hazard looks to be a very promising pick as he is just a fantasy points machine. If you are looking for a differential and are keen to bet on strong home games of Galatasaray, keep an eye on the ever-delivering striker Falcao or the absolutely in-form winger Babel, especially at home or against Brugge. When it comes to the Belgian club, Vanaken and Diagne are the players to watch. Diagne, who is on loan from Galatasaray, will try to show his original club what he is worth.

Group B (Tottenham, Bayern, Red Star Belgrade, Olympiakos)

Again, we have a group with two definite favourites. Tottenham and Bayern should go on to the next round and the player choice pool is team-specific!

Players to watch: While with Tottenham we have a clear number one scorer in Kane, Bayern´s Lewandowski seems to be in great shape again. The two strikers are always the ones with the bookmaker’s highest probability to score so you cannot go wrong with picking one of them. Other players to watch are Son, Lucas Moura and Lo Celso for the Spurs. The Bayern offense really shows the depth of their squad with Coman, Perisic, Gnabry, Müller and of course new signing Coutinho being extremely dangerous in front of the opponent´s goal. With Kimmich and Alaba they also have great offensive value in their backline. Olympiakos Piraeus have acquired centre-forward El Arabi, after their top-striker Fortounis suffered an injury and seems to be out until the beginning of 2020. Valbuena is a good option, as he seems to be the set-piece taker and the engine in midfield. Belgrade as the underdog in this group has Marin, El Fardou and Pavkov to offer if you are eyeing on some differentials.

Group C (Manchester City, Atalanta, D. Zagreb, Shakhtar Donetsk)

There should be no discussion about the winner of group C. Manchester City is the bookie´s favourite for winning the UCL and so their assets are very high in course. Nevertheless, with Guardiola you never know – the “pep roulette” will kick in and with so many options in this squad, it will be hard to pick the right players.

Players to watch: Of course Sterling, Aguero, Jesus, De Bruyne and the Silva´s are up front, but be sure to have at least one disappointment when picking those guys as they won´t show up in the starting line-up sometimes. If you want to look for cheap options, that will have a great motivation to go through to the final round as second place in this group, take a look at Zapata, de Roon, Gomez and Muriel (Atalanta); Atiemwen, Olmo and Petkovic (Zagreb) or Marlos, Taison and Junior Moraes (Donetsk).

Group D (Juventus, Atl. Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow)

If you are a real football fan, you know what happened between Atletico and Juve last season. After a 2:0 home win for Madrid, Juve was forced to score at least three goals. CR7 stepped up and scored a hat trick, leaving Atletico behind. This will be an amazing matchup, where the two rivals will probably compete for the first place in this group. Both teams optimized their squad and go into this season as eventual title winners. However, don´t underestimate the German squad from Leverkusen or Moscow, especially when the Russians have home games in the cold winter.

Players to watch: The obvious choice is the man himself, Cristiano Ronaldo. In addition to that, Dybala, Bernadeschi, Douglas Costa, Higuain and Cuadrado could be players, which should be able to score while playing around the superstar. For Atletico, Morata still seems to be a doubt, but should definitely be considered when 100% fit. New signing Joao Felix is young and hungry and wants to show himself on the biggest European stage. Lemar and Diego Costa are also frequent scorers, with the latter finally returning from a long suspension. Leverkusen has two upcoming stars with Havertz and Bailey and they should also be worth a punt. The Moscow squad offers the Miranchuk brothers and Smolov as potential Highlights on the score sheet.

Group E (Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk)

Last year´s champions are without a doubt the heavy favourites in this group. Napoli plays some nice attacking Football as well and should go through at second place. Salzburg and Genk should compete for a Europa League slot, with the Red Bull team being the slight favourite.

Players to watch: Jürgen Klopp´s boys want to defend the title and with an almost unchanged squad, their fascinating trio up front with Salah, Mané and Firmino holds huge value for your fantasy team. Nevertheless, let´s not forget about their attacking defenders, with Alexander-Arnold and Robertson collecting more than 20 assists together last season! Napoli´s attacking is very considerable and with Mertens or Insigne you really can´t go wrong. Salzburg´s Haland and Hwang as well as Genk´s Samatta and Paintsil could be nice differentials, if you need some budget freedom.

Group F (Barcelona, Inter, Dortmund, Slavia Prague)

Is Group F this year´s “Killer-Group”? It is hard to say who will go through to the next round, but Barcelona seems to be the favourite for the first place. Dortmund has shown some great results last year but are rather inconsistent. Inter is back in action in the Champions League and Conte´s team will do everything to stay in this tournament. When it comes to Slavia Prague, this Video says it all.

Players to watch: We don´t have to talk about Messi. When he is fit in time for the first match, he can´t be faded. His new partner in crime from France will definitely profit from the “Messias”, so Griezmann should be able to receive some nice points in the group stage. Suarez is always good for a goal and Dembele (when fit) has the ability to decide matches through his speed. Inter Milan did some nice shopping and with the new guys Lukaku and Sanchez up front, we can expect a lot of firing power. Dortmund´s Sancho is on fire and it´s probably just a question of time when he will be transferred to an English top club. In addition to that, Brandt and Reus are always dangerous. If you want to go against the odds, pick Husbauer, Olayinka or Stanciu from Prague, but I wouldn’t advise you to.

Group G (Lyon, Benfica, Zenit, RB Leipzig)

For many experts this is the most open group as there is not a definite favourite. Every team in Group G can advance to the next round, so it is crucial to your fantasy success to pick some differentials here.

Players to watch: Dyzuba is the man for goals for Zenit, and newly signed Malcom (joined from Barca for 40 mil.) is another prospect to watch. The offensive options in Lyon are very promising with Depay and Dembele offering a great chance for big returns. Benfica will be interesting to watch after their record transfer of Joao Felix to Atletico Madrid. They still have huge potential and Pizzi, Rafa and Seferovic form their dangerous wing-attacking play. For RB Leipzig Werner is the one to look out for as he has already scored five goals in three appearances in the Bundesliga. Sabitzer, Poulsen and the Joker Forsberg seem to be the leading force to feed Werner with balls.

Group H (Chelsea, Lille, Ajax, Valencia)

The structure here is similar to Group G, as it is hard to make out a clear heavyweight. The boys from Chelsea return to the Champions League and Frank Lampard builds on the youth in his squad. Is the youthful squad mature enough to walk through this group or will they be taught some lessons? Ajax had some hard transfers to recover from as they sold some of their Champions League Heroes from last season where they were eliminated in the semi-final. With de Ligt and de Jong leaving for Juventus and Barcelona, they lost their stabilizing axis in midfield but compensated with transfers of Alvarez and Marin. Lille and Valencia are somewhat also unpredictable and we can get great value from picking the right players in this group.

Players to watch: Lampard´s young guys had a rough start in the Premier League but seem to have regained their confidence and show offensive upside with Abraham, Pulisic and Mount. Don´t fade Giroud, as he is a typical tournament striker and has shown his skills on international level. Expect Lampard to rotate in front, so the Frenchman could be possible differential. Nothing really changed with Ajax´s offensive guard and we can expect good point returns from Tadic, Ziyech and Tagliafico. Cheap options come with Rodrigo, Soler and Gameiro (Valencia) or Osimhen and Weah (Lille).

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