Because of the short format, getting off to a good start is perhaps the single most important key to success in UEFA’s EURO 2020 Fantasy game.
Because of that, I plan to use the Limitless chip in Matchday 2, followed by a Wildcard in Matchday 3, which ensures I can treat each group stage round independently.
I have also tried to tap into home advantage where I can. This year, for the first time in its history, rather than one or two host nations, the tournament will be played at multiple venues around Europe, with many countries and cities hosting games.
Italy, Denmark, Russia, England, Netherlands, Scotland, Spain, Hungary and Germany are all guaranteed at least two or three home group games, after which the knockout draw may provide further home comforts. This is something which could be a major factor, and possibly isn’t being talked about enough.
So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to invest heavily in four of those teams mentioned above, who are all set to kick-off on home soil.
- Matchday 1 fixture: Turkey (Stadio Olimpico, Rome)
- Selections: Leonardo Spinazzola, Lorenzo Insigne
This matchup actually looks pretty evenly balanced, which could mean a tight game, but it’s one I want to have some involvement in.
Italy put up some good numbers in qualifying, and appear to be a solid unit. They play a kind of hybrid 4-3-3 system, with left-back Leonardo Spinazzola (€5.5m) often pushing forward and overlapping. His team-mate on the opposite flank, Alessandro Florenzi (€6.0m), generally sits a bit deeper and holds position, so it makes sense to target the more attacking option.
Further forward, I like Lorenzo Insigne (€8.5m), who will cut inside from the left-wing. The 30-year-old comes into EURO 2020 off the back of his best-ever scoring return in a top-flight season, netting 19 goals, which included 11 from open-play.
He loves to shoot too, and though his shot heat map suggests they aren’t always from the best locations, it’s all generally pretty encouraging. It’s also worth noting that he was one of the most creative players in Italy last season, putting up 8.4 expected assists (xA).
On the other wing, there is still uncertainty as to who will start. Domenico Berardi (€6.0m) and Federico Chiesa (€7.0m), who are both cheaper than Insigne, have been touted, but regardless of who gets the nod tomorrow night, I see a lot of chopping and changing here, especially with five substitutes allowed. We could also see that right-sided player staying wide, with the more reserved Florenzi operating behind.
- Matchday 1 fixture: Finland (Parken, Copenhagen)
- Selections: Simon Kjær, Joakim Mæhle, Christian Eriksen
Belgium are the overwhelming favourites to win this group, but Denmark could be dark horses. They will have home advantage in all three group stage matches, and by all accounts, look well organised with a solid spine. This opening fixture against Finland is a really nice one to target, too.
Simon Kjær (€4.5m) and Joakim Mæhle (€4.5m) look like the standout picks at the back, and I’m comfortable doubling up, with some bookies giving them the best chance of a clean sheet in Matchday 1.
In midfield, I’ve opted for creator-in-chief Christian Eriksen (€9.0m). Despite being used in a deeper role by Antonio Conte at Inter Milan, I expect he’ll be given license to roam all over the pitch under Kasper Hjulmand, and will more than likely be on set-piece and penalty duties. He also loves a shot from distance, which is something to keep an eye on during the tournament.
- Matchday 1 fixture: Ukraine (Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam)
- Selections: Owen Wijndal, Memphis Depay
The Netherlands look far from ready for Euro 2020 right now, which is a bit of a concern. The 5-3-2 system hasn’t convinced in recent matches, and there are still doubts around who will start in goal. However, even a weakened Dutch side should really be topping this group.
Owen Wijndal’s (€4.5m) spot in the starting XI may be at risk as the tournament progresses, especially if Frank de Boer switches to a back four, but for the opening round, he actually feels like quite an exciting pick. He put up six assists at AZ Alkmaar last season, and created more chances from open play than any other defender in the Eredivisie.
Up top, Memphis Depay (€10.0m) is both a scorer and creator, with the Netherlands attack largely based around him. His is undoubtedly their key player, and is their designated penalty taker, too, so there is lots to like.
Also, a quick word on their opponents, Ukraine. If you’re in the market for a real midfield differential, Ruslan Malinovskyi (€7.0m) is worth a look. He had the best xA rate (0.47 per 90) of any European player in the top five European leagues last season, which suggests he’ll be his side’s main creative outlet. Maybe one for Matchday 2, then?
- Matchday 1 fixture: Sweden (Estadio La Cartuja, Seville)
- Selections: Marcos Llorente, Ferran Torres
Spain comfortably navigated their qualification group, winning eight of their 10 matches, and put up excellent attacking numbers throughout.
Their plans have been disrupted after Sergio Busquets (€5.5m) and Diego Llorente (€4.5m) tested positive for COVID-19, but despite their absences, this is still a really good, technically gifted squad who should do well against Sweden.
I expect them to dominate the ball in a 4-3-3, with Thiago Alcântara (€6.0m) pulling the strings in midfield, but it’s worth noting that they aren’t quite as patient as they used to be, and will look to get runners, like Ferran Torres (€8.0m), in behind.
The Manchester City winger has impressed since being handed his opportunity in the senior setup, with six goals in 11 international appearances, and could be a real bargain if he gets enough minutes.
To be honest, I’m not completely convinced by Marcos Llorente’s (€5.0m) inclusion. He’s classified as a midfielder, but has been playing at right-back in recent matches, and is really here to make up the numbers. It’s not ideal, but with just €5.0m to spend, he seems like the best of an average bunch. If you have any other suggestions for this spot, please comment below!
So, outside of those with home advantage in Matchday 1, who else am I targeting?
- Matchday 1 fixture: Russia (Saint Petersburg Stadium, St Petersburg)
- Selections: Romelu Lukaku
Roberto Martínez’s Belgium side had an impeccable qualifying campaign, with 10 wins from 10, and have at least reached the quarter-final stage of each of the last three major tournaments. They take on a Russian side in Matchday 1 who actually look pretty good going forward, but their weakness is defence, which is why I think we can target them at the back.
Romelu Lukaku (€11.0m) looks like a must-own, given that he is Belgium’s primary goalscorer. At just 28-years-old, he’s already the leading marksman in Belgian national team history with 60 goals, and there’s little doubt he’ll add to that tally this summer. He also comes into the tournament off a prolific campaign at Inter Milan, where he scored 24 Serie A goals, the second-highest league goal total in his career.
At the back, I also considered defenders Thomas Meunier (€5.5m) and Jason Denayer (€4.5m), but remain unconvinced about Belgium’s ability to keep clean sheets. Martinez has never been the best at drilling a defence, with the Spaniard wanting Toby Alderweireld (€5.5m) and Jan Vertonghan (€5.5m), who are both past their best, to play a high line. I can see them being exposed by Russia, and specifically Aleksandr Golovin (€7.5m), who might worth a look himself once his side’s fixtures ease.
- Matchday 1 fixture: Hungary (Puskás Aréna, Budapest)
- Selections: Diogo Jota
Reigning champions Portugal have an unreal squad, it’s just a shame I can’t fit Cristiano Ronaldo (€12.0m) or one of their full-backs, Raphaël Guerreiro (€6.5m) and João Cancelo (€6.0m), in.
However, I have found a spot for Liverpool’s Diogo Jota (€8.5m), who I think will line-up on the left of Fernando Santos’ front-three. It’s a bit of a risk given that João Félix (€8.5m) is also in contention, but the consensus amongst fans seems to be that Jota will start this one, and if he does, he’s one of the best midfield options in the game.
- Matchday 1 fixture: Wales (Bakı Olimpiya Stadionu, Baku)
- Selections: Nico Elvedi
Nico Elvedi (€4.5m) has played every single competitive game for the Swiss national team under Vladimir Petković, and it’s fair to say he’s a reliable performer who has become an integral part of the national side.
He was excellent at Borussia Mönchengladbach last term, and is a nice price with a good fixture to target against Wales, whose expected goal (xG) totals throughout qualifying suggests they don’t create a lot but don’t concede much either. Famous last words, but this one has got 0-0 written all over it!
- Matchday 1 fixture: Scotland (Hampden Park, Glasgow)
- Selections: Patrik Schick
This is a punt, for sure, but I like the fixture and Patrik Schick (€8.0m) is coming off a decent season for Bayer Leverkusen, having scored 13 times in 33 appearances.
He is his side’s focal point in attack, has good movement in the box, and carries an aerial threat, too, which I think will cause Scotland’s backline plenty of problems at Hampden Park on Monday.
- Matchday 1 fixture: North Macedonia (Arena Naţională, Bucharest)
- Selections: Daniel Bachmann
- Matchday 1 fixture: Denmark (Parken, Copenhagen)
- Selections: Lukáš Hrádecký
I’m not entirely sure what to make of this Austrian side, but they do have a good Matchday 1 fixture, and Daniel Bachmann (€4.5m) is nailed-on and cheap, which is good enough for me.
The same can be said for Lukáš Hrádecký (€4.0m), who is the cheapest starting keeper available, and I’m at least hopeful Finland will be organised at the back.
So, that’s the 15 I’ve currently landed on, but I am tinkering on a daily basis, so one or two names may change before tomorrow’s deadline!
Before I finish up, in this Fantasy format, it’s important to ensure you have a good daily captaincy option, and here’s mine for Matchday 1:
- Friday – Lorenzo Insigne
- Saturday – Romelu Lukaku
- Sunday – Memphis Depay
- Monday – Ferran Torres
- Tuesday – Diogo Jota
I know this team won’t be for everyone but I hope having read this, you can at least understand why I’ve chosen the squad I have, and if you’re playing yourself, best of luck in the coming weeks!
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