Champions League Daily Fantasy Helper: The Final
The final of the Champions League, the world's premier soccer competition, takes place on June 1st as Liverpool square off against Tottenham.
FanDuel is offering single-match contests for the final. 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 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.
|Saturday, June 1st|
|Tottenham vs. Liverpool|
Both Spurs and Liverpool staged improbable comebacks to get to this point, setting up an all-English final and guaranteeing that a Premier League side will claim Europe's top trophy for the first time since 2012 when Chelsea shocked the continent with a crazy run to glory.
Liverpool are fairly healthy favorites, listed at -105 on the moneyline, per FanDuel Sportsbook, which implies win (in regulation) odds of 51.2%. Tottenham are +310 on the moneyline, good for implied win odds of just 24.4%. Over the course of the Premier League season, Liverpool were clearly the better team. The Reds finished with 26 more points than Spurs did and had a +67 goal differential, compared to a +28 goal differential for Tottenham. But in a one-off final, anything can happen, and Spurs have more than proven their worth in this competition -- getting a 1-0 result at Dortmund in the second leg in the Round of 16, knocking out a superior Manchester City side in the quarters and toppling red-hot Ajax in the semifinals.
With it being an all-English final, we actually have some decent head-to-head results at which we can look. Over the last two seasons, Tottenham and Liverpool have played four times in EPL action, and the aggregate score is 8-7 in favor of Spurs. However, Tottenham won just once in those four meetings -- a 4-1 triumph back in October of 2017. Liverpool won 2-1 both times they met up this season, but they needed a 90th-minute own goal to win at Anfield in late March.
This season, the Reds dominated the game at Wembley, putting 10 shots on goal, compared to three for a "home" Spurs side. In the reverse fixture at Anfield, Tottenham limited Liverpool to just three shots on goal and had more possession (51%) in a quality performance despite losing 2-1. Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela netted Spurs two goals over the two matches while Roberto Firmino scored in each fixture for Liverpool, with Georginio Wijnaldum scoring the other (their fourth goal was an own goal).
Now that we've dabbled in the matchup, let's look at some players to target for the big match.
Mohamed Salah ($16), Sadio Mané ($15) and Roberto Firmino ($12)
On single-match slates, you pretty much need to get a piece of all the goals -- either an assist or the goal itself -- to put yourself in a position to make some coin. If Liverpool score in open play, one of their famed front three will likely play a part in it.
You can pretty easily make a case for rostering any of these three, and if you're filling out several lineups under the assumption that the Reds score multiple goals, you can mix and match how you use them. Salah netted 22 goals with eight assists in 37 EPL starts, and Mané was superb all campaign, tallying 22 goals in EPL play, although he dished out just one assist. Salah's DFS outlook would receive a big boost if James Milner didn't start, which would allow Salah to take penalties.
While Mané and Salah are both capable of huge games and worthy of the captain spot, let's dig into Firmino.
This season Firmino did what he does, scoring 12 goals with six assists and helping to tie the whole thing together for the Reds with his stellar all-around play. Even though some of his real-life contributions don't matter much when it comes to our DFS lineups, he still totaled 14.3 FanDuel points per game in UCL play, scoring in double-figures in five straight European matches prior to his brief substitute appearance in the first leg against Barcelona. (He missed the return leg due to injury.)
As we mentioned in the intro, he scored twice against Spurs this season, getting a goal in both league matchups. Fitness news regarding Firmino has been positive, so unless something changes on that front, it would be a surprise to see him miss out on the final. He was in good form before getting hurt, notching a goal in each leg of Liverpool's quarterfinal clash with Porto while adding an assist in the first game. Firmino's 2.2 shots per game in EPL play pales in comparison to the shots-per-game average of Salah (3.6), but it's close to Mané's (2.4).
In a vacuum, Salah is the best play of the three as the Egyptian leads Liverpool in shots per game, key passes per game (1.8) and goal involvements for the season (30). But Firmino is just $12, and his upside is comparable to that of his front-three brethren.
And don't sleep on that salary, which makes it a lot easier to pair the Brazilian with Harry Kane. You can plug in Firmino and Kane and not punt everywhere else, which can't be said when you try to jam in Salah or Mané alongside Kane. Of course, you don't have to play Kane, but if you want to, Firmino allows you to roster Tottenham's main man and still get exposure to Liverpool's attacking trident.
Harry Kane ($16)
Speaking of Kane, he is expected to be fit for the final. While it's always scary investing in someone coming off a long layoff -- he could be rusty, not fully fit or aggravate his injury -- when Kane plays, he is the focal point of Tottenham's attack, and he will handle penalties.
Kane's anytime goal odds of +500, per FanDuel Sportsbook, are second to only Salah's (+400). The English star finished the EPL season with 17 goals and four assists in 27 starts. That it was his worst goal tally since his breakout 2014-15 campaign shows you how good he's been in the past few years. Starting with 2017-18, Kane has 30, 29, 25 and 21 EPL goals the previous four seasons. He netted five goals with one assist in eight UCL starts this year, averaging a robust 3.9 shots per game.
When he gets the ball around the box, Kane usually has a one-track mind -- he wants to shoot, which is great for DFS. He averaged 3.6 shots per game in EPL action in 2018-19, a year after firing off 5.0 shots per match in 2017-18. It'll be interesting to see how Spurs line up around Kane, but if he's fit enough for 90 minutes, he'll almost surely start and be a key cog, like usual.
In the unlikely event that Kane is fit but left out of the starting lineup, it'll be really hard to invest $16 in a bench player. But doing so could give you a contrarian lineup, and all you have to do is look back to last year's final -- when substitute Gareth Bale scored twice -- to see how a sub can swing things in DFS. Hopefully we'll have some concrete news on his status in the days leading up to the match.
Lucas Moura ($14) and Son Heung-min ($12)
Sans Kane in the second leg versus Manchester City and both semifinal matches against Ajax, these two stepped up big time for Tottenham. Son blow-torched City with three goals in the tie, including a brace in the second leg in which he racked up 52.9 FanDuel points. Lucas came through with a second-leg hat trick against Ajax, amassing 68.6 FanDuel points.
The expected re-insertion of Kane into the starting XI will change how these two play. Instead of playing off each other and using their pace on counters, they'll likely be making runs off Kane, who should be occupying his usual number-nine position (assuming he's fit). Heck, one of these two might get squeezed out of the starting XI with Kane back.
In theory, a matchup with Liverpool sets up well for both Son and Lucas. Full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson do so much in attack for the Reds, but if Tottenham can break quickly when they win the ball, they may be able to exploit the spaces behind Robertson and Alexander-Arnold. In the last round, Barcelona didn't have the pace to do this. Son and Lucas do.
If Liverpool see more of the ball, it aids the DFS outlook of Son, who wrecked City in quick transitions. But in both matches versus Liverpool this season, Spurs had more possession, and that style of game better plays into the hands (or feet, if you will) of Lucas, a skilled dribbler who can make things happen in tight spaces, which he did often in his three-goal second half at Ajax.
It's difficult to imagine Son being left out given the form he's shown this season, and his anytime goal odds of +600 are second on Spurs. However, it's also hard to picture Lucas on the pine after what he did in Amsterdam to get Tottenham to the final (and he was good versus City, too). But one of them is likely to be on the bench. Good luck with that call, Poch.
As we talked about with Kane, even if one of these two misses out on a starting gig, you can still play him in some lineups.
If Spurs are trailing, Lucas would likely come on as a second-half sub, and at $14, it's tough to see too many people paying up for him if he's not starting, making him an enticing GPP gamble. Also, in the event the match is tied after 90 minutes, there'd be an extra 30 minutes played, giving subs more run than usual. It must be said, though, that there's a very real risk with Lucas -- more than there would be with Kane or Son if they are left out -- that he may not see the pitch at all if he doesn't start (especially if Spurs are leading).
James Milner ($9) and Georginio Wijnaldum ($6)
Liverpool's starting lineup doesn't have many places up for grabs. One exception is in midfield as it's likely a straight fight between Milner and Wijnaldum for the final midfield spot next to Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.
With Wijnaldum, don't get carried away by his second-half brace versus Barcelona. Those were his only UCL goals this campaign, and he bagged just three goals in the EPL. He's an industrious, tireless midfielder whose notable real-life impact typically isn't reflected by his DFS output. What he does have going for him, however, is a dirt-cheap salary. Yes, Fabinho ($5) is even cheaper, but Wijnaldum has a much better chance to get on the scoresheet than Fabinho does from his holding role, even if Wijnaldum's odds aren't all that good.
Milner, if he starts, is an appealing option for one reason -- he takes penalties when he's on the pitch.
He finished with five goals and four assists in EPL play. Three of Milner's five EPL goals came from the spot, and he netted five spot-kicks in all competitions this campaign, cashing two UCL penalties and going a perfect five-for-five on pens. Like we said earlier, you need goals on single-game slates, so penalty takers are always in play. Milner has to be on our radar if he gets into the starting XI.
Trent Alexander-Arnold ($9) and Andrew Robertson ($7)
These two have been absolutely immense for Liverpool this season, pacing the team in assists -- Alexander-Arnold with 12 and Robertson with 11 -- from their full-back positions. That's made them DFS darlings, and their involvement in the Reds' attack along with Liverpool's propensity for clean sheets puts them in play in any matchup.
Trent takes corners, giving him extra opportunities to get an assist or create a chance. He's $2 more expensive, though, and on a slate where every buck is crucial, the $2 in savings Robertson offers could be awfully handy. Both guys are great stacking partners with any of Liverpool's front three, and they're the two best options at defender.
Kieran Trippier ($10)
If you want to differentiate your lineup, Trippier is a great way to do so. With the two aforementioned Liverpool full-backs being cheaper than Trippier, he isn't likely to see a ton of ownership, and he's got some upside.
Trippier had three assists in 26 EPL starts and averaged 1.8 key passes per match. He's a good crosser of the ball and dabbles in some free-kick duties, although Christian Eriksen handles the majority of them for Spurs.
If you're constructing a roster with the idea of Tottenham scoring multiple goals -- or Liverpool getting shut out -- Trippier makes a lot of sense, and he's a nice stacking partner for Kane. His likely low ownership could shoot you up the leaderboard if he hits.
Joel Matip ($6)
Matip is a value dart throw, and he, too, isn't likely to see much ownership since he's only $1 cheaper than Robertson.
Matip has been a revelation this year at center-back for the Reds, and that was on full display against Barcelona as he gave a good account of himself. Across the two legs against the Spanish giants, Matip averaged 3.5 clearances, 2.5 tackles, and 1.5 interceptions. He put up 10.4 and 15.4 FanDuel points in those matches, with a clean-sheet bonus boosting his score in the 15.4-point game.
The strength of Liverpool's defense puts a clean-sheet bonus in play against Spurs, but even without it, Matip should be around double-digit FanDuel points at a modest salary. That's pretty nice, especially if he helps you pay up for the guys you want in your forward/midfield spots, and who knows -- maybe he'll get on the end of a set piece and score a goal.