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A Guide to Fantasy Euro 2020: The Basics, Plus Tips and Tricks

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How-tos for the fantasy Euros game, plus an exclusive Ease of Fixture (EOF) analysis!

Portugal v Netherlands - UEFA Nations League Final Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

With the conclusion of the Champions League and the Premier League, days usually get slower for Fantasy managers and NMA writers until the start of the next EPL season. Fear not! The fantasy Euro 2020 is just under two weeks away, so it’s time to build the perfect starting teams. Let’s jump in!


Basic rules

For those who have played UCL fantasy, it’s the same: Build a squad of 15 having 2 keepers, 5 defenders, 5 midfielders, and 3 forwards. Unlike FPL, we can manually sub starters off for players from the bench in the provided substitution windows between days within a “matchday”. Hence, building a balanced squad with a good bench is very important. To know more about the timing of the substitution windows, and arrangements of fixture sets check out the official Euro2020 Website.


Captaincy

In Euro fantasy, we can switch captaincy each day within the substitution window. For example: In the Turkey vs Italy game, say Insigne is your captain and he blanks, earning just 2x2=4 points. After the last match on that date, there’ll be a substitution window until the first match on the next calendar day. In that time we can move the armband from Insigne to another player who has not yet played his match.

Insigne’s points will cease to be doubled, decreasing from 4 to 2. So switch captains only if you think one of your later players will out-point him.

Ideally, you should pick your team so that you can have a viable captain option on each day within a given “matchday” set of fixtures, thus offering maximum rolls of the dice to hit a high captain score. For example, MD-1 stretches out over five calendar days. You might consider sticking with your Day 1 captain if he scores 8 or more, your Day 2 captain if he scores 7 more, your Day 3 captain if he scores 6 or more, and your Day 4 captain if he scores 5 or more.


Points

Here is the points scheme lifted directly from UEFA’s fantasy Euro 2020 site. Fantasy managers who have played the official Champions League and Premier League games will generally find it pretty familiar.

One difference from FPL is that a player who wins a penalty kick is awarded two points, while a player who concedes a PK is penalized one point (earning a penalty wins a player an assist in FPL if the PK is converted). The Euro game also awards an additional point for a goal scored from outside the box, a wrinkle that adds value to attacking midfielders compared to forwards. But the most important deviation from FPL is that there is no bonus-point system in the Euros game. This further weakens the importance of forwards in the Euros game, since the FPL bonus system is so heavily biased towards forwards.

There is a critical difference from the UCL fantasy game as well. In fantasy UCL, all outfield players receive 1 point per 3 balls recovered. Players that make a high number of ball recoveries have proven to be attractive assets in that platform. However, the Euros game does not reward ball recoveries, a fact that dampens the return potential of defenders and defensive midfielders in this game.

To read more about the fantasy Euros points system, check out the rules article on the official Euro 2020 fantasy website.


Fixture Analysis

It’s always favorable to own players who have easy fixtures, especially in Euro fantasy. Since we need a captain for each calendar day, knowing the team with the easiest fixture each day will inform our decisions. Knowledge of fixture difficulty will also guide us in choosing defenders and keepers who can keep clean sheets. The Ease of Fixture (EOF) analysis is a perfect tool to estimate the “easiness” of a fixture.

EOF is calculated using FIFA world ranks in this formula:

EOF = Opponent_Rank - PlayerTeam_Rank

For example, let’s look at the first game of Euro 2020, Turkey vs Italy. According to FIFA world rankings, Italy is ranked #7 and Turkey is ranked #29.

EOF for Italy = 29 - 7 = 22

EOF for Turkey = 7 - 29 = -22

In simple terms, the more positive the EOF, the easier the fixture. EOF data for all 24 teams across all three of the group stage matchdays have been plotted below. “Set” in each graph refers to the calendar-day fixtures before a substitution window. For example, MD 1 set 1 means the set of fixtures before the substitution window 1 of MD-1.


Transfers

In the group stages after MD-1, we are allowed to make two free transfers; 4 points will be deducted for every additional transfer. For example, if I make 4 transfers, the first two transfers made will be free, and then I’ll suffer a -8 hit for the additional two.

Before the round of 16 deadline, managers will be allowed unlimited free transfers. Then during the transfer windows of the round of 16 and the quarterfinals, the number of free transfers will be increased to 3.

For the semifinals and the finals, it’ll further be increased to 5 transfers. The salary budget of 100 million in the group stages will be increased to 105 million before the round of 16 and then remain the same for the rest of the tournament.


Chips & Strategies

Limitless

Limitless is to Euro fantasy managers what a fairy godmother is to Cinderella. When you play your limitless chip, you can make unlimited free transfers and ignore the budget cap! It’s similar to the Free-hit chip in FPL, but it also removes the budget cap. You can build the team of your dreams, but it’s only for the one matchday (round). When the next matchday’s transfer window opens, your team will revert to what it was at the end of the matchday before the limitless chip.

Tip: Using limitless in the group stages is “super-necessary” as Jorge Masvidal would say. Group stages are the best way to get ahead of the pack. Once the knockout stages arrive, the pool of fantasy players begins to narrow and fantasy squads begin to look more and more alike. Consequently, the potential for a massive surge in rank becomes lower and I’ve realized this playing UCL Fantasy. You also don’t want your team to revert back to a bunch of players eliminated by two rounds of knockout results.

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Wildcard

The wildcard chip in Euro fantasy is the same as that in FPL: It allows you to make unlimited free transfers before a matchday. Unlike the limitless chip, the wildcard has a budget cap and the transfers don’t revert.

Tip: Saving the wildcard chip for the quarterfinals could be a smart move. But I’m not totally against using it in the group stages, especially if many of your players get injured. Group stages are the most important part of fantasy Euro and attacking the group stages is always a good idea. Using the wild card chip in the semifinals or finals could buy you little as the number of free transfers is already 5; you shouldn’t need much more.


Closing thoughts

Captaincy (and its day-by-day management) is the most important aspect of this format. Picking at least one playing captain from each calendar day of the “match day” is a powerful method for constructing your team. Owning players with easier fixtures will increase the probability of getting a high score too, of course. Likewise, be sure to choose keepers who play on different days so you can start the early one and have the latter as a potential sub. Ideally, you want each sub on your bench to play on a calendar day later than all your starters at the same position.

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The NMA mini-league is now live with well over 300 members already! See here for detailed instructions on how to create a team and join the league. Or, if you already have a team, just use the league code 95SBPFJO07 to join us. Be sure to check it out. NMA will be covering the entire Euro 2020 and my colleagues will be previewing individual groups in detail in the coming days.

Exciting content coming up, watch this space! Cheers!

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What tips or tricks did I leave out? What is your chip strategy? Who are the must-have stars for MD-1? Who’ll have a breakthrough tournament? Which team are you backing to win the Euro 2020? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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