EURO 2020 Fantasy managers have been blessed with an array of defenders capable of providing great value at this summer’s tournament.
Some of the bigger sides’ best premium options can offer decent attacking potential while several €4.5m assets can also help managers invest in favourable fixtures during the group stage.
In partnership with UEFA, I have chosen my favourite premium defenders, priced between €5.5m and €6.5m, and the key budget options, costing between €4.0m and €5.0m.
BEST PREMIUM DEFENDERS
- Price bracket: €5.5m to €6.5m
Starting in Group A, Leonardo Spinazzola (€5.5m) is perhaps the best option from an Italy side who have now conceded just once in their last 12 games. At €0.5m cheaper than his right-sided counterpart Alessandro Florenzi (€6.0m), Spinazzola has four assists in 14 caps for the Azzurri and offers the cheapest nailed-on route into one of the competition’s most in-form back-lines.
In Group F, Joao Cancelo (€6.0m) and Benjamin Pavard (€6.0m) are the two most attacking members of two very strong defences. Cancelo’s goal-and-assist display against Israel on Wednesday will catapult the Manchester City full-back further onto the Fantasy radar, making it two goals and three assists in the last nine Portugal games for him.
Although none of France’s defenders are overly attacking, Pavard has a goal and an assist in his last five games for Les Bleus. He is, of course, remembered for his screamer against Argentina at the 2018 World Cup and, while a repeat is hard to bank on, he remains the best option from a strong French side all the same. That said, for his price, there may well be better options with more attacking threat from sides with far easier games than the French will face in Group F.
Spain’s Jordi Alba (€6.0m) is perhaps the most attacking defender at EURO 2020. The Barcelona man has five assists in his last five international games and faces three teams which are poor going forward, including an ever-more injury stricken Poland.
If he starts, he strikes me as the best defensive option from this premium bracket. However, watch out for the threat of Jose Gaya (€5.5m) as Luis Enrique started him in the last friendly and could pick the Valencia man for the opening match.
The final two picks in premium brackets are both England defenders. Luke Shaw (€6.0m) and John Stones (€5.5m) both look set to start for Gareth Southgate’s men against Croatia.
The Three Lions manager seems intent on playing a defense-first five at the back, which should massively benefit both Shaw and Stones. England’s set-piece focus, which we saw in action at the 2018 World Cup, will also potentially benefit both. Stones scored twice against Panama in 2018 and Shaw should take over some dead-ball duties this summer. Being slightly cheaper and having a higher goal threat, Stones seems to be the better pick of the two.
BEST BUDGET DEFENDERS
- Price bracket: €4.0m to €5.0m
There are a lot of strong budget options in defence for the EURO 2020 Fantasy game. Plenty of players are setting up teams with no defenders worth more than €4.5m and there’s a strong argument that this is the best way to go when you consider the options available at this price point.
There are three types of budget defender in my eyes. Up first are the underpriced starters from big teams. Jason Denayer (€4.5m) and Pau Torres (€4.5m) both offer serious value, considering both centre-backs having starting counterparts around the €5.5m mark.
While neither of them holds any real attacking threat, their clean sheet potential alone makes them both great options. Nailed-on and at the heart of two of the best defences in qualifying, these two appear to have a low ceiling for points but also have a high baseline.
Up next are the attacking gems playing in weaker defences. Owen Wijndal (€4.5m), Robin Gosens (€5.0m), Ezgjan Alioski (€4.5m), Marcus Danielsson (€4.5m) and Joakhim Maehle (€4.5m).
Wijndal looks set to play as a left wing-back in Frank de Boer’s new 3-5-2 system for the Netherlands. Even from left-back, he has three assists in five games before the tactical shift and is now one of the most attacking pieces in this very offensive Netherlands side.
However, their defensive qualities as a side leave a lot to be desired after injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Matthias de Ligt (€5.5m), as evidenced by their recent 2-2 draw with Scotland and 4-2 loss to Turkey. With games against tricky sides like Ukraine coming up, you may well be relying on Wijndal’s attacking threat to score points.
Gosens finds himself in a similar situation. Atalanta’s flying wing-back got a goal and an assist in Germany’s recent win over Latvia, playing in his familiar left wing-back role in a 3-4-3. However, there are permanent question marks hanging over Germany’s defensive quality as a side, especially with their recent 6-0 loss to Spain and 2-1 loss to Macedonia. With France and Portugal in their group, Gosens may find both his attacking and defensive points limited.
Alioski is a familiar face to all Fantasy Premier League players. The Leeds man plays as a wing-back for North Macedonia and is, most importantly, on penalties. The Lynxes have proven that they won’t be pushovers ahead of this tournament and having a penalty-taking defender from their side may well be a risk worth taking for their relatively easy group, especially against sides like Ukraine and Austria who have recently struggled.
Danielsson is a goal-scoring centre-back for Sweden. The Dalian defender has netted three times in nine games for his country and should continue to shine in their set-piece heavy system. As mentioned with Spain, Poland have been ravaged by injuries and Slovakia have been uninspiring en-route to qualification and afterwards, so Danielsson may well be a great under-the-radar pick after Matchday 1.
Maehle is the best Fantasy pick from a strong Denmark defence. He has two goals and an assist in just six starts for Kasper Hjulmand’s side, who also play two poor attacking teams in Finland and Russia. For his price, Maehle has the potential to score very highly across the group stage as part of a defence who have conceded just once in their last five games.
Finally, there are the good value defenders from defensively-focussed sides. Martin Hinteregger (€4.5m) and Tymotheusz Puchacz (€4.0m) fall comfortably into this category. Like the undervalued defenders from big teams, these players tend to have a low ceiling but a high baseline of points.
Hinteregger is the cheapest starting defender from an Austrian side who may well have to rely on defence considering their offensive shortcomings. Das Team are under the guidance of a manager renowned for his conservative mindset in Franco Foda, and face Ukraine and North Macedonia.
Poland’s Puchacz is something of a risk, but could be one who pays off handsomely. Valued amongst the cheapest defenders in the game, the newly-signed Union Berlin man has started at left wing-back for this defensively-minded Poland side for their last two friendlies. He even scored in their 2-2 draw with Iceland.
For his price, and considering Poland’s attacking injuries up front will make them focus even more on their defence, Puchacz may turn out to be a great budget enabler for you EURO Fantasy sides.