GFM & The Telegraph Team Up to Deliver Another Fantasy Football GameSeptember 8, 2018
GFM has been working with The Telegraph for more 20 years now and their signature fantasy football games continue to be among the most popular in the UK market, attracting hundreds of thousands of players every season. With the 2018/2019 Champions League kicking off September 18th this also sees the return of The Telegraph’s Fantasy Football equivalent version of the game, which our expert team here at GFM have once again successfully delivered in collaboration with our partners at The Telegraph Media Group.
Expert Fantasy Football Top Tips…
To celebrate the launch of this new and improved fantasy football game, which has a top prize of £5,000 on offer, we caught up with our Account Manager and resident fantasy football expert Tom Fairless who shared with us some expert insight on who he and our partners at The Telegraph think you should potentially be considering for your starting XI by taking a close look at the group match ups….
Group A: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Club Brugge, AS Monaco
Club Brugge last featured in the group stages in 2017 and they lost all six games conceding 14 goals in the process so it will be no surprise if they struggle again this time round. Monaco, meanwhile, have struggled to rebuild following the sale of their best players to Europe’s elite over the past couple of seasons. Thomas Lemar was the major loss this summer and the Frenchman has gone to group rivals Atletico.
Therefore, my interest would mostly be in players from Atletico and Dortmund. Both teams scored in all six of Dortmund’s group games last year, so we’ll avoid their defenders, but they should cause problems going forward. Marco Reus (£5.3) didn’t feature in the Champions League last year due to injury but he’s got a full preseason under his belt and has already scored and provided an assist in the Bundesliga. In just 11 league appearances last term he netted seven times and is now on penalty and free-kick duty – Reus will be Dortmund’s go to man.
Atletico aren’t the most prolific going forward having only scored more than twice in three of their 24 group matches since 2014/15, so other attackers appeal more than Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa. Atleti have however kept a clean sheet in 67% of these matches, so Jan Oblak (£3.5m) is a safe bet in goal having played all six group matches in 2017/18.
Group B: Barcelona, Inter Milan, PSV, Spurs
It looks best to avoid PSV players this season. Lionel Messi (£6.9m) is the second most expensive player but comes with some risk considering the difficulty of the group. Barca managed just nine goals in the group stages last year, but they were without January arrival Philippe Coutinho (£5.7m). The Brazilian provides a cheaper alternative to Messi and his 52 points in four games for Liverpool was only 12 fewer than the Argentine managed in eight appearances for Barca. He netted five times and provided two assists in the group stages and since his move to Catalonia, he’s bagged 11 goals and seven assists in 28 appearances.
Inter are in the group stages for the first time since 2011/12. However, new signing Radja Nainggolan has featured regularly for Roma and was the seventh highest scoring midfielder last season. He made the second most key passes and had the second most shots per game for last season’s semi-finalists. Now being deployed slightly further forward by Inter, the Belgian looks a bargain at £4.4m.
Spurs topped a group with Real Madrid and Dortmund in it last term to the surprise of many. Harry Kane’s seven goals in Europe and exploits at the World Cup see him priced up just £0.3m cheaper than Lionel Messi. Lucas Moura (£4.0m) provides an excellent low-cost alternative given the way he’s started the season with two goals at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
Group C: Liverpool, Napoli, PSG, Red Star Belgrade
Poor old Red Star have been dealt a horrible draw with last year’s runners-up Liverpool and French giants PSG in their group, while Napoli are no mugs. With so much attacking quality on show in this group it’s perhaps best to avoid defenders from all four clubs.
It is set to be mouth-watering contest between the two best attacking line ups in the competition. Kylian Mbappe’s stock went sky high after the World Cup and he’s started this season on fire, scoring four times and providing two assists in three Ligue 1 outings. Neymar also has four goals this term and was their top points scorer last year, but he was outscored by Edison Cavani (£6.0m). The Uruguayan has netted 12 times in the group stages over the last two seasons, so initially offers the best value as the cheapest option of the trio.
Liverpool’s infamous fab three lit the competition up last year as they bagged 10 goals apiece. Mo Salah amassed the most points and he and Firmino are both available at £5.9m. However, it’s going to be difficult for the Egyptian to reach the same meteoric heights, so at £5.0m Sadio Mane certainly represents the value, especially having made the most impressive start to this season.
Group D: Porto, Schalke, Galatasaray, Lokomotiv Moscow
This is by far the weakest group, but it presents a fantastic opportunity to bring some lower-priced, yet fruitful players into your fantasy squad. Lokomotiv and Schalke look poor, while Galataseray’s top scorer form last term, Bafetimbi Gomis, has left so the Portuguese champions are the team to follow.
Only PSG, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Chelsea outscored Porto in the group stages last year and again they could potentially rack up the goals. Moussa Marega top scored domestically in their title winning season, but he didn’t get off the mark in Europe. Preference therefore, and at a cheaper price, is for Vincent Aboubakar (£4.6m). The Cameroonian netted five Champions League goals and already has three in the league this term. Another must from Porto is left-back Alex Tellas (£3.8m). The Brazilian is their chief creator, chalking up an impressive 20 assist in 45 appearances in all competitions last season, so he could prove valuable in a group where Porto should also expect to keep some clean sheets.
Group E: AEK Athens, Ajax, Benfica, Bayern Munich
Out of all the top teams, Bayern have arguably been handed the easiest group and they could pile up the goals. Robert Lewandowski has 15 goals in 17 group stage matches since 2015/16. Joshua Kimmick (£3.8m) scored as many points as Lewandowski last year, having a hand in more goals than anyone in the squad (four goals, three assists). The right-back effectively plays as a right-wing, but in such a weak group will bring extra points from any clean sheets the Bavarians manage.
Benfica were poor in the Champions League last year, losing all six of their matches. Therefore, preference is for the returning Ajax who have made a blistering start to the season. Their front trio of Klass-Jan Huntelaar, Dusan Tadic and Hakim Ziyech (£4.1m) look very dangerous and the latter is the one who interests us, despite being the cheapest. The Moroccan was the Eredivisie Player of the Season last year, providing 15 assists with nine goals. He also averaged more shots per game and key passes than any other player in the division and he already leads those stats for Ajax at the start of this campaign.
Group F: Lyon, Man City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Hoffenheim
Man City should on paper cruise through this group but such is the depth of their squad, their more expensive players aren’t guaranteed to start every game. However, with Kevin De Bruyne injured there’s a good chance Ilkay Gundogan (£4.0m) will feature regularly, having started three of their four Premier League games this term. He provided two goals and two assists in the Champions league last year and behind Sergio Aguero, De Bruyne and Leroy Sane, he averaged the most shots per match. Benjamin Mendy (£3.8m) is a popular choice amongst TFF Premier League managers, bagging four assists already, and there’s no reason he won’t replicate his form on the European stage as long as he can put his injury troubles behind him.
Shakhtar Donetsk qualified from the group stages last year, even beating Man City at home. They’re a strong side on home soil, netting 14 times in their last five group matches here. Marlos (£4.4m) was their top scorer in the competition last year, with two goals and two assists, and the Brazilian has started this season on fire with seven goals in as many games.
Hoffenheim may struggle in their first appearance in the Champions league proper, but Lyon will rival Shakhtar for the runners-up spot. Memphis Depay (£4.4m) was their top goalscorer last term and made the most key passes for the French outfit which saw him also provide 17 assists.
Group G: CSKA, Real Madrid, Roma, Viktoria Plzen
With two weak sides in CSKA and Viktoria Plzen in this group, Roma and Real Madrid’s players should go well for the first part of the tournament. The departure of Ronaldo means the goals will be shared around a bit at Real and so far this season Marco Asenjo (£4.2m) has deputised on the left wing. The Spaniard operated mainly from the bench in Europe last term but will have the opportunity to fill the giant Ronaldo void. In the league, he was only behind Toni Kroos and Marcelo for key passes and he chipped in with six goals and six assists. We’d expect a massive improvement on his total of 35 points last season and he offers a much cheaper alternative to the £6.0m Gareth Bale.
Marcelo was the top scoring defender last year, but behind him was Alexander Kolarov (£3.8m). The Serb was a key part in Roma’s run to the semi-final, starting every match, scoring once and managing three assists. He set up 14 goals in all competitions and made more key passes than any other squad member.
Group H: Juventus, Man Utd, Valencia, Young Boy
Young Boys will do well to avoid bottom spot, but Valencia may well fancy their chances of upsetting Man Utd after a turbulent start to the season for the Red Devils. Juve are amongst the favourites for the tournament after securing the services of Cristiano Ronaldo (£7.0m). The Portuguese is the most expensive player of all, he’s the competition’s all-time top scorer with 120 goals in 153 appearances and has scored more than anyone else in six of the last eight seasons.
For Ronaldo’s former club United, Alexis Sanchez (£4.9m) looks the best value, despite not having featured in the group stages of this competition since 2017. He found the net against PSG and Bayern Munich for Arsenal in that campaign and his overall record for the Gunners in this competition was an impressive nine goals and 10 assists in 22 appearances.
For Valencia, left back Jose Gaya (£3.7m) is the one worth looking at. He’s been picked ahead of Jordi Alba in the Spanish squad and was linked some of Europe’s biggest clubs over the summer. He’s an attacking left back who operated as a left midfielder at times last term and he managed five assists in the league. Two of those came against Barcelona as he proved he could do it against the tops teams. That should stand him in good stead as he plays in this competition for the first time since 2015/16 when he managed two assists in five appearances at the age of just 20.
So there you have it, now you are equipped with all the expert fantasy football knowledge needed to not only choose your team but also hopefully beat your friends and win the biggest prize of all – bragging rights. To pick your team now click here or for more information on GFM and the work we do in delivering industry-leading fantasy-football games read below.
GFM Fantasy Football Game Developers
GFM and The Telegraph have been innovators in the world of fantasy gaming since the days of postal applications through to dedicated mobile apps, live scoring and betting integration; providing the ultimate gaming experience. Player numbers continue to grow with a rolling programme of innovations in the UK’s largest established fantasy football game, which covers a range of competitions including the Premier League, the Championship, the Champions League and other major international tournaments. Today we have a portfolio of sophisticated, interactive online games that are played in real-time by more than 4 million gamers worldwide and we are proud to be at the very forefront of online sports game development and have been since 1989 when the company was created by our CEO Peter Sakal.
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