UCL Fantasy: The Most Balls Recovered

Balls recovered. A great source of points in the Champions League fantasy football. There were too many questions about this new feature when it was introduced, because we had no data about it from previous seasons. 

It was hard to predict, how it was going to influence players points. Now we know that some players are better than others at balls recovered and that they offer stable rout to getting fantasy points.

Table of players that were best at balls recovered in previous season. We calculated average balls recovered per 90 minutes, so number of minutes played doesnot influence the results.

PlayerBalls recoveredMinutes playedBalls recovered per 90
Gvardiol3833410.24
Solet353289.6
Capaldo292819.29
Kounde464509.2
Fernando505408.33
Reinildo758168.27
Akanji414508.2
Fabinho738497.74
L. Hernandez495727.71
Meunier414847.62
Thiago Silva647577.61
Pique333937.56
Balanta334077.3
Casemiro749147.29
Otamendi638107
Onguene344377
Sule405156.99
Pepe273496.96
De Light486276.89
Hendry415406.83
Tsimikas263446.8
Goretzka354666.76
Matviyenko273606.75
Bennacer283766.7
Felipe354726.67
Konate537206.63
Hummels263586.54
Witsel344716.5
Pavard557646.48
Tomori304186.46
Van Dijk588106.44
Militao7610766.36
Upamecano466606.27
Seiwald456496.24
Kondogbia405786.23
Bastoni466666.22
Gilberto497156.17
Kante294276.11
Dias456646.1
Zaidu263896.02

Most Balls recovered in UCL Fantasy 2019/20 and 2020/21 season

Table of players that were best at balls recovered in the past seasons. Again, we calculated average balls recovered per 90 minutes, so number of minutes played doesnot influence the results.

Player19/20 Ball recovered per 9020/21 Ball recovered per 90
Klostermann8.7811.25
Upamecano8.3110.2
Barrios89.36
BlindNot Available9.3
Wober8.339.3
Casemiro6.919.1
MukieleNot Available8.59
FabinhoNot Available8.51
Hummels9.888.32
MazraouiNot Available8.23
KristensenNot Available8.2
Alcantara8.528.08
DjimsitiNot Available7.75
CanceloNot Available7.46
AkanjiNot Available7.45
ToloiNot Available7.44
De Vrij8.177.33
De Roon6.247.25
D. CarlosNot Available7.16
C. MataNot Available7.08
Marquinhos4.647
TAANot Available6.91
SuleNot Available6.91
SavičNot Available6.88
Lenglet6.626.81
Jorginho7.216.74
DaniloNot Available6.71
KantéNot Available6.69
PepeNot Available6.67
UlmerNot Available6.67
Deli7.836.51
T. Silva7.676.44
Junuzovic7.836.22
F. De JongNot Available6.08
AlabaNot Available6.05
Van Dijk9.720

How balls recovered influenced players points?

Centre backs and defensive midfielders are gaining big portion of points from this feature. That makes some centre backs much more appealing than more expensive attacking fullbacks. And there are some really cheap defensive midfielders who outscored premium mids just because of the balls recovered, too. 

We think it really changes the dynamics of our teams. Players with big balls recovered potential have “higher floor” of points. For example centre back like Hummels or VVD may end up match with 5 points with no clean sheet and with 9 balls recovered (which is pretty common for some players). Imagine what happens when they add a clean sheet to that. Huge amount of points. 

These kinds of players offer stability in their points outcome, because we don’t have to hope for attacking returns. On the other hand, their output is limited, their “points ceiling” is lower than the points ceiling of attacking players – especially in the case of defensive midfielders. You will get balls recovered points, clean sheet points and that’s it. 

A tip for your UCL squad

So how could you use it in your fantasy team? We think you should choose one really cheap defensive mid (for example Fernando) to your ucl fantasy squad – great price for stable outcome of 4-6 points per match. Then pick at least 2 or 3 centre backs who are recovering balls and have high clean sheet potential. So with a clean sheet you will get 8-10 points, without CS 3-6. That could separate your team from the rest of the crowd and gain you a few extra points that could be really valuable in long run.

Predicting Balls Recovered

Is it possible to predict how many balls certain players recover in match? Mike tries to use data and model it. Read more about it in his article: Predicting Balls Recovered: a Data-Driven Attempt

Matej Šuľan

Fantasy Football enthusiast with two top 1k finishes in FPL. Best FPL overall rank: 119th in 2019/20 season. Five top 500 finishes in UCL Fantasy, best overall rank: 23rd in 2018/19 season. Founder of Fantasy Football Reports.