UCL Fantasy Football: the importance of ball recoveries

Ball recoveries are a relatively untapped resource in #UCLfantasy – but they could make all the difference to your side.

Most balls recovered 2019/20
Most balls recovered 2019/20

Fantasy managers are always looking for anything that could give their squad an extra edge, and the points on offer for ball recoveries – a relatively little-known element of the game – could be just the job.

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How do ball recoveries work?

Pick your Champions League Fantasy Football team now
Pick your Champions League Fantasy Football team now

Ball recoveries were introduced into the game last season and offer #UCLfantasy managers another avenue into scoring points aside from the standard goals, assists and clean sheets. Every player who records three completed ball recoveries in a match is awarded one additional point to their overall matchday score. For example, if your player was to record six completed ball recoveries on Matchday 1, they will earn two additional fantasy points.

Who do ball recoveries benefit?

Ball recoveries benefit players who play in positions that would not normally see them accrue many #UCLfantasy points. These include defensive midfielders, who are often tasked with breaking up play and winning the ball back from opposition. Central defenders have also benefitted hugely from a Fantasy perspective since ball recoveries were introduced. Indeed, the top three players who recorded the most ball recoveries last season were all centre-backs.

Which players stood out last season?

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk led the way in 2019/20
Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk led the way in 2019/20Liverpool FC via Getty Images

In terms of ball recoveries, last season’s stand-out player was Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, who recorded a total of 81 completed ball recoveries in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League. The Dutchman also recorded the highest amount of recoveries in a single game, winning the ball 19 times against Salzburg on Matchday 2 to earn an extra six #UCLfantasy points.

Coming in just behind him were Dortmund’s Mats Hummels and Leipzig’s Lukas Klostermann, with both defenders recording 79 ball recoveries throughout the campaign. Fourth on the list was central midfielder Thiago Alcántara, who joined Liverpool this summer from reigning European champions Bayern. All four of these players represent sides who employ a high pressing game with the goal of recovering the ball as quickly as possible when out of possession. #UCLfantasy managers should look to take this into account when selecting players for their squads with a view to acquiring as many ball recovery points as possible.

Top five UEFA Champions League ball-winners in 2019/20

NamePositionRecoveriesRecovery Points2019/20 Team
Virgil van DijkDefender8124Liverpool
Mats HummelsDefender7924Dortmund
Lukas KlostermannDefender7923Leipzig
Thiago AlcántaraMidfielder7824Bayern (now Liverpool)
Thiago SilvaDefender6920Paris (now Chelsea)

We'll be updating you on all the top UEFA Champions League ball-winners ahead of each matchday so keep your eyes peeled on the Gaming Hub for updates as the season progresses.