Fantasy Football: Defenders take centre stage again in our Champions League Team of the Week

It was another week of defensive dominance in the Champions League as nine of the 16 matches this week featured a clean sheet. This trend was certainly reflected in Fantasy as well with the maximum amount of defenders allowed (five) making it into our Team of the Week. To see who they are, and who else made the cut from round three, just keep reading!

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GK: Fernando Muslera – Galatasaray – 1 Game, 6 Saves, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

DEF: Achraf Hakimi – Borussia Dortmund – 1 Game, 3 Assists, 1 Clean Sheet = 16 Points

The left-back sure had an incredible Wednesday. Not only did Dortmund shock Atletico Madrid with a 4-0 victory, but three of those goals were assisted by Hakimi. Earning the clean sheet at the end was just the cherry on top of this performance which earned him the title of Goal Fantasy Player of the week. Looking forward, assuming he starts the remaining Champions League matches, Hakimi looks an amazing value costing just 5.5m!

DEF: Raphael Guerreiro – Borussia Dortmund – 1 Substitute Appearance, 2 Goals = 15 Points

DEF: Aymeric Laporte – Manchester City – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

Aymeric Laporte Manchester City 2018-19

DEF: Jordi Alba – Barcelona – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

Any fears that Barcelona would struggle without Lionel Messi were swiftly put to bed as Barcelona cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win over Inter Milan. Alba’s contributions were significant again, this time as he picked up his first Champions League goal of the year. Currently, no defender has more assists or Fantasy points than the Spaniard which makes him worth owning for the rest of the group stages, and beyond.

DEF: Rafinha – Bayern Munich – 1 Game, 1 Assist, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

MID: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool – 1 Game, 2 Goals – 14 Points

After a three-week goal drought, Mohamed Salah has now scored three goals in the last five days! The brace was a big part of Liverpool’s win against Red Star Belgrade which propelled them to the top of Group C. As for Fantasy, this was the first time the Egyptian scored in this competition which has reduced his value somewhat, especially considering he’s still the second most expensive midfielder in the Goal game. That having been said, he could still prove to be worth his price tag as his next Champions League match will also be against Red Star.

Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2018-19

MID: Jesus Corona – Porto – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

MID: Bertrand Traore – Lyon – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

FOR: Edin Dzeko – Roma – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 1 Assist = 15 Points

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After his brace this week, no player has scored more Champions League goals than Dzeko this season (five). In fact, he’s now only three goals behind his tally from last season’s campaign in which he played eight more matches. That goal tally has pushed him to the top of the heap in the Goal game in total points and, in this kind of form, the Roma man is a must own regardless of matchup.

FOR: Andrej Kramaric – Hoffenheim – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 12 Points

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Roma boss Di Francesco hails ‘extraordinary’ Dzeko

Eusebio Di Francesco singled out Edin Dzeko for individual praise after the Roma striker scored twice and set up another in the 3-0 Champions League win over CSKA Moscow.

Dzeko netted his fourth and fifth goals of the Champions League campaign in the space of 13 first-half minutes at Stadio Olimpico, before teeing up Cengiz Under after the interval.

It marked a timely return to form for Dzeko, who has now been directly involved in 16 goals in his last 14 Champions League appearances, following an abysmal showing by Roma’s attack in a 2-0 Serie A defeat to SPAL.

And Roma head coach Di Francesco was delighted with his side’s reaction, and Dzeko’s display in particular. 

“If he’d scored [against SPAL] that would have been even better,” Di Francesco said.

“I must say, he’s an extraordinary player, and not just in terms of his finishing – he gets the team playing, brings the ball down and produces good service for his team-mates.

“He’s a fantastic professional, his pre-match preparations are always spot-on. When he has a bad game he might appear lethargic, but he does well when he’s determined.

“There were things I wasn’t happy with against SPAL, some occasions where focus was lacking. That’s football, you can never let your guard down.

“We showed a lot of good things, including the ability to dig in. CSKA are good between the lines but we found our rhythm, producing some good play and creating chances.”

Veteran Roma captain Daniele De Rossi echoed the coach’s thoughts.

“This was a great reaction after losing badly on Saturday in this stadium,” De Rossi told UEFA.com.

“It’s never easy to come back here after a defeat and show the personality to win so clearly. We were good, now let’s try to be good more often.”

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CSKA coach Viktor Goncharenko, meanwhile, insisted that his side – who sit third in Group G on four points – can take positives from their performance.

“I don’t want to focus on negative things. We are moving forward, our young team is getting an invaluable experience by playing in these sort of games,” he told UEFA.com.

“Surely, it will help us when we face Roma in Moscow. We’ll do our homework.”

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Roma 3 CSKA Moscow 0: Dzeko turns on the style

Edin Dzeko continued his fine run of form in the Champions League by scoring twice and setting up another to lead Roma to a 3-0 victory over CSKA Moscow in Group G.

Following a hat-trick in Roma’s last Champions League outing against Viktoria Plzen, Dzeko was at his best again on Tuesday, taking the game away from CSKA – who beat defending champions Real Madrid in their previous outing – in the space of 13 first-half minutes.

Having rounded off a superb passing move for Roma’s opener, the Bosnia-Herzegovina striker doubled the hosts’ tally with a typically composed finish in the 43rd minute.

Dzeko was not done there, though, claiming an assist five minutes into the second half when Cengiz Under hammered home to wrap up the points and move Roma up to second.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side were second best early on but went ahead on the half-hour mark, Dzeko nudging home from Lorenzo Pellegrini’s cutback at the culmination of an exquisite team move.


An under-hit pass towards Under stopped the former Manchester City striker from turning provider, while the impressive Nikola Vlasic tested Robin Olsen at the other end.

But Roma got their second when Stephan El Shaarawy teed up Dzeko, who made no mistake with a first-time effort into the bottom-left corner.

Roma showed no signs of slowing down after the restart and made it three when Under thumped in a half-volley from Dzeko’s knock-down.

Dzeko sent a header from inside the six-yard box wide to miss out on his hat-trick and a tremendous stop from Ilya Pomazun stopped Alessandro Florenzi from making the victory even more comprehensive in the 92nd minute.

What it means: Deadly Dzeko gives Roma the edge

Madrid may be in a poor run of form, but Julen Lopetegui’s side are still favourites to progress from Group G after a 2-1 win over Plzen.

This double-header between Roma and CSKA could have a significant outcome on a potential battle for second place and Dzeko, with his five goals in three Champions League appearances this term, could well be the difference for last season’s semi-finalists.

Pellegrini proves his worth

Dzeko will rightly take the plaudits, but credit must also go to Pellegrini. The former Sassuolo midfielder endured a difficult maiden season at Roma but showed his quality with a wonderful piece of skill and vision to set up the home side’s first goal, combining wonderfully with El Shaarawy before flicking the ball over Pomazun and into Dzeko’s path.

Goncharenko’s defensive approach fails

Vlasic impressed for CSKA once more, but apart from the midfielder being integral to a decent enough start, the visitors offered little threat once Roma scored their first. Coach Viktor Goncharenko will have to be more adventurous if they are to progress to the knockout stage.

What’s next?

Roma have a tough trip to Napoli on Sunday, while CSKA are up against fellow Russian Premier League title hopefuls Krasnodar in Moscow on the same day.

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West Ham’s Pellegrini rejects Dzeko speculation

Manuel Pellegrini has denied West Ham are considering a January move for Edin Dzeko.

The Roma striker played for Pellegrini at Manchester City and he suggested this week he would be interested in a Premier League return.

“Regarding the Premier League, maybe it’s too late,” he told Sky Sports News. “You never know.

Dzeko hit 16 Premier League goals as Pellegrini’s City won the 2013-14 title, but he later fell out of favour and joined Roma in 2015.

Pellegrini, though, said Dzeko is not on his radar when he spoke at a news conference on Thursday.

“You can talk about five, six or seven players that are linked with us,” Pellegrini told reporters.

“We must not talk about one player. I know him well but we are not thinking about that at the moment.”

West Ham host Tottenham in a London derby on Saturday and Pellegrini expects Marko Arnautovic to be available to lead the line.

“He’s okay,” the Chilean continued. “He played just one game [for Austria in the international break]. 

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“He has worked with the squad without any problems. He must be careful with his knee.”

Pellegrini’s side face the challenge of keeping England captain Harry Kane quiet at the London Stadium.

“Harry Kane is one of the best players in the Premier League, maybe the world,” Pellegrini said. “They have a lot of international players, they have a complete squad.”

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Bosnia-Herzegovina 2 Northern Ireland 0: Dzeko double leaves O’Neill’s side on the brink

Northern Ireland are on the brink of relegation in the Nations League after Edin Dzeko’s double earned Bosnia-Herzegovina a 2-0 win in Sarajevo.

Having taken full advantage of Jamal Lewis’ calamitous error midway through the first half, Dzeko – who also had a seemingly legitimate goal disallowed – wrapped up the points 17 minutes from time.

The Roma striker’s clinical finishing came in stark contrast to Northern Ireland’s profligacy, with substitute Gavin Whyte passing up the best of some golden opportunities when he struck the woodwork from point-blank range.

One point for Austria in their two remaining games, which includes a trip to Windsor Park, will send Michael O’Neill’s side down to the third tier, while Bosnia-Herzegovina just need a draw to clinch promotion to League A.


George Saville should have done better from Steven Davis’ pinpoint cross after quarter of an hour and the midfielder went closer five minutes later when his half-volley rattled the right-hand upright.

Northern Ireland’s bad luck continued in the 27th minute, Edin Visca pouncing on Lewis’ slip to tee up Dzeko, who made no mistake with a tidy first-time finish.

Lewis could have been at fault for a second Bosnia-Herzegovina goal when he appeared to play Dzeko onside from Miralem Pjanic’s set-piece, but the assistant referee’s flag spared his blushes after a blistering volley from the striker.

Whyte looked set to haul Northern Ireland level in the 66th minute, only for the 22-year-old to somehow hit the post from six yards out with the goal gaping.

The visitors were made to pay when Dzeko beat the offside trap to curl beyond Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

The woodwork again denied Whyte in stoppage time as Northern Ireland failed to stop Bosnia-Herzegovina extending their 100 per cent Nations League record to three matches.

What it means: Profligacy proves costly

Northern Ireland have had no trouble creating opportunities in their Nations League campaign, but their failure to convert those chances into goals has piled too much pressure on their defence. The positive signs are there, but unless O’Neill’s side begin to hit the target, it does not bode well heading into Euro 2020 qualification.

World-class Dzeko

Dzeko had hardly touched the ball before slotting in the opener and he showed wonderful skill for the goal that was disallowed before finally getting his second late on. With his quality up top, Bosnia-Herzegovina will be confident of securing promotion to League A when they face Austria next time out.

Lewis at fault again

It has been a difficult start to life on the international stage for Norwich City youngster Lewis, who had now made errors leading to goals in all three of Northern Ireland’s Nations League fixtures. It was only Lewis’ fifth cap, but he will need to learn quickly if he is to cement a place in O’Neill’s side.

Key Opta facts:

– Bosnia-Herzegovina are unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions, winning five and drawing three.
– Northern Ireland are winless in their last six away matches in all competitions, failing to score a single goal in that run (D2 L4).
– Two of Northern Ireland’s three shots on target in this match came in the final five minutes.
– Dzeko has been directly involved in seven goals in his last six competitive appearances for Bosnia-Herzegovina (five goals, two assists).

What’s next?

Northern Ireland face neighbours the Republic of Ireland in their next outing, before finalising their Nations League group campaign with a fixture against Austria, which will be a dead rubber if Franco Foda’s side avoid defeat against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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