One week to go until the Euro 2016 party kicks off and still time to make the odd couple hundred changes to your Euro 2016 fantasy squad.
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As with last week the pre season friendlies have influenced my latest version. I had my doubts about the french defending when Raphael Varane picked up an injury. It will rule him out the group stages at least and lowered my thoughts France chances of clean sheets. Now the brace of goals conceded against Cameroon has added to my concern. Finally Romania's style will make game one tricky if the french cannot get ahead early and boy is there pressure on the side. Hugo Lloris at 6m has his place in my squad under danger and it is currently lost for the first time since the game went live.
Next problem brings me to my home nation England and the Deli Alli/Harry Kane picks I held with 2 weeks to go. The return to the England starting of Wayne Rooney has as feared caused an immediate problem to manager Roy Hodgson. There are many fans that think Wayne's role could and should be from the bench. Those who think that way have had more evidence from the friendly against Portugal.
Roy's plan to pick an attacking England saw them play 42 with a midfield diamond. At first glance this was a system that can suit the attacking players in Rooney, Kane, Vardy and Alli. Unfortunately it didn't work out that well.
Jamie Vardy and Kane were asked to protect the wide areas defensively. As a result they spent more time as wingers than forwards. Rooney found himself at time the furthest forward of the players, a position he now struggles to be at his best. Alli who had been fantastic at Spurs playing the no10 role found himself deeper in the new England formation and his impact was reduced.
I'm thinking as the formation was so clearly a problem, Roy won't stick to it against Russia. But he will stick with his captain as we saw in the 2014 World Cup, Rooney always plays even when its not working out and even if the fans call for him to be benched. So the question is who makes way for him. My guess is England return to Raheem Sterling who got his 3rd assist in 3 games when coming off the bench against Portugal. Milner/Lallana may battle it out to play the wide right role.
From a fantasy view this has taken the shine off my Kane/Alli picks in my squad. Alli is priced nice enough at 6.5m that his risk/reward still seems just about right. Kane though is the biggest call. He was surprisingly the first name in my team telling you how strong a pick at his price I thought he was. Rooney's return has stolen penalties from him and it seems reduced the number of chances he may get in a game.
While we know that regardless of qualification and the players they have, England tend to let their fans down. We also know that when it comes to international tournament football the Germans don't often do the same thing. With a further defeat this week the number of people publicly questioning them has risen but nobody can utter those words they won't win it".
I have held Toni Kroos since my first draft and still feel he offers the best balance between returns and cost. I have also held Tomas Muller since my first draft but have swapped him out today.
As it stands I have the following
Juanfran, Darmian, Ajeti, Hector, Koscielny
Kroos, Alaba, Matuidi, Alli Rafa Silva
Morata, Lewandowski, Ronaldo,
I know we need a balanced side to suit the Mcdonald's game and holding defenders from Spain, Portugal, Germany and Italy should get me a clean sheet somewhere. Ajeti isn't expected to start so I may need to find a solution there as I want 15 possible players to pick from.
In midfield I'm least happy. It isn't bad but I'm not sure I have assist/goals scorers who will get more than one in the the 3 group games.
Up front I really like but don't completely love my trio. With the golden boot often going to outside bets I want to have a gamble with one of them but I'm unsure which of the big two in particular I should drop. Ronaldo may not look 100% and his injury niggles concern me. However, his group should offer him chances in all the games. . Lewy is a player I really like although being in the same group as Germany makes him expensive. I really like the Croatian team so Mario Mandzukic is someone I'm considering. Finally I could still bring Muller back as well.
It's finding those low price players who can come up with a goal, assist or clean sheet that often the secret. A little more research is needed in this area. Like many of you even after playing fantasy football for years I also get caught up rating players on them as real world players rather than fantasy assets.
Normal practice for me will be to return to the players I have had in and out since launch, those being Kane, Muller, Alba, Kroos, Griezmann, Lloris and Alli. Most of them will be in the end team and as always there will be a last minute bright idea next Friday evening UK time.
How is your side looking? What are the decisions you just cannot stick to one answer on?