SOCCER

FanDuel Soccer: Champions League DFS Helper for 2/24/21

As always, we're covering FanDuel's main slate, and that kicks off at 3 p.m. EST. All betting lines come from FanDuel Sportsbook, and they may change after the article is published.

Slate Overview

Fixture Favorite Over
2.5 Goals
Most Likely
to Score
Manchester City at Monchengladbach Man City (-330) -198 Aguero (-150)
Real Madrid at Atalanta Atalanta (+150) -162 Zupata (+105)


Positional Breakdown

Forwards/Midfielders

Manchester City are the team you have to get some exposure to. On a two-match slate, they're a terrifying fade in their current imperious form, and they are clearly the team with the best chance to score multiple goals. FanDuel Sportsbook gives City a line of -310 to score more than 1.5 goals, while the next-best line for over 1.5 goals is Atalanta's -110 mark. Pep Guardiola's squad is +120 to score three-plus goals.

While most everyone will be stacking City, they offer enough viable plays that you can stack them and still be unique. City have three players with implied goal odds of better than 50% -- Sergio Aguero ($20; -150), Gabriel Jesus ($20; -125), Raheem Sterling ($22; -105) -- though it's unlikely all three start. Heck, Sterling may be the only one who does. Aguero hasn't played in a match since January 3rd, and he hasn't logged more than 67 minutes in any of his few appearances this season. If he starts, he'll be appealing because we know how good he is, but he's also a massive risk and likely won't play the full 90.

Ilkay Gundogan ($15; +115), Kevin De Bruyne ($23; +125), Phil Foden ($17; +140) and Riyad Mahrez ($18; +140) also have superb goal odds, as well. KDB is still working his way back after only recently returning from injury, but he started at Arsenal on Sunday, playing 62 minutes and taking three shots while recording three shot-creating actions. He handles a lot of set-piece work and was taking penalties before his injury. Gundogan might return to a deeper role with De Bruyne back, but he did have a shot on target in the Arsenal game and boasts a modest salary. Foden and Mahrez are easy to like, as well, and I don't hate the idea of stacking the two of them as a way to be a little weird but still roster two high-ceiling guys from City.

Atalanta aren't as high-flying in attack as they were last season, but they're more than capable of putting a goal or two past a Real Madrid side that owns just the sixth-best defense in La Liga by FBRef's expected goals. La Dea's -110 odds to score two-plus goals are the second-best on the slate.

Duvan Zapata ($21; +105) carries the match's top goal odds and has scored nine goals with five assists in Serie A play. He also posted three goals and two assists in the group stage. Josip Ilicic ($19; +155) has four goals with five assists domestically. Luis Muriel ($16; +125) paces Atalanta in goals with 17 across all competitions, adding five assists, but he usually comes off the bench, starting just 15 times in his 30 appearances. If Muriel winds up starting Wednesday, that would obviously boost his outlook.

Real Madrid's attack is severely short-handed -- no Karim Benzema, Rodrygo or Eden Hazard -- and even when it has been at full strength this season, it's lacked the punch we've been accustomed to from Los Blancos over the past decade-plus. They're just +130 to score over 1.5 goals on Atalanta. But this is still an attack worth using on a two-game slate, and I think the common lineup build for the four attacking slots will be to stack two City players while plucking one apiece from Atalanta and Real Madrid.

The problem is that deciding which Real Madrid forward/midfielder to use feels like a total guessing game. Outside of Benzema, the only player with more than three La Liga goals this season is defensive midfielder Casemiro ($14; +310). I probably won't go there, though he'll likely be fairly busy defensively. Mariano ($15; +145) has the best goal odds among expected starters and could be Benzema's replacement at striker, with Marco Asensio ($12; +260) and Vinicius ($19; +260) alongside him. But I think I will likely end up with a lot of Toni Kroos ($17; +500). Kroos will handle most of the free kicks and corners, and his rate of non-penalty expected goals plus assists per 90 minutes (0.40) is better than Asensio's (0.32) and Mariano's (0.31) while not far off from Vinicius' (0.45).

It's not unreasonable to fade the forwards/midfielders from Real Madrid and Monchengladbach altogether. But the Atalanta-Real Madrid match is -162 to go over 2.5 goals, so if you're fading Real Madrid, you probably should go for two Atalanta attackers instead of opting for three from City.

Added time -- With how stout Manchester City have been defensively, allowing a mere four goals across their past 17 EPL fixtures, Monchengladbach will be the least popular attack on this slate. But if they score a goal and you have that dude on your roster, it can propel you up the leaderboard. Alassane Plea ($17; +330) has the top goal odds on Monchengladbach. Lars Stindl ($14; +400) leads the side with 10 goals in the Bundesliga, tacking on five assists, as well. ... Bernardo Silva ($12; +230) and Rodrigo ($9; +390) may wind up being the lowest-salaried starters on Man City, depending on how Guardiola sets up.

Defenders

The best defender play on the slate is Robin Gosens ($13). Atalanta's wing-back has lots of freedom to bomb forward and usually spends much of the match doing so. He's bagged six goals and four assists in Serie A this campaign. He holds anytime goal odds of +370, which are ridiculously good for a defender. For reference, Man City's Joao Cancelo ($14) is an excellent play in his own right, and his goal odds are +700. The lone negative with Gosens is that he'll likely be chalky.

Speaking of Cancelo, his performance in his hybrid role of full-back/midfielder has been instrumental to City's success this season. When City have the ball, which is typically quite a lot, Cancelo has been shifting inside and playing what amounts to a central-midfield role. That's really lifted his DFS outlook, as it puts him in dangerous positions. He's tallied a goal with two assists in EPL action and has totaled five shot-creating actions over his last three starts.

Atalanta's Cristin Romero ($14) is worth a look. Romero plays as a center-back in La Dea's three-at-the-back formation, which isn't normally a position that gives you a lot of attacking freedom. But this is Gian Piero Gasperini's Atalanta, and Romero is an exception. The Argentine's goal odds are +650, and he's got two goals with two assists in Serie A. He averaged 27.7 FanDuel points per match in the group stage.

The defenders from Monchengladbach should be busy. WhoScored.com lists Matthias Ginter ($8) as a probable starter at center-back, and the cap relief he offers will come in handy. Nico Elvedi ($11) is expected to start alongside Ginter. Both guys are high-floor plays.

Added time -- If Oleksandr Zinchenko ($7) starts for City, he's a low-salary way to get exposure to the slate's biggest favorite. He doesn't, however, have the same license to roam as Cancelo does (no goals and no assists in the EPL) and will likely need the help of a clean-sheet bonus to get to 15 to 20 FanDuel points. ... Ferland Mendy ($9) should have to do some work defensively and could benefit from an open game. He's produced seven shot-creating actions across his past six La Liga starts.

Goalies

The best win odds -- by a country mile -- sit with Ederson ($13), and the Brazilian also holds the best clean-sheet odds by a significant margin. FanDuel Sportsbook has City at +104 to keep a clean sheet while no other side is better than +260. The negatives with Ederson are that he's got a position-high salary and rarely has any save volume to fall back on if he does concede. But, as we laid out earlier, City just aren't conceding these days, recording 13 clean sheets over their past 17 EPL matches. Ederson is a priority for me.

After Ederson, Pierluigi Gollini ($11) makes the most sense. Atalanta have the second-best win odds as well as the second-best clean-sheet chances (+260). Real Madrid are banged up in attack and aren't playing all that well anyway. Given the salary difference, Gollini could see a higher draft percentage than Ederson does. If you're fading Real Madrid's attack, Gollini fits perfectly with that build.

On the flip side, Thibaut Courtois ($9) is a bet-on-talent play who will likely come at low popularity. With their injury woes, Real Madrid could approach this match with a defensive mindset and try to grind out a result. They're only +370 to keep a clean sheet, but Courtois will likely see enough shots on his goal to put up a respectable fantasy output even if he allows a goal.

Added time -- I know City haven't been City in some knockout-round clashes in previous seasons, but I don't want any part of Yann Sommer ($7). I think the only way you can roll with him is if you're fading City attackers or banking on Sommer allowing just a goal or two while making a ton of saves.