SOCCER

Champions League Daily Fantasy Helper: Tuesday 5/7/19

Sadio Mané will be a focal point for a Liverpool team that need to score at least three goals. Which other players are worth rostering for Tuesday's single-match slate?

The semifinals of the Champions League, the world's premier soccer competition, wrap up this week. Liverpool and Barcelona play Tuesday, while Ajax host Spurs on Wednesday, which we covered here from a DFS perspective.

FanDuel is offering single-match contests for both ties. The single-game format is a lot different than the usual multi-game offering. Instead of having to roster a certain amount of players from each position, you now have $50 to select five players from any position (other than keeper, which isn't in the player pool), and you tab one player to be your captain, with his points being multiplied by 1.5.

Semifinals
Tuesday, May 7th
Barcelona at Liverpool


Some of the shine has worn off for this fixture. Not only did Barcelona win the first leg 3-0, making them commanding favorites to go through, Liverpool will be without Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, two of their best and most important players. Liverpool are still slight favorites to win Tuesday's match, but their implied win odds are just 40.0%, per FanDuel Sportsbook. As a result of not getting an away goal in the first leg, the Reds will need to score five goals on Tuesday if Barcelona score one, since road goals are the aggregate tiebreaker.

Let's look at some players to target across the pitch at different price points.

Forwards/Midfielders

Lionel Messi ($18) -- With Liverpool needing to go all out in attack, they'll likely be susceptible to counters, opening the door for Messi and company on the break. Messi took over in the first leg, netting two goals, scoring 44.3 FanDuel points and generally orchestrating everything for Barca, per usual. If the Spanish giants score at Anfield, Messi will likely have something to do with it. It is a little easier to fade him away from home, but with that said, outside of his 8.0-fantasy-point dud last round at Manchester United, Messi has put up 26.9, 59.6 and 62.9 FanDuel points in his other UCL road starts this campaign. No one on the slate can touch the ceiling of Messi, who handles corners and free kicks, but due to how popular he'll probably be, it's worth at least entertaining the idea of fading him, especially since Barca could take their foot off the gas and play defensively if they net a goal.

Sadio Mané ($13) -- With Firmino and Salah sidelined, Mane will be the Reds' top threat in attack, and with Liverpool needing at least three goals (five if Barca score one), they should be pouring forward from the get go. Mane is very reliant on goals for DFS production as he's got just one assist this season in EPL action. He does have 20 goals in 34 EPL starts, though, and averages 2.4 shots per game. If Liverpool, shorthanded and all, make this interesting -- anything is possible at Anfield -- Mane will likely play a huge role on the night.

James Milner ($11) -- If Milner starts, he'll be on penalties for Liverpool, and that puts him on our radar. Admittedly, Milner doesn't usually offer much in the way of DFS goodness outside of his role as penalty taker, but in a match in which the Reds will be desperate to score multiple goals, there's a chance they get to take a spot kick. And on single-match slates, every goal is massive. Milner had a good showing at Barcelona, scoring 19.0 FanDuel points thanks to two shots on goals and a pair of chances created.

Divock Origi ($11) and Xheridan Shaqiri ($7) -- What Liverpool do with their lineup in the absence of both Salah and Firmino is a big question mark. My guess is that these two start -- Origi as a central striker and Shaqiri in Salah's wide spot. Each guy has some appeal, but Shaqiri is more enticing. He's a creative player who will be let off the leash in this situation, and his cheap salary will come in handy. If one of these two remain on the bench, it'll likely mean that DanIel Sturridge ($8) is in the starting XI, and he'd be attractive at his price tag.

Malcom ($9) -- Barcelona are a really good side, but one thing they don't have much of in attack is pace. In this match, they could be more defensive than usual, and Liverpool should leave space behind them as they commit numbers in attack. Normally, this would set up perfectly for Ousmane Dembélé, who made an instant impact as a sub in the first leg (although he twice fluffed his lines). But Dembélé is out with a muscle injury, and Malcom might be the next man up. He almost certainly won't start and hasn't gotten much game time this season, but Malcom has blistering pace and can do damage on the counter. His salary is tough to stomach for a guy who may not see the field -- which is a very real possibility, particularly if Barca score a goal early and can see out the game defensively -- but if Malcom comes on and scores, he could be a GPP-winning asset.

Ivan Rakitic ($8) and Arturo Vidal ($8) -- These two are decent-floor, low-ceiling plays in Barcelona's midfield. Vidal is in his best form of the season, and he was his usual wrecking-ball self in the first leg, notching five tackles, two interceptions and one clearance on his way to 10.4 FanDuel points. That should be his floor in this one as Barca should be pretty defensive minded. Rakitic will be busy defensively, as well, but he also offers more going forward, creating two chances in the first leg.

Georginio Wijnaldum ($5) -- Gini is a probable starter who is $5. We could stop this blurb right there. He's averaging just 3.6 FanDuel points per game in UCL play this season, though some of his appearances have been as a substitute. He had 6.0 FanDuel points in the first leg and should be asked to push forward more given the Reds' deficit. But rostering Wijnaldum is pretty much all about what his salary allows you to do elsewhere.

Defender

Jordi Alba ($12) -- Alba did his thing in the first leg, amassing 24.9 FanDuel points thanks to an assist, three chances created and a clean-sheet bonus. The left-back has been one of Barcelona's best attacking presences this season, and he's now scored between 21.0 and 28.0 FanDuel points in four of his last five UCL games, with a 13.8-point day being the lone exception in that span. Alba may stay home more defensively in this one, but he's got the pace to hurt Liverpool on the break. Personally, due to Barca likely approaching this one a little more conservatively than usual, I'm viewing Alba as more of a luxury play if you find yourself with a decent amount of cap space, but with the masses probably opting for one of Liverpool's full-backs, Alba makes for a high-upside contrarian option.

Andrew Robertson ($7) and Trent Alexander-Arnold ($7) -- Speaking of Liverpool's full-backs, these two will likely be the most popular defensive players for this slate. Both are underpriced given their sublime production this season, and they should be bombing forward early and often in this one. Robertson was stellar in the first leg and has 11 assists this year in EPL play, tying him with Alexander-Arnold for the team lead. They should be launching crosses into the box, and Alexander-Arnold may even start in a more advanced role if Jürgen Klopp gets funky with his lineup.

Nélson Semedo ($5) -- Semedo is a stud defensively, and this match sets up perfectly for him to get the nod at right-back over Sergi Roberto. Semedo came on in the second half of the first leg, pushing Roberto to midfield, and that move ended up paying off big time for Barcelona. With a 3-0 lead, Barcelona will likely be content to lock down on defense, and that should give Semedo a nice floor. Plus, he's got great speed to get involved when Barca break. Just $2 cheaper than the two aforementioned Liverpool full-backs, Semedo may not see much ownership, either.