With the round of 16 kicking off this week, the importance of maximising your squad is rarely more obvious; four separate matchdays give plenty of chance for substitutions. Despite most of the fixtures looking too close to call, The Scout aims to capitalise on a budget increase to €105m – so who makes the squad for the first legs?


Clean sheets are precious commodities in the knockout rounds, and Roma managed two of them in the group stage. The Italian side have had their troubles in recent weeks but were imperious at home in last season’s knockouts and budget keeper Robin Olsen (€4.2m) therefore gets the nod. Should the Swede come up short, Manchester City’s Ederson (€5.5m) will come in; the Brazilian is a costlier, but still not bank-busting, investment.


With few outright favourites in the ties, clean sheets could prove hard to come by, so The Scout has opted to cover plenty of bases. Aymeric Laporte (€5.8m) adds to the City contingent while home advantage means two other English clubs are represented despite daunting fixtures – Luke Shaw (€5.0m) is in the frame for Manchester United’s game against Paris Saint-Germain, while Liverpool and Andrew Robertson (€5.5m) welcome Bayern München. Raphaël Guerreiro (€5.6m) is included for his attacking potential given he has recently figured as a winger for Borussia Dortmund – who are at Tottenham – while Dani Carvajal (€5.4m) could offer returns at both ends of the pitch as Real Madrid visit Ajax.


Form makes two players a must-have in midfield; Manchester United’s Paul Pogba (€9.0m) has been prolific so far in 2019 while Heung-Min Son (€7.9m) has starred up front for Tottenham in the absence of Harry Kane. Leroy Sané (€8.8m) is more of a gamble, with The Scout expecting the German winger to have extra motivation at former club Schalke, while the same might be said of Jadon Sancho (€5.0m), who remains a bargain price as he returns to England with Dortmund. Philippe Coutinho (€8.5m) was Barcelona’s top midfield points scorer in the group stage, and could well add to his total against a leaky Lyon defence.


The Manchester sides also provide two players up front – both of whom cannot stop scoring right now. Hat-tricks in his last two Premier League matches mean it would be a brave #UCLfantasy manager who would overlook City’s Sergio Agüero (€10.3m) while United’s Marcus Rashford (€6.8m) was rested at the weekend and has five goals in six league appearances. Lionel Messi (€11.6m) is almost a compulsory pick – witness six goals in only four group outings in the autumn, and 11 in his last 12 Barcelona fixtures in all competitions.

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