Fantasy managers will need to make these virtual Wildcards count – get it wrong and you could theoretically have zero active players for the quarter-finals, with nothing but three free transfers to remedy the situation.
It’s worth a quick look at the tournament bracket in this Frisking the Fixtures mini-special, then, as savvy buys ahead of the last 16 could save transfers further down the line.
We’ve drawn up a rudimentary colour-coded graphic above, with group stage performance, FIFA ranking and bookmaker odds used to grade the 16 remaining teams in four different difficulty ratings (dark red are the ‘toughest’ opponents, dark blue the ‘easiest’).
The bottom half of the draw is the most favourable looking on paper, with only England (4th) and Denmark (10th) sitting in the top ten of the FIFA world rankings; there are five such nations in the other half of the tournament bracket.
While one-off elimination matches can always throw up a shock or two, especially in this competition, the Netherlands‘ Fantasy assets look like the best bets for double/triple-ups on paper.
The Czech Republic, Wales/Denmark and potentially England/Germany stand in the way of Frank de Boer’s side and a place in the final, a pretty agreeable run when all things are considered.
The Dutch have scored more goals (eight) than any other team in EURO 2020 so far and are also joint-top for big chances created (14), although had arguably the least taxing group on paper and showed signs of defensive vulnerability in the five-goal thriller with Ukraine.
Above: EURO 2020 nations sorted by big chances (BCT). More player and teams stats from the tournament can be found in our Premium Members Area.
England are one of just two nations yet to concede a goal at this summer’s tournament, while no country has allowed fewer big chances (one) than the Three Lions.
There’ll be understandable trepidation in the Fantasy community about piling on Gareth Southgate’s troops for a meeting with a Jekyll-and-Hyde Germany but this round-of-16 tie might well represent their trickiest test until the final, with Sweden or Ukraine to follow at Wembley and then Denmark the highest-ranked team they can meet in the last four.
England are, incidentally, the only country that will enjoy home advantage in the remainder of the competition and will play three of their last four matches in north-west London if they make it to the final.
Italy and France have the opposite problem regarding fixture difficulty. Those two unbeaten sides have very favourable last-16 clashes against Austria and Switzerland to come, with the likes of Leonardo Spinazzola, Lorenzo Insigne and Karim Benzema good short-term Fantasy punts before more sterner tests await in the quarter-finals.
The good news on that front is that five free transfers are allowed in the official EURO 2020 Fantasy game at the semi-final stage, so any exiting players can be more easily offloaded at that point.
Above: Number of free transfers allowed per round in the official EURO 2020 Fantasy game
Of the much-fancied nations, Portugal have the trickiest path to the final. This is reflected in the bookmakers’ tournament market and they are now the seventh-favourites to win this summer’s European Championship with some of the odds-makers.
Fernando Santos’s side could well have to face Belgium, Italy, France/Spain and England if they are to lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy, nations who, like the Portuguese themselves, all sit in the top seven of the FIFA world rankings.
The tournament’s top goalscorer and leading Fantasy points-scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, has made light of tough opposition so far with four attacking returns in two matches against France and Germany.
While the Juventus forward may be a ‘keep’ for a lot of us, the majority of Fantasy managers will surely swerve a treble-up on Portugal assets given the tricky route they have to forge through the knockout stages: six goals conceded in those aforementioned Group F games, the joint-most of any team in Matchdays 2 and 3, isn’t a great advert for their defence.
Belgium have the same pathway as Portugal through to mid-July’s final at Wembley but, unlike Santos’s troops, haven’t really faced anyone of note so far.
It’s difficult to assess whether this vaunted golden generation merit their world number one tag, given their record to date: they won all three of their group matches but were under the cosh against Denmark and took 74 minutes to break down Finland, even if they were already qualified when the latter match took place.
Much like Portugal, the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne remain modestly attractive picks in isolation but their defence has looked shaky and are perhaps best swerved from this point onwards.
Austria, Switzerland and Croatia look like teams to avoid with these unlimited Fantasy transfers, as even if they manage to exceed expectations and progress to the last eight, yet another tough country awaits.
BEST CHANCE OF EARLY TEAM NEWS
While FanTeam managers have to get their teams submitted 90 minutes before the first game of a Matchday, those playing the official EURO 2020 game get to see the teamsheets and tinker with their squads right up until kick-off.
The first Matchday ties in each round will be as follows:
|Round of 16||Wales v Denmark|
|Quarter-finals||France/Switzerland v Spain/Croatia|
|Semi-finals||France/Switzerland/Spain/Croatia v Belgium/Portugal/Italy/Austria|
So while we Fantasy managers could benefit from seeing the France team news twice over between now and the semi-finals, we’ll be going in blind with the likes of the Netherlands and England – so any potential ‘rotation risks’ are perhaps best left avoided.
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Source : www.fantasyfootballscout.co.uk – https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fantasyfootballscout.co.uk%2F2021%2F06%2F24%2Feuro-2020-fantasy-strategy-targeting-the-players-with-the-easiest-fixtures-ahead%2F