How to Win Euro 2020 – Part 2
Time is short so let us be (quite) brief!
This article will follow on from the ‘scene setting’ of my part 1 and will outline some specific approaches to Fanteam Euro 2020. I hope there are some genuine nuggets in here but I have to admit, seeing the amount of quality content the community has created, and the strategies people have come up with… it’s really making it all the sweeter when I win now!
First we’ll have a look at the fixtures and consider which teams we want to cover, and which matches we should be targeting. Then I’ll share my player shortlist and explain why I’ve picked them, before putting together a team, and more importantly a plan, for the group stages.
So I’ve taken a popular bookmaker’s odds on clean sheets & likelihood of a team scoring 3 or more. Home teams are bold, underlined if all 3 games are at home. You’ll notice I’ve also put to the side who the qualifiers from the group would play in the next round, more on that in a bit.
There’s a few things to unpack here. I’ll whip through a few observations at a pace, culminating with who I’m targeting…
Firstly note the home teams – particularly Russia and Germany – caught my eye, maybe we shouldn’t be so quickly written off as I’ve seen on social media.
Secondly, having a look at the path after qualifying (on the right) I would say yet again England find themselves in a group they might rather come 2nd in than 1st. And they have priors of seemingly ‘throwing’ the group win for an easier route to the final in the last tournament.
Next a bombshell. I personally will not be considering any players from that group. I am a proud Scot and I can bring myself to let fantasy mess with my experience supporting Scotland, finally at a tournament after all this time. However I don’t think this is much of an issue, in short England players are overpriced and rotation risks, the element where they might not be 100% motivated to win the group come the final game is a good thing to side-step as well.
That brings me on to my next point, as mentioned in my previous article. I don’t think we can expect the big teams to be fielding full teams in the 3rd games.
3rd round Matches that Concern me
Italy (v Wales)
Belgium (v Finland)
Netherlands (v North Macedonia)
England (v Czechs)
Spain (v Slovakia)
Looking at the odds above, these are absolutely some of the juiciest fixtures – so it’s a real risk/reward scenario. The one game that does jump out to me is Germany v Hungary. With Germany at home and looking like they might just be coming into form – there’s every likelihood they’ll need a result too, even if they’ve been doing quite well to that point. The same is probably true of Portugal & France throughout the group stages – they will not feel safe to take the foot off and might have a bit of a peeing contest when it comes to whipping Hungary.
When it comes to clean sheets & big attacking returns, there seems two distinct routes to success – picking the cream of Italy, Spain, (England), Netherlands and perhaps Belgium is the obvious way. The second path is to play a little bit of rotation – Germany, France, Portugal v Hungary and then perhaps also targeting certain opposition with picks from perhaps ‘2nd tier’ teams.
GW 1 – Denmark (v Finland), Austria (v North Macedonia), Poland (v Slovakia)
GW 2 – Russia (v Finland), Ukraine v (North Macedonia), Sweden (v Slovakia)
GW 3 – Austria v Ukraine (either side), Sweden v Poland (either side), Denmark (v Russia)
Again the 3rd gameweek options look a little weaker / trickier to pick – but probably more chance your player isn’t rested. And with the lack of transfers or chips within the group stages I think we’ll need to have at least some kind of a plan in place to be in a good place, or at least have a calculated gamble in mind.
Next we’ll have a look at some of the options, before ultimately I’ll reveal my selections.
Team & Player Options
Before we get on to my shortlist, here’s a snapshot of some data I collected about the squads. What I’m actually showing here relates to the predicted starting XIs specifically.
Some takeaways for me are how even the average ages are at starting XI level, England, Ukraine, Spain & Turkey comparatively young with Russia, Poland and Portugal ageing forces. Spain look likely to play with a particularly inexperienced team, and have had a bumpy build up by all accounts. Germany look to have some proven sources of goals in the team.
Next up is my player shortlist. The stats are from Uefa Nations League, Euro Qualifying & World Cup Qualifiers. No friendlies and excluding all penalties. I’ve included Shots on Target and Mins / Match as indicators to those additional avenues to point scoring, but remember only Midfielders & Forwards get a bonus point for finishing the game.
My criteria for picking defenders is that I always want some attacking potential even at basement prices. When it comes to fantasy points I’m greedy. And clean sheets can be lost so easily. Odds above show the best teams in the best games have roughly a 50/50 chance of keeping the clean sheet.
If you do the expected points math it just reinforces my idea of going for cheaper, perhaps more attacking options. They’re also probably more reliably going to get all 3 games and in some cases have very reasonable clean sheet odds too.
Defender highlights include Alba (6.5) (his name means Scotland) who might be needed in the Spain team to add experience. He’s not been exactly nailed on recently and is expensive but a standout potential for clean sheets and attacking returns with Spain’s fixtures. Similarly named Alaba (5.0) at Austria seems a must with good potential at both ends of the pitch, although I don’t strongly rate their defence they will be motivated with a realistic chance of knockout stages and have unfinished business from the last euros. Russia’s Fernandes (4.5) is a proven attacking wingback, much like Rodriguez (5.0) of Switzerland who should still be on penalties despite his recent friendly miss (he also has a recent friendly goal). These options all show up well on Shots on Target per 90… might be good for 1-2 points of bonus during group stages for that alone.
In attack I’ve mostly picked out premium options, if you think back to the fixture grid above my thought is to buy as many lottery tickets as possible to the David v. Goliath matchups and have players who can get multiple attacking returns. (how did David v. Goliath turn out again anyway?)
Some of the options I’ve left on the shortlist with no intention of picking them, just as a nice benchmark for stats. Certainly Bale (6.0), Calhanoglu (5.5), Shaqiri (7.0) and Golovin (7.0) don’t look out of place as slightly cheaper talisman for slightly less fancied sides. Some of the swedish options disappointed me stats-wise and Bruno Fernadnes seemed less influential than I thought. Dzyuba (5.5) is definitely more firmly on my radar as a budget pick, although I’m not ignoring the popular Yilmaz (4.5) either, despite him being less proven recently for his country.
It seems a waste of both of our time to discuss the big hitters. So I won’t. Until the next paragraph anyway.
Skip to the end…. (Team Reveal)
I will probably enter 3 or 4 teams.
Team 1 will be a very continental template team with Italy defenders and Harry Kane, etc. This will be done on autopilot though the group stages and I’ll aim to go with twittersphere consensus as we go along.
Team 2 will be a late entry as discussed in my previous article. Remember you can get full average points and enter for GW 2. Could really work well.
Team 3 will be the one I share with you now, my favourite worked through strategy with my favourite picks. I like it so much I might even enter it twice with some slight differences as I’ll mention as I take you through it.
Austria 4m keeper and Bundesliga star Alaba double-up against Finland, ready to rotate with Shunin and Mario Fernandes of Russia for their game against North Macedonia. Maehle & Rodriguez are good options for weeks 1 and 3 for the very least, and Gosens can be played in weeks 2 and 3 I feel. All options pose significant attacking potential (in the fixtures anyway) and goalkeepers can be busier than premium options for save points. But the big thing is here, it’s a cheap defence.
This allows all my favourite attacking talisman options up front and stashing Gnabry on the bench for the following weeks when others run into tougher fixtures. This is also where I’ll use my transfers to almost certainly bring in a France option to captain for week 2 and go from there.
This team also has 500k in the bank to cover any annoying price rises – and like I mentioned above, many of the options up front could be switched to various other interesting alternatives. Inevitably this lineup is slightly biased towards week 1 fixtures but I could do an alternative lineup with GW2 more in mind.
The trickiest question is going to be – who to captain!