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Euro 2016 Group A: Player Picks

While the Premier League Fantasy game is done, well almost done. Its time to look ahead to the Euros.

Group favourites and fully of fantay options
Group favourites and fully of fantay options
Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Let's start off our Euro 2016 coverage with a look a Group A






Many people's tip to win the competition (including Thierry Henry), the French squad has a great mix of experience and youth and comes into the competition with some of their players having had excellent seasons at club level.

After being drawn in a very favourable group the side will also be carried by a highly emotional support after the horrific Paris attacks in 2015.  It is possible could be all too much for the players to handle but does seem more likely to act as a motivation and a solidifying effect between players and fans.  Home advantage is nearly always is a big advantage to have and the French has won two of the three post war competitions held at home the 1984 Euro's and the 1998 World Cup.

The side have also had an uncommonly calm pre-tournament period.  When you consider a sex-tape scandal involving Karim Benzema is the only blot on their record it tells you what the French players/managers can often be dealing with coming into competition.

Two of the three group games will see opponents who still deep and in high numbers looking to frustrate.  These tactics are very long in the tooth but historically tactics that work well when playing France.  The game against the Swiss (the 2nd game in the group) will be very open and offers opportunity for the attacking players to shine.

As hosts there is no form line to judge with firm opinion but they will be expected to top the group and from a fantasy view offer high chances of clean sheets and goals.

France play a set 433 formation after experiments with other formations provided poor results and performances.  Only four players are certain to start if fit, Lloris, Matuidi, Pogba and Griezmann.


For those of you old enough to have enjoyed watching the Gheorge Hagi inspired Romanian team from the 1990's this side has none of that flair and excitement.  They are a side lacking stars hence look to defend in numbers and counter.  Romania still fancy their chances though and expect qualification into the knockout rounds although it could be as a 3rd place qualifier.


The competitions whipping boys perhaps but maybe like many people we are just underestimating them.  Manager Giani De Biasi has done an amazing job to get them here and is loved by the Albanian people.

The young side are extremely well organised and have achieved some incredible results in the last couple years.  Albania beat Portugal 1-0, drew with France in Paris 1-1 and even beat France in Albania 1-0.  Those results show you they are more capable than ever of causing an upset and as the side come into the Euro's with no pressure just a free role.


The Swiss have failed to kick on from their 2014 World Cup success and are a side as of yet not kicking on.  Part of this can be linked to top players failing to get enough club playing time with Captain Gokhan Inler of Leicester City the best example.  The move from Napoli seemed sure to see him play plenty of the 20015/16 season but the form of rivals Kante/Danny Drinkwater and the lack of suspension/injuries to the duo has seen him benched out of the season.

Considered a dangerous rival to England when the qualification draw was made they were well beaten by Roy Hodgson's young lions.  The side play a high line with the focus being winning the ball in the opponent's half.  It's fun to watch but leaves them wide open for side with fast counters.

Expectation will be qualification as runners up but the opening game against Albania is both a must win and banana skin at the same time.

Group player picks

Hugo Lloris -6m

Well known to us all from his success at Tottenham, Lloris is now firmly in his prime.  Assuming France win their opening two games he seems the most likely player not to get a rest in game 3.   A couple of clean sheets in the group stages can be expected.

Raphael Varane - 6.5m or Laurent Koscielny - 6m

The two most likely starting central defenders with Mamadou Sakho now out.  Considering I often consider Koscielny a danger at set pieces it's a surprise he has never scored for France in 27 games.  Varane has 2 goals in his 28.

Razvan Rat - 5.5m

The fantastically named Romanian left back has played 108 time for his country.  At 35 this will be his last competition

Elseid Hysaj - 4.5m

The Albanian attacking right back plays his club football for Napoli.  At 22 has already played 18 times for his country and will be closely watched this summer.

Ricardo Rodriguez - 6m

Was a great selection for fantasy players in the 2014 World Cup for the Swiss and even better in the Champions League for Wolfsburg.  A real potential assist provider with constant supply of crosses and runs from deep.  Also a free kick specialist so it's a surprise to see he has yet to score for his country.

Stephan Lichtsteiner - 5.5m

Well if one bombing Swiss full back doesn't get you the other just may.  Lichtsteiner at 32 is still in his prime and has been impressive for Juventus in recent seasons.  5 goals in 80 for Switzerland suggests you could profit from attacking returns in the group stage.

Paul Pogba - 8.5m

Already a complete box to box midfield player at just 23 years of age.  He has 5 goals in his 29 international games but it is worth pointing out has a slightly below par season for Juventus this season.  Seems almost certain to be Barcelona bound within the next year and is one of a number of young players who could be considered the best in the game over the next few seasons.

Blaise Matuidi - 7m

Perhaps you may not be too aware of him but Matuidi has been acknowledged as the best midfield player in Ligue 1.   A complete player who both provides end product in both end of the pitch.  While Pogba give the steel and control within central midfield, Matuidi provide the flair and creativity.  He has 7 goals in 42 games and is perhaps a better fantasy option than Pogba right now.

Dimitri Payet - 8m

We can't have a player picks post without Mr Payet.  Not nailed on to start for France showing you the depth their squad has but his form in 2015/16 for West Ham United should see him get the nod.  2 goals in 17 starts and free kick specialists are always tempting in fantasy games.

Kingsley Coman - 6.5m

The next big thing for France, Coman has already played for Juventus, PSG and Bayern Munich.  Will play a sub role in the opening two games but may start game 3.  Brilliant talent and match changer from the bench.

Odise Roshi - 5m

Roshi is the fast right sided winger who will be a key to the Albanian attacks.  His partnership with Hysaj and the full backs over lapping runs will mean the duo will be at the heart to Albania's counter attack plan.

Granit Xhaka - 7m

At 23 he seem primed to join one our europe's big names with Arsenal being linked in a £35m deal.  He has a great season at Borussia M'gladbach and sets the tone of the Swiss play.

Antoine Griezmann - 10m

Just one more young french player that could soon be considered one of the best in the word.  7 goals in 26 for France but has had consistent goal scoring seasons for Atletico Madrid.  A move to one of the games giants beckons, possibly post Euro 2016.  Exciting player and big favourite with the crowd.

Oliver Giroud/Andre-Pierre Gignac

The non selection of Benzema has opened out the forward position for France.  While many preview will state Giroud is 1st choice and despite his last day Aston Villa hatty he isn't for sure.

The battle will be between him and Gignac.  Giroud does have the support of the French management but doesn't have anywhere near as much support from the home crowd.  The best example was in a September friendly with Serbia when after missing a sequence of chances he was jeered off the pitch after an hours play.  If he does start the Romania game he will need to have an impact or face pressure from the fans again.

Gignac offers a less high profile option but it may be the case he works better with the support players.  We saw in 1998 that you don't necessarily need a star number 9.  We saw in 1998 that you don't necessarily need a star number 9 if you have a forward who can work with and supplement the other attacking players.   Stéphane Guivarc'h performed this role in 98 and it may be that Gignac can do the role in the Euro's.

Nicolae Stanciu 6.5m

The 23 year old holds the hopes for the Romania's attack.  Scored on his debut and despite playing just twice for his country looks a very likely starter for the opening game against France.  In 20 league games for Steaua Bucharest this season he has 9 goals and 6 assists and any sign of potential will see his club facing offers post the Euro's.  Perhaps a dark horse pick.

Xherdan Shaqiri - 8m

We have had plenty of chance to enjoy the tricks and power of Shaq since his summer move to Stoke City.  On his day brilliant and at 24 nearing the time to become a more consistent player.  17 goals in 51 games tells us he can provide points and in a group where he will have plenty of the ball in 2 of the 3 games.

At 8m he is pricy but I think that reflects his potential on paper facing Albania/Romania and France in the final game when they will already be through to the knockout stages.

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Any players take your fancy?