EURO 2020 Fantasy managers should look to ensure both of their goalkeepers have the potential to score well in UEFA’s edition of the game.
With substitutions available between each Matchday 1, investing sufficient funds to rely on two viable shot-stoppers could make the difference against your mini-league rivals.
With just a few days to go until the tournament begins, and as our series profiling each nation winds down, we are summarising our research in a string of articles looking at the best players to pick by position.
In partnership with UEFA, I have chosen five premium goalkeepers, priced between €5.0m and €6.0m, and five budget options, costing between €4.0m and €4.5m to get us started.
BEST MID-PRICED AND PREMIUM GOALKEEPERS
- Price Bracket: €5.0m to €6.0m
The premium keeper bracket is absolutely bristling with talent ahead of EURO 2020. Starting in Group A, Gianluigi Donnarumma (€5.5m) is marshalling a defence currently on an eight-match run of back-to-back clean sheets who have conceded only once since September 2020. This is the best recent defensive record of any team at the EUROs this summer.
Knowing that Turkey, Switzerland and Wales are arguably all unpredictable sides has raised concerns among some Fantasy managers, although it is worth saying each of them are capable of struggling in front of goal. The Crescent Stars have largely been defence-first under coach Senol Günes, Switzerland are a team that has historically struggled to get the best out of their collection of talented individuals while Wales netted only 10 goals in qualifying.
From Group B, both Thibaut Courtois (€6.0m) and Kasper Schmeichel (€5.0m) present great options at their price points. Courtois was part of the joint-best defence in qualifying, conceding just three goals. The Belgian faces Russia and tournament debutants Finland either side of a match against a Denmark side known far more for its defence rather than its attack.
The captain and key component of that Danish defence is Schmeichel. The Leicester stalwart has a plum first game against a Finland outfit in less than impressive form. Since beating France in a November friendly, Markku Kanerva’s men have won one of their last seven matches, failing to find the net in each of their last two (against Sweden and Estonia). Meanwhile, Denmark have conceded just once in their last five games and with experienced heads like Simon Kjaer (€5.0m) in front of him, Schmeichel is in a great position to continue that record in Matchday 1.
For all the questions over England’s attacking prowess, no-one can doubt that they have been a solid side at the back of late. Even though Harry Maguire (€5.5m) is an injury doubt for Matchday 1, there have been impressive displays from Declan Rice (€5.5m) and Jude Bellingham (€6.0m) in defensive midfield, so whoever plays in defence should have adequate protection. Gareth Southgate seems set to implement a defence-first five-at-the-back system at EURO 2020, which could play perfectly into the hands of Jordan Pickford (€5.5m). England have only conceded once in their last six games and the Everton shot-stopper is clearly Southgate’s main man, and most experienced head, at the back, not to mention the most nailed-on to start compared to his outfield defenders.
The final premium pick is Spanish goalkeeper Unai Simón (€5.0m). The Athletic Bilbao custodian has started the last ten games for Luis Enrique’s men. Spain’s possession based system gives them a naturally strong defence, which has been bolstered by the recent addition of Aymeric Laporte (€6.0m); he joins a team that has kept five clean sheets and conceded just seven goals in their 12 matches since securing EURO 2020 qualification.
For his price, Simón is the cheapest starting keeper from one of the traditional bigger nations. Faced with a fairly easy group, filled with defensive-minded sides, he presents great value for money, even in the premium bracket.
BEST BUDGET GOALKEEPERS
- Price Bracket: €4.0m to €4.5m
Starting again in Group A, Ugurcan Çakir (€4.5m) has recently secured Turkey’s number-one jersey. The Trabzonspor captain slots in behind a defence that conceded only three goals during qualifying and kept eight cleans, the best record across the continent.
Turkey do still have an unpredictable element to them, best shown by beating reigning World champions France 2-0 in qualifying before recently conceding four goals across matches against Latvia and Azerbaijan.
Either way, this Crescent Stars side has a particular penchant for causing big teams problems, which could result in some defensive returns even against Italy in Matchday 1 while a rediscovery of their qualifying form would set Çakir nicely to capitalise against Wales and Switzerland in Matchdays 2 and 3.
The cheapest starting goalkeeper in UEFA’s EURO 2020 Fantasy game is Finland’s Lukas Hradecky (€4.0m) and, at the time of writing, he is also the most popular, selected by 35% of managers. However, while he can offer a great saving, the Bayer Leverkusen shot-stopper is the custodian of a relatively poor defence. Finland are now on a run of seven games without a clean sheet and recently lost 1-0 to Estonia. Faced with very strong Belgium and Denmark sides, it may be wise to invest your money in a better goalkeeper, especially considering the greater need for a stronger bench in a game that allows managers to make substitutions between days.
Netherlands are the favourites to win Group C but are currently struggling with defensive injuries and are adjusting to Frank de Boer’s new 3-5-2 system which, if the rumours are to be believed, is unpopular with the players, who are reportedly at odds over who is and is not vaccinated against COVID-19 too.
Perhaps not the best bedrock to create trust among EURO 2020 Fantasy managers, especially as the Oranje’s goalkeeper situation remains far from clear since Jasper Cillessen was sent home. Maarten Stekelenburg (€4.5m) has been handed the number-one jersey but only as far as squad numbers are concerned. Tim Krul (€4.5m) has played with the number 13 for some time and each of these two goalkeepers has played one pre-tournament friendly each. So, even in an easy group, there seem to be better options than Stekelenburg or Krul at this price point.
One of them may well be Daniel Bachmann (€4.5m). The Watford goalkeeper is part of an Austrian side managed by a famously defensive manager in Franco Foda. Playing behind two Bundesliga stalwarts in Aleksandar Dragović (€5.0m) and Martin Hinteregger (€4.5m), Bachmann has an appealing match against tournament debutants North Macedonia in Matchday 1. Bachmann kept 13 clean sheets in 23 for Watford this season, highlighting his potential between the posts.
Finally, Scotland’s David Marshall (€4.5m) is something of a left-field choice. Scotland have not traditionally been known for their defensive stability, but have gradually improved under Steve Clarke who has instilled his hard-to-beat mentality into his squad.
Marshall’s play-off final heroics against Serbia showed that he is good for save points and could even rack up some clean sheets in tight games. Considering Southgate’s recent emphasis on defence, England’s meeting with Scotland at Wembley could be a cagey affair while Scotland have recently beaten Czech Republic home and away in the Nations League, keeping a clean sheet at Hampden Park, where the two sides will meet on Monday afternoon. Although he is not an obvious choice (owned by 1% of managers) Marshall could turn out to be a great under-the-radar pick between the posts.
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