Monday, September 13, 2010
Top tips for transfers
The Champions League begins on Tuesday evening, and as ever you can join our free fantasy league game.
• Play Champions League fantasy
The game mirrors that of the Premier League in many ways, with a 15-man squad picked from a budget of £100 million from which you must submit a team of 11 players for every gameweek.
You can make as many transfers as you wish between now and the big kick-off, and you will then have 12 transfers to use over the course of the group stage and a further eight for each knockout round. Spare transfers cannot carry over to the next stage.
What really makes a successful Champions League team is unearthing those unknown stars. And to help you select your squad ahead of kick-off we've picked out a selection players who could give you the edge, with most of the bargains coming in midfield.
Jadson - Shakhtar Donetsk - midfielder - £7.0m
One of the surprise stars of the Champions League two seasons ago, Jadson returns to Europe's premier club competition with the Ukrainian champions. In the 2008-09 competition, the midfielder bagged four goals and two assists as Shakhtar failed to make it out of the group stage.
Jadson's £7 million price tag this time around reflects the fact that he has performed on the European stage, with Shakhtar going on to win the last UEFA Cup. Jadson scored in the semi-final and also netted the extra-time winner in the final against Werder Bremen. With Shakhtar facing Partizan Belgrade, Braga and Arsenal there is scope for points. Stay clear of Fernandinho, who suffered a serious injury against Obolon last week.
Xherdan Shaqiri - FC Basel - midfielder - £5.0m
Hailed as the great talent in Swiss football, Yugoslav-born Xherdan Shaqiri will be a crucial player for a Basel team not expected to perform miracles in the competition. That said, Basel are in a group alongside fellow minnows CFR Cluj-Napoca, AS Roma and Bayern Munich. Roma have just one point from two Serie A games having drawn 0-0 at home to Cesena and being thrashed 5-1 at Cagliari.
Shaqiri, who will turn 19 next month, scored a stunning goal against England in last week's Euro 2012 qualifier and at £5 million he looks a calculated gamble for the group stage. Arsenal, Internazionale, Liverpool and Barcelona have already been strongly linked with the winger.
Vincent Enyeama - Hapoel Tel-Aviv - goalkeeper - £4.0m
One of the best performing goalkeepers at the World Cup finals with Nigeria, Enyeama may only really come into consideration as a back-up option with this being Hapoel Tel-Aviv's first ever Champions League campaign having only once before qualified for the preliminary rounds. Although it may not have been on show in South Africa, Enyeama is something of a penalty specialist for the Israeli club.
A goalkeeper gets ten points for scoring a goal, so should Hapoel be awarded a spot-kick it could be that Enyeama earns as many points as an expensive goalkeeper does over two matches. Maybe a signing for Hapoel's home games? Hapoel are grouped with Benfica, Schalke and Lyon which is hardly the toughest group. He scored from the spot against Salzburg in the play-off round.
Ivan Rakitic - Schalke 04 - midfielder - £6.5m
Featuring in the same group as Hapoel, Benfica and Lyon, Rakitic will look to be among the goals in the group stage. Rakitic has yet to find the back of the net in the Bundesliga this term, but he has the assist for both the club's league goals to date. He scored seven goals last season as Schalke finished second to Bayern Munich in the final standings.
Schalke have had a poor start to this season, losing all three games despite the additional firepower of Raul and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. There clearly are goals in this team, and with a promising draw Rakitic could be a useful choice while others may go for the more obvious signing of Jefferson Farfan (£7 million, striker).
Lima - Braga - striker - £6.0m
The hat-trick hero of the play-off against Sevilla last month is one of the cheapest strikers in the game and should prove to be an astute purchase, even if it's only as part of balancing your budget for bigger names. Braga, who will play Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk and Partizan Belgrade, have already shown they will be no mugs by knocking out Celtic and Sevilla in reaching this stage.
Lima, who joined Braga from Belenenses in the summer, was on target on Saturday as Braga lost by the odd goal in five in a thriller at FC Porto. He looks like being a dangerous player in an exciting Braga team which is devoted to attacking play and can be devastating on the break.
Andre Ayew - Marseille - midfielder - £6.5m
Another player to come away from the World Cup finals with great credit, this winger will be crucial to Marseille's hopes of advancing from a group which also includes Spartak Moscow, MSK Zilina and Chelsea. With Marseille entertaining Spartak in their opening match this week the French side will expect to score goals and he could be the supply line.
Ayew spent last season on loan at Ligue 2 side Arles, where he scored four times as the club won promotion to the top flight after finishing in third. He was also on loan at Lorient in 2008-09 which shows he'd previously had little chance to impress at the Stade Velodrome. But he has started every game this season and his fortunes have been transformed.
Alex - Spartak Moscow - midfielder - £6.0m
Brazilian midfielder Alex joined Spartak from Internacional last year and is now considered to be one of the Russian side's most important players. With 14 goals in 46 appearances so far, he has proven ability for finding the back of the net.
Alex may only have two goals to his name this season in the Premier League, but that masks his general attacking ability after he burst onto the Russian scene last season.
• Play Champions League fantasy