With only four teams left in the competition, Hardly Athletic's selection for the penultimate round of matches presents few problems – although with a maximum of six transfers permitted and at least seven players needing changing, perhaps matters won't be as straightforward as I'd hoped.
Goalkeeper needs rethinking as Gianluigi Buffon and Salvatore Sirigu bit the dust in the quarter-finals, as did their defensive team-mates Arturo Vidal (Juventus) and Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain FC) plus Dany Nounkeu (Galatasaray AŞ). In midfield Málaga CF's Isco will play no further part, and the same is true for Galatasaray striker Burak Yılmaz – although an injury that has kept Toni Kroos out since the first leg of FC Bayern München's quarter-final against Juve muddies the waters somewhat.
I'm expecting goals in both semi-finals this week, so will only change one of my two keepers – Buffon cost €7.0m so he makes way, with Bayern's Manuel Neuer my new No1. Removing Vidal and Thiago Silva frees up a further €11.5m (with Nounkeu just €4.0m, I'm judging he's not worth replacing as any new player would cost substantially more), allowing me to bring in Dortmund's quarter-final hero Felipe Santana and Bayern's Philipp Lahm.
In midfield Isco goes and I can't afford passengers at this stage so Kroos has to make way too. I've gone for Bayern's David Alaba as he offers a decent goal threat and, most crucially, is cheap, which also means I can afford to bring in another Dortmund player – Mario Götze this time.
Despite his goals, Burak Yılmaz was a cut-price option up front (€6.5m) so I can't afford to splash out too much on a new striker. Robert Lewandowski proves just beyond my budget, so let's hope second-choice Thomas Müller comes up with the goods. Although I'm backing both German clubs at home this week, not surprisingly – given they're the competition's top two scorers – I'm sticking with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo up front. The latter remains my captain.
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