This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.
The second leg tie between Manchester City and Real Madrid should be one of the premier European matches of the entire season. The two teams drew 1-1 in the opening leg in Madrid, with Vinicius Junior opening the scoring against the run of play before Kevin De Bruyne equalized in the second half with an equally brilliant strike.
If you prefer Showdown content in video form, Adam Zdroik discussed Wednesday's massive second leg at the Etihad.
3:00 pm: Manchester City vs. Real Madrid
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The match statistics show that Manchester City held a majority of the possession, but Real Madrid defended very effectively. City only totaled 0.55 expected goals and Jack Grealish even mentioned in a pitchside interview after the match that he felt they would need to score a goal outside the box if they would score one at all. The odds might have City as solid favorites, but I think it will play out closer than expected. After all, it has always been unwise to count out Real Madrid in a Champions League knockout match.
I think De Bruyne ($11,000) is the natural captain choice in cash-game formats. He has been dominant in his recent starts, including a goal and 16-point floor in the reverse fixture. Without Riyad Mahrez or Phil Foden on the pitch, I expect he will take most of the set pieces, as well.
Things become a bit more tricky with your flex positions. I think Jack Grealish ($8,400) remains a good point-per-dollar value in all contest formats. He was rested over the weekend and registered six shots assisted with three fouls drawn in the reverse fixture. Erling Haaland ($10,200) deserves to be considered with his -190 goalscoring odds, but he is always a frustrating name to click in cash games. If he doesn't score a goal, he really doesn't have much of a floor given his price.
In this particular matchup, I'm not sure where else I want to allocate my salary. Vinicius ($10,200) is close to his price from last week, but I think his goal was against the run of play and Kyle Walker ($4,200) did an excellent job defending him. This makes me think Vinicius doesn't have the floor to justify his price in cash games. I'd rather find the $1,400 I need to play Haaland than play an equally goal dependent Karim Benzema ($8,800).
Another aspect of the slate that makes it easier to pay up for Haaland is the lack of compelling mid-range options. Toni Kroos ($6,400) is dependent on set pieces to reach a very modest six-to-eight point floor, which feels fadable to me. I'd rather try to find the $800 needed to fit in Ilkay Gundogan ($7,200). He's coming off a two-goal, one-assist performance over the weekend where he took a few corners and a direct free kick. His floor is probably the same as Kroos' but with a much higher ceiling.
There aren't many viable punts outside of center-backs. David Alaba ($4,000) might start at left-back should Eder Militao ($3,200) start. I think that's a fair price for a full-back and Alaba takes the occasional direct free kick. Rodri ($4,800) is priced favorably compared to his teammates. You can usually pencil in a shot or two from him and I think I prefer him to Dani Carvajal ($4,600), who has a difficult defensive matchup against Grealish. Finally, Eduardo Camavinga ($4,400) logged an assist and 11 floor points in the first leg along with eight floor points over the weekend in league play prior to injury. He's drawn four fouls, created two chances, and shot at least once in his past two starts. Even if you think Camavinga is playing above expectation, he's not a risky play at this price.
I think Ederson ($7,600) is overpriced for his win and clean sheet odds, so if I play a goalkeeper in cash games, I'm most likely to consider Thibaut Courtois ($5,400). Courtois has had some heroic Champions League performances and a six-point floor performance based on saves might outscore the other players in his price range.
Last week, I was a fan of constructions with four Real Madrid pieces paired with De Bruyne and Grealish. The odds might have Real Madrid as big underdogs in a difficult away matchup, but I'm perfectly fine betting on their experienced squad again in larger GPPs. You can save $1,000 in salary by captaining Benzema over De Bruyne and you can boost other Real Madrid players when you put someone like Benzema in the captain spot. I like this tactic as a way of getting exposure to players like Kroos, Luka Modric ($6,200) or Federico Valverde ($5,800). They are capable of ceiling outputs and they should see relatively low rostership due to the odds and their prices.
Usually, I wouldn't expect an underdog goalkeeper to be a popular captain choice, but that might be the case with Courtois. There aren't many viable captain choices, especially on the lower end of the price range. I usually don't captain Ederson due to a lack of save upside, but I am more likely to try that strategy out this time. Real Madrid could easily rack up some shots from distance that are easily savable, which opens up a ceiling for Ederson rarely available in Premier League matches. His price allows you to fit in multiple City attackers, which could also lead to some unique roster constructions.