FanDuel Champions League Single-Game Helper: Chelsea vs. Real Madrid (5/5/21)
Chelsea and Real Madrid square off Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST in London in the second leg of their Champions League semifinal. The sides drew 1-1 in Madrid last week. The Blues are slim +120 favorites, per FanDuel Sportsbook, and the match is +116 to go over 2.5 goals.
FanDuel is offering single-game contests for the big matchup. While scoring is the same to the normal UCL offerings, roster requirements are different. You have $50 to work with and need to roster four forwards/midfielders -- one in a captain slot, where the player's points are multiplied by 1.5 -- along with a defender.
Now that we have the lay of the land, which players should you roster for Wednesday's showdown?
Karim Benzema ($15), Real Madrid
Benzema has the best goal-scoring odds (+160) among expected starters in this match, and Real Madrid have to score at least once on Wednesday if they are to advance. Benz's first-leg goal, which was brilliant, salvaged a decent result for Real Madrid in a match in which they were mostly outplayed (0.3 expected goals, per FBRef).
Not only is he Madrid's clear top threat, he's darn near their only threat. He's netted 28 goals in all competitions this season while no other Real Madrid player has more than seven.
One big thing to note is that Benzema would likely be pushed off penalty duty if Sergio Ramos ($10) returns, which is up in the air. That's no small matter, but the French striker is still well worth a long look for the captain slot.
Mason Mount ($12), Chelsea
As we just talked about, Chelsea dominated the first leg and didn't get a better result due to some shoddy finishing on their part and Benzema creating a goal out of a half-chance. I'm expecting the majority of lineups on this slate to have a Chelsea attacker in the captain spot, and that makes a lot of sense.
Amazingly, no Chelsea player has more than six goals in EPL play this season, but a whopping eight players have between four and six goals. So that makes me want to avoid the chalk Chelsea captain, which might be Christian Pulisic ($14) after his first-leg goal.
Mount, who is +320 to score, handles a lot of set-piece work and is usually on the ball plenty for the Blues. In a match that is just +116 to go over 2.5 goals and could be thin on chances -- much like the second half of the first leg -- Mount's floor is more valuable than usual.
Timo Werner ($14), Chelsea
Among Chelsea's probable starters, Werner's +185 goal odds pace the pack, although it's far from a lock he starts. Despite his rough season, Werner's 22 goal contributions (11 goals and 11 assists) across all competitions are tops on Chelsea, and his 16.4 expected goals hint as some bad luck in addition to poor finishing. His rate of 0.59 goals plus assists per 90 minutes is the best clip on the team among players who have started at least 19 matches.
Werner's pace on the counter could be very handy late in this game if Real have to sell out and push forward in search of a goal. In last week's clash, his 13.9 FanDuel points were the most among forwards/midfielders who didn't get a goal. He probably won't be a popular captain pick.
Hakim Ziyech ($8), Chelsea
Ziyech is my favorite kinda-weird-but-not-super-weird captain pick on this slate. He may not start, so you'll obviously want to check that, but Ziyech was very impactful in his 25 minutes off the bench in the first leg. He totaled two shots on target, two tackles and one block in that time -- injecting life into what was mostly a pretty blah second stanza. His first-leg showing may get him a starting gig in this one, and he sometimes siphons corners from Mount.
Christian Pulisic ($14), Chelsea
We touched on Pulisic a bit already, but even though I'm likely staying away from him as my captain for game-theory reasons, he's a fine play overall. Finally healthy and getting a run of games, the American is back in the form he was in at this time a year ago, when he looked like Chelsea's best player.
In his last five starts across all competitions, Pulisic has three goals and seven shots on target while adding a monster 18 shot-creating actions. He created three chances in the first leg in addition to his goal and wound up being the slate's top scorer (31.6 FanDuel points).
Toni Kroos ($10), Real Madrid
Kroos was fairly quiet in the first leg, finishing with 13.8 FanDuel points. He created just two chances, but we should expect more in this one. Not only does he handle a lot of corners and free kicks, Kroos is Madrid's best creative player, so if Los Blancos find themselves chasing a goal late, Kroos will likely be the one they turn to. He has three goals and 10 assists this season across all competitions.
Casemiro ($8), Real Madrid
Casemiro finished with the same FanDuel output (13.8) as Kroos in the first matchup, and he's actually Real Madrid's second-leading scorer this season with seven goals across all competitions. At Stamford Bridge, Casemiro should be able to rack up defensive-action points, and he could wind up having to be more aggressive going forward, as well. He created two chances in the first leg and is a quality play at his salary.
Eder Militao ($8) and Sergio Ramos ($10), Real Madrid
Three of the five highest-scoring players for last week's matchup were defenders, with the only attackers in the top five being the two goalscorers. I'll be trying to save salary here in most of my lineups, and Militao is very appealing. He ended up with more FanDuel points than Benzema in the first leg, generating 29.5, although 10 of them came from him being credited with an assist on Benz's goal. Still, that's 19.5 FanDuel points from defensive actions, and Real Madrid could face more pressure from the Blues at Stamford Bridge.
As for Ramos, if he plays, he's a unicorn for DFS as a defender who takes penalties. He'd have a fantastic floor/ceiling combination.
Ben Chilwell ($9), Chelsea
Chilwell offers attacking upside, though we could see Chelsea sit back a bit more as this game wears on. The Blues' three-at-the-back formation under Thomas Tuchel gives the full-backs a lot of room to attack on the outside, and Chilwell has benefitted. He has two goals and five assists in 24 EPL starts, and he had a shot plus two shot-creating actions in the first leg.
Andreas Christensen ($5), Chelsea
Christensen isn't a bad punt play. He produced 7.8 FanDuel points from defensive actions in the first leg, and if Chelsea are holding onto an advantage late in this one, their defenders could be busy. Admittedly, there's a low ceiling here barring a goal on a set piece, but Christensen's salary frees you up.