FanDuel Champions League Single-Game Helper: Chelsea vs. Manchester City (5/29/21)
The Champions League final takes place at 3 p.m. EST on Saturday, and it's an all-English bout between Manchester City and Chelsea.
Man City are the favorites, listed at -115 to win, per FanDuel Sportsbook. With the match at +126 to go over 2.5 goals, this is expected to be a low-scoring affair. City are +120 to go over 1.5 goals while Chelsea are +330. (Betting lines may change after the article is published.)
The Blues have fared well against City this season. Manchester City have suffered only seven defeats in all competitions, and two of them came against Chelsea. Early in the EPL campaign, City won, 3-1, at Stamford Bridge, but Chelsea won, 2-1, at the Etihad late in the season and also defeated Man City, 1-0, in an FA Cup semifinal. It's worth mentioning, however, that City sat some key players for the late-season EPL match, and the aggregate expected goals from the two league matches were 4.6-1.6 in favor of City, per FBRef.
FanDuel is offering single-game contests for the big matchup. While scoring is the same to the normal UCL offerings, roster requirements are different. You have $50 to work with and need to roster four forwards/midfielders -- one in a captain slot, where the player's points are multiplied by 1.5 -- along with a defender.
Now that we have the lay of the land, which players should you roster for Saturday's UCL final?
Kevin De Bruyne ($15), Manchester City
De Bruyne is a chalk player on normal, multi-match slates, and he figures to be a go-to option for the masses in this one. He's easy to love as he offers the best floor/ceiling combination on the slate thanks to his solid goal-scoring upside (+230 anytime goal odds) and ability to create chances, which is insulated by his role on free kicks and corners. Said floor should come in handy with this match expected to be a low-scoring one (+126 to go over 2.5 goals). City are just +120 to score two-plus goals.
If you want to fade De Bruyne -- either outright or in the captain spot -- there are some valid reasons to do so. The biggest is that he is a good bet to be the most popular captain, so for game-theory reasons, you should want to look elsewhere. On top of that, he has lost some of his upside lately due to the emergence of Riyad Mahrez, who we'll elaborate on shortly. Mahrez took City's last vital penalty (at Dortmund) and also scored a crucial free kick at PSG. If Mahrez is on pens -- which looks to be the case -- as well as pilfering some free kicks and corners, that's a blow for KDB's outlook.
I'll probably be light on De Bruyne relative to the field, but it would surprise no one if the Belgian had a monster game on the grand stage.
Riyad Mahrez ($14), Manchester City
As we laid out, Mahrez's DFS stock has gotten a shot in the arm lately. Not only has he siphoned some corners and free kicks, he appears to be City's first-choice penalty taker. That's massive on a single-game slate.
And Mahrez has been playing great overall. Over his past eight matches, which covers both legs of the UCL quarters and semis, Mahrez has four goals and three assists. He's racked up 18 shots (seven on target) in that span and has logged at least 87 minutes in every match but the meaningless season-finale versus Everton. He's a nailed-on starter with a great shot to play most of the 90-plus minutes.
With +230 goal odds, Mahrez is every bit as good of a play as KDB is. It'll be interesting to see how captain percentages shake out between the two of them as I expect them to be the most popular captain picks. If you told me Mahrez would be a lot less popular of a captain than KDB, I'd load up on Mahrez. If you told me their percentages would be close, I'd be more interested in being heavy on De Bruyne. But there are some other good options if you want to go elsewhere at captain.
Timo Werner ($13), Chelsea
Among Chelsea's expected starters, Werner has the best goal odds (+290), and with the masses likely to choose a City player at captain, Werner profiles as a fun leverage play. For all his struggles in his first season in London, the German is tied for the team lead in goals (12) and is also pacing the Blues in assists (12) in all competitions.
His pace should come in handy against City as Chelsea will likely see less of the ball than they usually do -- although Chelsea out-possessed City in two of their three meetings this season -- which can open up space for Werner on the counter. In the three matchups with City, Werner totaled two assists and four shots (one on target). Chelsea are just +330 to go over 1.5 goals, so no one on their team offers monster upside.
Phil Foden ($11), Manchester City
Foden's performances and modest salary should make him a popular choice on Saturday, but I don't think he'll be a chalk captain pick. I like to get kinda weird but not all that weird with my captain spot, and Foden is my favorite captain play on the slate. He's got 16 goals and 10 assists across all competitions. His rate of 0.71 non-penalty goals plus assists per 90 minutes is second on City behind De Bruyne (0.79). Foden has been spectacular this season, and he's at +230 to score, the same as KDB and Mahrez.
Christian Pulisic ($10), Chelsea
Pulisic isn't a lock to start, and while the five-subs rule does make using a sub in single-game DFS not all that crazy of an idea, I probably won't do it. If he starts, Pulisic's play-making ability should be key for Chelsea. Despite all the talent the Blues have in attack, goals can be hard to come by for this side. That should be especially true against a City defense that shipped just 32 goals in 38 EPL matches. But Pulisic has the ability to unlock any defense, and his +390 goal odds aren't too shabby when compared to the rest of the Blues.
Mason Mount ($12), Chelsea
Mount has been really good this season, and he handles a bunch of set-piece work for Chelsea, raising both his floor and his ceiling. The issue with Mount is that floor really hasn't been there in the UCL as he hasn't scored more than 8.6 FanDuel points in his last four UCL matches in which he didn't get a goal. The chances created have dried up. He played in two of the three clashes with City and fired a total of zero shots on goal. So, yeah, why should we be into him? Mostly for his corner and free-kick duties, and his +450 goal odds could be third-best among Chelsea's starters depending on how they line up.
Ilkay Gundogan ($7), Manchester City
Gundogan's insane mid-season scoring tear was never going to last, but he's still City's top goal scorer with 17 in all competitions despite scoring only once for City since March 20th. He has kept taking shots, recording seven shots over City's last three EPL matches, which turned into three on target and one goal. But he didn't take a single shot over the two legs versus PSG in the semifinals. This is really pretty simple -- the German is $7 and has +250 goal odds, which is a better number than any of Chelsea's likely starters. Gundogan is a stellar point-per-dollar play, and the salary gives you breathing room elsewhere.
Jorginho ($7) and N'Golo Kante ($5), Chelsea
Chelsea's two deep-lying midfielders are appealing for different reasons.
With Jorginho, the main attraction is his role on penalties. He's 8-of-11 from the spot this season and is +480 to score a goal. He should also be busy in the middle of the pitch trying to stifle City, so while he almost surely won't get a goal in open play, the Italian shouldn't be a total dud if he doesn't net a pen.
As for Kante, these are the type of matches in which he can thrive. The Frenchman should be doing his everywhere-at-once act versus City's high-powered attack. In the two EPL meetings with Man City, Kante averaged 2.0 tackles, 2.5 blocks. 1.5 interceptions and 0.5 clearances. He'd likely benefit from Chelsea jumping out front and then absorbing pressure, and he's capable of pushing near 10 FanDuel points on solely defensive actions. At $5, he's a viable punt, but we're not starved for value on this slate.
Joao Cancelo ($10), Manchester City
While Cancelo had a big season for City, he's not a surefire starter as Oleksandr Zinchenko ($7) could get the nod, which is what WhoScored predicts. If Cancelo is in there, he's got the best goal-scoring upside among this slate's defenders. He has totaled three goals and five assists across all matches, and he's +750 to score in this one. Personally, I don't like using high-salary defenders on single-game slates; I'd rather spend the coin elsewhere. But if you want to capture upside at defender, Cancelo is a fine play.
Reece James ($7), Chelsea
James checks a few boxes as someone who can contribute at both ends. He takes some corners and free kicks, and he should have to tend to his defensive chores versus City. Plus, he comes at an easy-to-fit-in salary. James has scored one goal with five assists in 33 starts across all competitions. The ideal game script for him would likely be Chelsea falling behind, which would probably result in James pushing forward more in attack.
Ruben Dias ($6), Manchester City
Three center-backs -- Dias, Thiago Silva ($6) and Antonio Rudiger ($7) -- are listed at $7 or $6. You can make a fine case for any of them, and if you use one alongside Gundogan, Jorginho or Kante, you'll be able to go nuts at your other three forward/midfield slots.
Of the trio, I lean Dias. He's a rock at the back for City, and he averaged 3.0 clearances, 2.0 tackles, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 interceptions over the two semifinal legs versus PSG, scoring 9.1 and 10.4 FanDuel points from just his defensive actions in those two matches and adding the five-point clean-sheet bonus in the second leg. City are +114 to keep a clean sheet, and if this winds up being a one-goal, tight slate, the clean-sheet bonus could matter a great deal.