The finals of the UCL DFS slate has arrived. Real Madrid come in as the underdog against Liverpool. Real Madrid finished first in La Liga and posted a league-high expected goals for of 1.95 per match. Their defense struggled, as it ranked in the middle of the pack with an expected goals allowed of 1.23. Liverpool failed to overtake Manchester City for the EPL title on the final day, but sit with an expected goals of 2.34, good for first in the league. Their defense allowed an expected goals of 0.9 per match and finished second in the EPL.
Liverpool has been in remarkable form with no defeats in their last 18 matches across all competitions. In that run, they have posted two-plus goals in 14 matches. Real Madrid has seen four losses in the same stretch of matches, with two coming against Chelsea and Manchester City in a few legs of their UCL run. They have posted three-plus goals in nine of those outings. The shutouts in their two most recent matches are not so alarming to me considering the La Liga title was already wrapped up. On paper, Liverpool has the advantage with a more sound defense and ability to match goals for goals.
Liverpool sits at +100 (BetMGM) on the money line while Real Madrid comes back at +250 (BetMGM). The previous meetings between the two clubs saw Madrid win one match 3-1, and another finishing in a 0-0 draw. This was in last year’s UCL when Liverpool where absent a key piece of their defense in Virgil Van Dijk. From a betting standpoint, I have no interest in the moneyline plays considering the evenly matched offenses. The defensive lean sits with Liverpool, but the Madrid keeper gets a huge boost over Allison in my opinion. Whichever side you fancy, the play is to lift the trophy despite the juiced odds for Liverpool. I have taken Madrid to lift the trophy at +137 (BetMGM) — simply as a homer bet.
DraftKings & FanDuel UCL DFS Soccer Picks Today 5/28
UCL DFS Captain Picks
Karim Benzema (DraftKings: $15,900, FanDuel $15)
Luis Diaz (DraftKings: $14,700, FanDuel $11)
The Captain slot is tricky when you think about a match that could go 2-2 or 0-0. The highest ownership will once again flow to Trent Alexander-Arnold. His asking price offers salary relief and his crossing volume and defensive metrics speak for themselves. In cash games, I have no problems with him despite liking Real Madrid to win the title. In GPPs, I will start with Karim Benzema. The way Real Madrid win this one would mimic how they took out the previous two EPL juggernauts and that involves Benzema contributing on the scoring. He leads La Liga in goals and the UCL. Benzema averages 1.25 goal contributions per start and has recorded a number of multi-goal matches against the world’s best defenses. His 4.10 shot per match volume is met with 39% on-target accuracy, and he handles the penalties with a number of wingers alongside him that can draw fouls in the box. The odds would suggest the goal-hunting captain ownership flow through Liverpool, with Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane, so give me the leverage of paying up for Benzema at this spot.
There is a Liverpool winger that can provide a flurry of metrics without finding the back of the net. Luiz Diaz averages 3.58 shots per match with 36.8% on-target accuracy. The Colombian international adds value with 4.60 created chances, over two open play crosses and 1.98 drawn fouls per match. He will see Daniel Carvajal on defense and the speed of Diaz gives him the advantage. Diaz sits at a price point comparable to Mane. Mane as the center forward has seen his shot volume and drawn fouls dip while Diaz’s metrics have risen, taking Mane’s previous winger role. Salah is the penalty man and EPL leading scorer. His health is a concern to me and the price does not warrant the risk of rostering him outside of those who are MME-ing tournaments.
UCL DFS Flex Plays
Vinicius Junior (DraftKings: $8,600, FanDuel $12)
Andrew Robertson (DraftKings: $7,400, FanDuel $9)
The flex spot could get complicated with a number of viable subs, which we will touch on below. Vinicius Junior is explosive on the wing and his asking price should keep his ownership low. Junior has contributed on 33% of his club’s overall scoring and does it on a mix of goals and assists. His drawn-foul rate leads the club at 2.74 per match. The speed he posses is problematic similar to that of Diaz. Junior averages 5.69 created chances to lead the club and hits the target 51% of the time of 2.79 shots per match. In cash games, roll with Diaz over Junior because the shot volume is about one per match more for Diaz with the on-target rate seeing a slight floor boost at a $1 discount. DraftKings does not award on-target shots at a high enough difference, so Junior is preferred at a savings with the upside coming in both goals and assists as opposed to heavy reliance on finding the back of the net.
Andrew Robertson seems too cheap on DraftKings. On FanDuel, the solo defender spot sits with Alexander-Arnold for me. Robertson has a floor that can easily pay off the asking price with six crosses per match and 3.37 created scoring chances. Robertson averages 2.94 won tackles and interceptions, but the matchup for Alexander-Arnold against Junior would offer a bump to his already impressive 3.79 won tackles and interceptions. Robertson is great value as a pairing with Alexander-Arnold in a low-scoring match or a one-off option in a contrarian Madrid stack.
Thiago (DraftKings: $7,000, FanDuel $5)
Thibault Courtois (DraftKings: $6,000)
Toni Kroos (DraftKings: $5,200, FanDuel $8)
There is little in the form of value plays between these two clubs. Thiago has done well to get involved offensively for Liverpool. He averages 3.58 created scoring chances and 5.47 won tackles and interceptions to lead the club on a per-90 run. Thiago does little to take his own chances at the net, with just 1.47 attempts per match, but his floor is their with defensive metrics and the upside is in his teammates finishing the chances he provides form the midfield.
The goalies have to be mentioned, as they have done well to keep each side in matches all season. Alisson comes in at $6,600, which is a cheap enough price considering what we have seen him at in showdowns throughout the season. He has faced 2.69 shots per match and allowed 0.69 goals per match. I do not think he comes away with a clean sheet in this outing, but two to three saves and a win would be enough to merit 1.35x value on the salary. The downside is allowing two to three goals and watching his team taste defeat. I would side with Thibault Courtois in GPPs. He sees 3.22 shots against with 0.81 goals allowed. The same downside applies to the Madrid keeper with allowing a barrage of goals. His form has been good despite his team allowing a number of attempts and his recent four matches in the UCL have seen north of four saves. Toni Kroos has been a non-factor in the UCL. His salary is low enough for the set shares volume. He averages 5.08 crosses and 3.59 scoring chances created. We should not expect much form Kroos, but his floor makes him a paring or one-off option in cash games.
Other Options: Ibrahim Konate (DraftKings: $5,400, FanDuel $5), Luka Modric (DraftKings: $6,800, FanDuel $8), Rodrygo (DraftKings: $7,600, FanDuel $9).
The length of the match could see extra time and have key subs deployed. The ownership of these will be significantly low and the volatility is massive for the salaries should they not get in the match. I would recommend a few shots in MME only. Diogo Jota comes to mind with the injury questions to Mohamed Salah and the extra attacker needed if Madrid strikes first. Jota sits among the team leaders in goals and averages north of three shots per match on a 90 minute run. The other key sub for the Liverpool side is Konstantinos Tsimikas. He has filled in well for Robertson, who has had a few nagging injuries similar to Salah. Tsimikas handles set shares opposite Alexander-Arnold and his open play crossing volume mimics that of Robertson.
The Madrid side would have a key sub should Rodrygo not see the starting 11. A salary relief option would come form Federico Valverde. His numbers will not jump off the page, but if he is deployed as a sub it is for defensive reinforcement. Valverde does well with won tackles and interceptions and more importantly he sits near-minimum price for spend-up ability to a number of key stars mentioned above.
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