SOC | Must-Haves: UCL | 12/5/17

Paulo Dybala (DK: $10,400): The first Must-Have for Tuesday’s Champions League slate is Paulo Dybala, the Argentine attacker for Juventus. Juventus enters the match as one of the heavier favorites of the eight-game slate as they battle Olympiacos away from home. The Italian powerhouse currently sit in second place within their group, with only a point advantage over Sporting Lisbon (who face off against Barcelona); a victory would allow Juventus to secure a place in the knockout stages of the competition. Olympiacos will have little to play for as the Greek club has managed only a single point through the five games in Group D. As a result, the club will not even be in contention for third place and an opportunity to continue on in the UEFA Europa League. Unsurprisingly, Olympiacos has conceded the most goals in the group with an average of over two goals per match. The reverse fixture between these sides saw Juventus walk away with a 2-0 victory, though both Juventus goals came in the second half. However, there is no question that Juventus dominated the match, gaining 75% possession and taking double the number of shots Olympiacos had. While Paulo Dybala did not find his name on the scoresheet in that match and has yet to score in the Champions League, the Argentine has been nothing short of spectacular this season. Dybala averages the most shots per match on Juventus, in both the Champions League and Serie A, with an average of approximately five. His contribution of 12 goals in Serie A also leads the club. Not only is Dybala able to add value through scoring goals, but the Argentine also has a creative influence, shown by his three assists and the central role he plays in the attack. Dybala has posted double-digit performances in each of his last 10 matches primarily due to the accumulation of peripheral stats. With Dybala’s role on set pieces, his floor increases through his crossing ability; add that in with his high shot volume and ability to draw fouls, and the Argentine already has a stable floor. Dybala’s favorable matchup against Olympiacos should allow for a greater ceiling as he can contribute through both goals and assists. As a result, we strongly recommend locking in Paulo Dybala in your lineups as a Must-Have.

Bruno Fernandes (DK: $5,300): Our second Must-Have for the slate is Bruno Fernandes, the Portuguese midfielder for Sporting Lisbon. As mentioned above, the Portuguese club goes up against Barcelona in hopes of keeping their dreams of the knockout stages alive. Barcelona are listed as the second-heaviest favorites of the eight-match slate, with the match being played in the Camp Nou. Barcelona haven’t lost at home in the Champions League in four years, and will look to keep that streak alive; however, the Spanish club is dealing with a plethora of injuries and has already secured the top spot in the group. As a result, the motivation for Barcelona might be low, allowing for Sporting Lisbon to control the tempo of the match. Lisbon will likely come out on the attacking front, as a victory will boost their chances of securing second place. However, Lisbon must also hope for a favorable result in the Juventus and Olympiacos match. Many teams don’t pose trouble to Barcelona, yet that is exactly what Sporting did in the reverse fixture. Barcelona walked away with a 1-0 victory following an own goal, and were in fact out shot by Sporting Lisbon despite having close to 70 percent of the possession. Barcelona found it difficult to create scoring chances and though the match is at home, our research suggests Sporting Lisbon is the team to target. Bruno Fernandes stands out as a key player for the Portuguese club; Fernandes typically splits corners with Marcos Acuna, who will likely return to the starting eleven after missing the last Champions League match due to injury. However, Fernandes possesses higher goalscoring upside. The Portuguese midfielder leads Sporting in shots per match and is second on the team in goals scored (all competitions). Fernandes totaled 21 points in his last Champions League match against Olympiacos after finding the back of the net, and this was due in part due to the high floor he has through his shot taking volume and crossing ability. In six Champions League starts this season (including qualifying), Fernandes is averaging approximately 13 FPTs per match. Consider the Portuguese midfielder in your lineups as a Must-Have at only $5,300.

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