Everything runs to plan. Fantasy-review of the Champions League matches played on 8th and 9th of March.

2016-03-10 18:21:03 Author: manager Rating: +9

Nothing new: the best attacking players score goals and make assists, the best defensive lines manage clean sheets and fantasy tournaments are won by those who concede fewer mistakes than rivals.

The first set of return legs delivered no sensations: all favorites after the first legs progressed to next round. The underdogs managed to show some spirit and fight, but that was not enough to overturn the situation: Zenit St.Petersburg blew a number of great chances, messed up the final part of the game and got kicked out of the Champions League; Mohamed Salah and Edin Džeko failed to score from perfect positions and waited for Cristiano Ronaldo to condemn Roma to another defeat; Wolfsburg managed a neat game after seesaw performance in Belgium; meanwhile Chelsea simply lacked quality to compete against classy Paris Saint-Germain.

As we have already noted in the Champions League first legs review, play-off is going on in an astonishingly predictable fashion. Of the 15 players who managed to record goals or assists during the matches played on 8th and 9th of March only four names seem odd, and they are Rabiot, Vázquez, Jiménez and Talisca. Three of them were substitutes, and two finished off Zenit, who flipped out in the final minutes.

Cristiano Ronaldo found a great form and was an obvious captain in many fantasy teams; James Rodríguez was playing up front in the absence of Karim Benzema and converted his chance; of the Wolfsburg attacking trio composed of Schürrle-Draxler-Kruse fantasy managers had to pick two players who would make the result; Hulk’s striking power and hyperactivity of Zhirkov is no surprise; Willian and Diego Costa have been two best players in Chelsea roster this season; Gaitán is a leader and the attacking power of Benfica. Zlatan Ibrahimović was looking to make up for last season’s red card at Stamford Bridge and appeared highly motivated last night. It was not difficult to guess who was going to become the central figures of the tour. The same applies to clean sheets: hardly any fight was expected in Tuesday matches, and host teams managed to prove their favorite status and recorded clean sheets. Real Madrid should thank Salah and Džeko for misfiring as well as their impeccable goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who had another magic night.

It’s time to highlight the most important things to remember before quarterfinals.

Nicolás Gaitán

Regardless of an opponent that Benfica are going to face in the quarterfinal, Gaitán has got to be considered as an option for any fantasy team. If the Eagles are going to score, Nicolás will most likely take part in the attack, leading to goal. Just ask Zenit, who fell at the feet of the Argentine, who was crucial in all three goals against the Russians.

Madrid shooting

37. This is the total number of shots that Real Madrid managed against Wojciech Szczęsny. Most of them didn’t pose any threat, however, this statistics needs to be considered by fantasy managers playing at platforms that take into account the number of shots. For example, Fanaments point scoring system provides points for shots on target, and Real Madrid amassed ten of those against Roma.

Paris Saint-Germain lack of options

In both matches against Chelsea the largest share of threat was coming from Ángel Di María and Zlatan Ibrahimović, with Lucas Moura adding just a little help. Di María-Ibrahimović duo managed 19(!) shots against Thibaut Courtois in two matches.

Surprises

There were not many surprises in the games we’ve seen. To name one, Aleksandr Kokorin started for Zenit St.Petersburg but failed to impress during 57 minutes on the field.

Marco Verratti failed to recover from injury before Chelsea clash, while Adrien Rabiot, replacing him, opened the scoring at Stamford Bridge. The French midfielder found himself in front of the goal and used a brilliant cross from Zlatan Ibrahimović. This was quite unexpected, and the managers who drafted cheap Rabiot after the lineups had been named received a good bonus in the Frenchman.

It’s hard to say if it can be useful in the long-term, but Lucas Vázquez was the first Real Madrid player to come on the field as a substitution ahead of Jesé, who could be considered as a first-choice option. In his thirty minutes at Santiago Bernabéu Vázquez managed to make an assist. However, once Karim Benzema recovers from injury there will be no questions about the attacking lineup of the Meringues.

Statistical leaders

Traditionally, we point out the most active attacking players, looking for goals or assists. Here is the list of some players from each team.

The winning selection of a Fanaments regular player known as Matti is a great fantasy-illustration of the Champions League matches played on 8th and 9th of March, and we will have a closer look at it. The manager used variation of price tags for players who could have been left on the bench to the best possible extent. He was spot on with the clean sheets of Casteels (valued at 6.2), Pepe (6.2) and Knoche (4.5), snatched Schürrle at ludicrous 5.9 and saved funds for the most expensive Ibrahimović (15.5), Cristiano Ronaldo (14.9) and James Rodríguez (12.2). Before Wednesday matches the manager gambled on Garay and Diego Costa, who could have been sidelined. However, he couldn’t pick more than four players from Real Madrid and Wolfsburg and had little budget left, so the gambling proved to be efficient, even though Costa was the only one of the two who made it to the starting lineup

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Oleg Smolerov

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