Exeter, Devon UK • May 24, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Sport EURO 2020 Fantasy Picks: Part 1

EURO 2020 Fantasy Picks: Part 1

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(credit: Wikimedia Commons)

So how was your first week in the fantasy? Was it a Moneyball-style success or more of a car crash than you’d hoped? Either way, if you’re looking to transfer out some players and bring in some new blood, Online Sports Editor Henry Hood has a few suggestions below:

Goalkeepers

Ones to Watch

Lukas Hradecky (£4m)

Hradecky for Finland (Wikimedia Commons)

At £4m, he’s the cheapest starting goalkeeper in the Euros, and if you were lucky enough to play him in his first game, he would have netted you 13 points after his clean sheet and a penalty save. Unlike most budget goalkeepers in fantasy, Hradecky is a surprisingly able goalkeeper. With excellent positioning and exceedingly good reactions, he functions perfectly as Finland’s last man in an already defensive system. His only flaws: he plays for Finland, and is unlikely to progress very far, and he also has a tendency to spill a shot or make an error. Either way, at such a cheap price, he’s an excellent backup option for your team that won’t break the bank.

Thibaut Courtois (£6m)

Courtois for Belgium (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Keeping a clean sheet in his first game, Courtois showed again why he’s the Rolls Royce of goalkeepers this tournament. He’s running off excellent form with Real Madrid this season and displays the same excellence for Belgium that won him the Golden Glove back in the 2018 World Cup. His ability to claim crosses and his super-human reach that negates any chance of conceding from range means he is almost impossible to beat. In front of an ageing defence, he may still concede but with Lukaku’s form Belgium look set to make a deep run into the tournament. At £6m, he’s a luxury you may not be able to afford, but he’ll be worth the money.

Tomas Vaclik (£5m)

Vaclik for the Czech Republic (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Relatively unknown before this tournament having been a backup option for Sevilla this season, Vaclik had an outstanding first game against Scotland and silently outshone Patrick Schick’s heroics. Admittedly, many of his saves were last-ditch but he looks to be having a break of form that could be vital if the Czech Republic make it into the knock-outs, just like Keylor Navas did for Costa Rica back in 2014. As a keeper who hasn’t had whole season starting games, he’s a gamble, but if you’re looking for an alternative avenue for points that could bump you above the rest, he could be the one for you.

Ones to Avoid

David de Gea (£5.5m)

David de Gea for Spain (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

I’m being biased here as a disgruntled Manchester United fan, but given he didn’t even start over the fretful Unai Simon in Spain’s first match, he’s certainly not worth having in your fantasy. Any chance of redemption after a sub-par season looks unlikely, and with such huge pressure, he’s likely to implode if he is given a start. Steer clear.

Kasper Schmeichel (£5m)

Kasper Schmeichel signing autographs for Denmark (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

This is a harsh call given the recent trauma with Eriksen, but there are statistics to back this up. Schmeichel has had a good season for Leicester, and will always have the ability to pull off match-winning saves, but mistakes are dribbling into his game now, like his in Leicester’s last game of the season. In a knock-out tournament and in a squad that is not only reeling from a near-death experience but also without their main playmaker, they’ll be a gamble. More importantly, Schmeichel had an underwhelming season for Leicester, performing marginally better than the average goalkeeper on ‘XS’ metrics (expected saves per 90). The stats never lie, and even though he’s a cheap option, your money could be better placed elsewhere.

Defenders

Ones to Watch

Vladimir Coufal (£5.1m)

Coufal for the Czech Republic (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Crosses and attacking runs are Coufal’s speciality, and he’s proven that for West Ham and now for the Czech Republic. His assist for Patrick Schick against Scotland and his clean sheet made him one of the top performers in the defender category, and if the Czech’s continue their form he’s very likely to continue earning your fantasy team points. With England being notoriously error-prone in defence and Croatia looking rather sluggish, he’s likely to pick up more points in his next coming games.

Leonardo Spinazzola (£5.5m)

Spinazzola warming-up for Atalanta (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Italy’s cheapest starting defender and also one of their most attacking defenders makes Spinazzola a bargain. With Italy’s attacking prowess and form they look set for a strong run in EURO 2020 so Spinazzola is likely not only to play more games but bag more points too. His assist and clean sheet against Turkey netted 13 points in fantasy, proving his worth already.

Thomas Meunier (£5.6m)

Meunier for Belgium (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Belgium’s main weakness in their squad is their lack of full-backs, and Meunier is effectively the only good player for Belgium in these positions, meaning his position as a starter is almost impossible to lose. Having enjoyed a quiet season for Dortmund, with an average tackle success rate of 70% in defence, but only coughing up one goal and one assist in 21 games, he may not have been an obvious choice. But for Belgium, propped up by Vertonghen and Alderweireld in defence what might be their ‘Last Dance’ in international football and world class teammates like Courtois and Lukaku, he’s thriving. One goal, one assist and a clean sheet meant he swept the table with points, and as long as Belgium keep winning, he will keep on earning points.

Ones to Avoid

Soyuncu or Kabak

Soyuncu for Turkey (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Anyone who went full Moneyball may have opted for a Turkish defender in their fantasy, given they had the highest clean sheet percentage out of anyone in their qualifiers for this tournament. Soyuncu had a strong season for Leicester too, leading many to suggest he was an improvement on Maguire (the world’s most expensive defender). However, one look at Turkey’s opening game suggested otherwise, with the team imploding at the back after an own goal and losing any discipline required to mount a comeback. It could be early nerves in the tournament, but it’s not a good sign, so my advice is to stay clear of them.

Midfielders

Ones to Watch

Kalvin Phillips (£5m)

A young Kalvin Phillips for Leeds (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Tipped as the next Pirlo by a rabid English press, he’s certainly got his fair share of praise after an energetic performance against Croatia. Yes, he’s more of a defender and less likely to earn points, but in Southgate’s defensive system he seems to be thriving in the roaming ‘6’ role. 1 assist, a clean sheet and quietly excellent defensive numbers make him a good pick if your midfield underperforms in the fantasy league.

Berardi (£6m)

Berardi in action for Sassuolo (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Perhaps a more abstract suggestion here, but as Italy’s top scorer in qualifying and having netted 17 goals for a struggling Sassuolo in Serie A this season, it’s difficult to see why Berardi won’t start scoring. Admittedly, he didn’t score against Turkey in a game that ended with the attackers queuing up for goals, but he did earn an assist and with games upcoming against Switzerland and Wales, he’s likely to score. Both Wales’ Ward and Switzerland’s Sommer are likely to frustrate Italy’s main avenues of attack given their excellent form, goals from elsewhere with Berardi seem inevitable.

Gini Wijnaldum (£8m)

Wijnaldum for the Netherlands (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In a Dutch team in tactical chaos under Frank De Boer, Wijnaldum still managed an assist and had an impressive opening game for the Oranje. Sat comfortably with Barcelona’s Frankie de Jong in midfield and seemingly now with a point to prove given his transfer to PSG, he’s a good pick. His ability to carry the ball and his press resistance is vital for an under-disciplined Dutch side that struggle to thrive under De Boer’s ever-changing formation choices. With Depay in form too, Gini is likely to pick up yet more points.

Ones to Avoid

Jack Grealish (£7.5m)

A young Jack Grealish for Aston Villa (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

For whatever reason, Grealish just doesn’t look likely to start or make a big enough of an impact off the bench to warrant a place in your fantasy team. Foden appeared excellent for England, and even when he was subbed off Grealish didn’t get the nod from Southgate. It’s a shame, and something I hope I get proven wrong by, but it doesn’t look like EURO 2020 will be his tournament.

Chiesa (£7m)

Italy are excellent, but given how good Berardi has been for them it’s unlikely the youngster who spent the season on loan at Juventus will get much game time over him. Unless he becomes a super-sub, Chiesa will sit as an expensive bench warmer not only for Italy but also for your fantasy team.

Attackers

Ones to watch

Romelu Lukaku (£11.1m)

Lukaku for Belgium (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

He’s shaved his head for the tournament and looks every bit like the world-class striker he’s always been tipped to be. Hair jokes aside, Lukaku has continued his electrifying form for Inter Milan with the Belgian national team even without De Bruyne spoon-feeding him assists. His opening two goals against Russia suggests he’s brushed off his issues with clinical finishing, and with his improved fitness since his Manchester United days, there doesn’t seem to be much stopping him this tournament.

Breel Embolo (£8m)

Embolo back in his Schalke days (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Embolo has silently been one of the hottest young prospects in football but has been out of the spotlight for a while after suffering a broken ankle in 2017 and countless other knicks and ligament tears. His goal for Switzerland in their opening match doesn’t tell the whole story, and anyone who watched the highlights would have seen his countless other efforts that were either saved or put narrowly wide. With only 5 goals for Borussia Monchengladbach this season in over 30 games, his club form has hardly been impressive, but at the ripe age of 24, he could be coming into his prime. This could be his breakout tournament, so if you’re looking for a gamble, Breel could be your man.

Ones to Avoid

Teemu Pukki (£7m)

For a striker who struggled in the Premier League, it also looks like EURO 2020 is also too much for Pukki. He was Finland’s star man in qualifying but in an already underwhelming side where service is sparce, he simply does not look like the poacher he can sometimes be.

Burak Yilmaz (£8m)

Yilmaz for Turkey (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

If you’d done your research, Yilmaz would’ve looked like an excellent choice for such a cheap price. He won the league in France with Lille and seamlessly replaced Victor Osimhen upfront after his recent departure to Napoli, becoming yet another gem found by Luis Campos in recruitment. For Turkey, in qualifying, he performed admirably but Turkey doesn’t look like a threat now and Yilmaz, regardless of his talent, doesn’t look like scoring.

Timo Werner (£8.5m)

Having been a specialist for Chelsea this season in missing clear-cut chances, he’s just as questionable for Germany. He might nick a goal or two since Germany don’t have many other options upfront, but it’s incredibly unlikely. For his own sake, I’d love to be proven wrong as he was a different man in his Leipzig days. It seems as though he has the same Chelsea striker curse that has claimed Falcao, Crespo, Torres, Higuian and Pato to name a few

So, there we have it! Try not to miss the transfer deadlines, and best of luck with your team. If you haven’t already, feel free to join our Fantasy League which promises a £20 Amazon prize for the winner. The code to join is 46R9BX9A06.

-Henry Hood

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