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Fantasy Euro 2020: A Tactical Analysis of Each Team

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Some teams win 1-0 with rock solid defense. Others win by attack or lose by attacking. Let’s run the rule over our 24 nations to suss out where we should shop for defenders and attackers (and which minnows are invitingly “open”!)

Manager outlines tactics to his players before an international match
Know your strategy & tactics!
Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Step inside for a fantasy-focused tactical perspective on all 24 teams in the Euro 2020 tournament.


Group A

Italy

Italy Training Session and Press Conference - UEFA Euro 2020: Group A Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Playstyle: Direct, Wide build-up.

Strength: Solid defense leading to serial goal-poaching

Weakness: Space behind fullbacks.

Joker: Italy plays the opening match, so we see a confirmed lineup about an hour before our deadline.

Best fantasy options: Leonardo Spinazzola (DEF), Domenico Berardi (MID), Ciro Immobile (FWD).

Italy has seven consecutive clean sheets coming in. This is the best form the Italians have been in before a major tournament for the past decade, so they could enjoy a deep run in this year’s Euros. Italy plays a direct style of football with left-back Spinazzola being their best-attacking threat from among their defenders.

Unlike previous Azzuri sides, this team is not the one to sit back and defend a 1-0 lead. On the contrary — they aggressively blow away opponents regularly, as we saw in San Marino’s case, making them excellent attacking fantasy assets. If one was to nitpick, the attacking adventures of the full-backs might leave behind gaps that opponents can exploit, but... seven consecutive clean sheets.

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Switzerland

Switzerland v United States - International Friendly Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Playstyle: Direct, with a focus on crosses into the box.

Strength: Defensive resilience

Weakness: Inconsistency in the attack.

Best fantasy options: Ricardo Rodriguez (DEF), Xherdan Shaqiri (MID)

Switzerland is a team that will be hard to break down this tournament. Having conceded only six goals in eight games in the Euro 2020 qualifiers, Switzerland’s defensive solidity makes their defenders good prospects. In attack, they depend on crosses into the box from wide areas, which makes the penalty-taking fullback Rodriguez an interesting option. Fluid goalscoring isn’t the Rossocrociatis’ forte, making their forwards less attractive fantasy options.

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Turkey

Turkey Training Session Photo by Nico Paetzel/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Playstyle: Counterattack

Strength: Clinical finishing

Weakness: Tend to leak goals

Best fantasy options: Burak Yilmaz (FWD), Ozan Tufan (MID).

Şenol Güneş’s innovative 4-1-4-1 has worked out wonderfully for the Turks so far. Against stronger opposition, they sit back and hit fast on the break; against opponents that defend deep, the Crescent Stars tend to press high and hunt for goals, which makes Burak Yilmaz an exciting fantasy asset to own. Their bad habit of leaking goals could lead to their downfall, especially against the top-ranked teams (opportunity for opposing attackers).

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Wales

Wales Training - UEFA Euro 2020: Group A Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Playstyle: Direct, with a focus on sharp, incisive passing

Strength: Fast attackers

Weakness: Squad depth

Best fantasy options: Gareth Bale (MID), Daniel James (MID)

Wales’ attacking tactics have evolved from a direct, compact style in previous years to a less compact, sharp, passing-based football this year. With false-nine Harry Wilson dropping back and Gareth Bale cutting in, Dan James tends to bomb forward, making him an interesting fantasy option, especially being categorized as a midfielder in the game. Wales’ defensive weaknesses and lack of squad depth could mean they will not be as successful as they were in 2016.

Check out Tifo’s tactical preview of Group A for more details.


Group B

Belgium

Belgium v Croatia - International Friendly Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Playstyle: Direct style of football, building up from wide areas.

Strength: Firepower upfront, supported by a brilliant midfield

Weakness: Aging center-backs.

Best fantasy options: Lukaku (FWD), De Bruyne (MID), Meunier (DEF), Denayer (DEF)

Belgium’s 3-4-3 is very similar to Switzerland’s setup, the only difference being their lesser dependence on crosses. Roberto Martinez’s men use width to build-up play and exploit the spaces in the middle to play sharp passes to their striker. Their aging center-backs and the space behind fullbacks make their defense a potential liability against teams with the endurance and/or speed to exploit them.

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Denmark

Denmark vs Bosnia-Herzegovina - Test Match Photo by Jan Christensen / FrontzoneSport via Getty Images

Playstyle: Compact.

Strength: Defensive robustness.

Weakness: Lack of creative players after Eriksen.

Best fantasy options: Christian Eriksen (MID), Simon Kjaer (DEF).

Denmark’s 4-2-3-1 is a well-established system with center backs given the responsibility to supply balls to the creative Christian Eriksen. Kasper Hjulmand’s men are tough to break down defensively as they sit deep. The over-reliance on their center-backs’ creativity to move the ball forward could result in goals drying up if the passing lanes are cut out effectively.

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Finland

FBL-EURO-2020-2021-FIN-TRAINING Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images

Playstyle: High pressing.

Strength: Creative wingers on both the flanks.

Weakness: Tend to leak goals.

Best fantasy options: Lukáš Hrádecký (GK), Teemu Pukki (FWD)

Having qualified for the Euros for the first time, Markku Kanerva’s men are inexperienced campaigners on this stage. Their aggressive pressing style and attacking wide players could mean they score a lot of goals against mediocre defenses, but their adventurous pressing system makes them vulnerable against superior foes, making them a nice team to target. So why is Hrádecký a prospect at keeper? Because he’s the cheapest starting keeper/enabler in the fantasy game, and he might rack up enough saves to keep his head above water. Then again, he might not; YMMV.

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Russia

Hungary v Russia - UEFA Nations League Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images

Playstyle: Direct, with a focus on crosses into the box.

Strength: Aerial threat

Weakness: Inability to grind out results

Best fantasy options: Artem Dzyuba (FWD), Aleksandr Golovin (MID)

The 2018 World Cup’s surprise package Russia has had a mixed couple of years since their at-home heroics. Although they have done well to qualify for the Euros, recent losses to Turkey and Serbia haven’t filled fans with confidence. Russia’s flexible 4-2-3-1, with Golovin taking up a free role behind Dzyuba, sets them up to move forward. When the goals don’t come, the Russians struggle because they tend not to keep any clean sheets.

Check out Tifo’s tactical preview of Group B for more details.


Group C

Austria

FBL-EUR-NATIONS-NOR-AUT Photo by TERJE PEDERSEN/NTB Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

Playstyle: Gegenpressing

Strength: Technical prowess in midfield

Weakness: Defensively inconsistent

Best Fantasy options: David Alaba (MID), Marcel Sabitzer (MID).

Austria’s 3-5-2 system is built around the technical ability of midfielders to make line-breaking passes to open up the opposition. With fullbacks David Alaba and Stefan Lainer tucking in and Sabitzer dropping deep, Austria’s midfield is one of the best in the tournament. Their high-pressing game decreases their clean sheet potential, especially against incisive opponents.

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Netherlands

EURO 2020”Training session Dutch national team” Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images

Playstyle: Tiki Taka, with a patient build-up in the midfield

Strength: Set pieces

Weakness: Crosses

Best Fantasy options: Memphis Depay (FWD), Georginio Wijnaldum (MID)

Frank de Boer has consistently fielded a 4-2-3-1 formation until recently, where he went with a back five. Typically, the Dutch rely on quick passing and movement to build their attacks. The Oranjes also have a decent set-piece threat with Wijnaldum, De Ligt, and Luuk de Jong all excellent in the air. They often get caught with fast counter-attacks and show weakness when defending crosses into the box.

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North Macedonia

Germany v North Macedonia - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Playstyle: Gegen pressing

Strength: Excellent attacking wing-backs

Weakness: Squad depth

Best Fantasy options: Elif Elmas (MID), Ezgjan Alioski (DEF)

Like Finland, this is North Macedonia’s first-ever Euros. On paper, they are the worst team in the tournament with a FIFA rank of #62. But the Macedonians can beat any team on their day as we saw against Germany. Igor Angelovski’s attacking build-up is structured around Elif Elmas who is the team’s best creative outlet. They tend to do well against opponents who play out from the back, with Pandev and Trajkovski being efficient pressers. Against top-quality opponents, the Macedonians are expected to sit back and hit on the break. Hence, they might not be as easy to break down as one might think.

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Ukraine

Ukraine v Cyprus - International Friendly Photo by Stanislav Vedmid/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Playstyle: Possession football, with a focus on quick attacking transitions

Strength: Excellent Midfield

Weakness: Lack of fluid goal scorers

Best Fantasy options: Oleksandr Zinchenko (DEF), Ruslan Malinovskyi (MID)

Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine generally plays a 4-3-3 formation with the team structured to suit the midfielders. The Ukrainians build their attacks in the center, playing incisive through-balls between the lines, to their striker and wingers. Malinovskyi and Zinchenko (surprisingly categorized as a defender in the fantasy game) are Ukraine’s main creative outlets. But the goals have dried up this year as they have failed to score more than once since their 2-1 win against Switzerland last November.

Check out Tifo’s tactical preview of Group C for more details.


Group D

Croatia

Belgium v Croatia -International Friendly Photo by Angelo Blankespoor/Soccrates/Getty Images

Playstyle: Medium tempo, possession-based football, with a focus on creating space for fast wingers to attack.

Strength: Pacy wingers

Weakness: Squad depth

Best Fantasy options: Luka Modric (MID), Borna Barisic (DEF).

Zlatko Dalic’s experienced Croatians have been a mixed bag this year. They play a 4-2-3-1 system built around Luka Modric, who is important both defensively and moving forward. Strong at the back, and pacy down both wings, Croatia will be a tough team to break down. The lack of squad depth behind the starting-11 is their main concern for the tournament.

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Czech Republic

Italy v Czech Republic - International Friendly Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Playstyle: Direct, with a focus on long balls to the target man

Strength: Aerial threat

Weakness: Long balls behind the backline

Best Fantasy options: Tomáš Souček(MID), Patrick Schick (FWD).

The Czech Republic is a compact, well-organized side that plays a direct brand of football with its 4-2-3-1 formation. The Czechs are reliant on long balls to open up the opposition, building their attack from there. Schick and Soucek pose excellent aerial threats so could be valuable fantasy assets. Defensively, they have a weakness in tracking runs behind their backline, something exploited by Italy in a recent “friendly” 4-0 drubbing.

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England

England Training Camp - Euro 2020 Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Playstyle: Counterattacking

Strength: Firepower upfront.

Weakness: Defending crosses

Best Fantasy options: Harry Kane (FWD), Mason Mount (MID), Phil Foden (MID)

Gareth Southgate is expected to use a 4-3-3 formation when full strength, Maguire and Stones starting as the CBs. Despite their brilliant attacking options, the England manager usually takes a conservative approach and has a defense-first mindset. Harry Kane and Mason Mount are England’s most reliable creative outlets, with Kane occasionally dropping back and making key passes as we saw him do for Tottenham in the Premier League. England’s fullbacks aren’t often granted a license to go forward, and their weakness in defending crosses when playing 4-3-3 could be the reason.

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Scotland

Luxembourg v Scotland - International Friendly Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

Playstyle: Direct, with the left side being the main part of attacking build-ups.

Strength: Excellent fullbacks

Weakness: Squad depth

Best Fantasy options: Andy Robertson (DEF), Che Adams (FWD)

Scotland has the potential to be the surprise package of the tournament. Playing their first major tournament of the 21st century, the Scots are a well-drilled side, expected to sit back when playing against the big teams. The majority of their attacks stem from the left side, Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney whipping in crosses. They fall short in the creativity department down the middle, which could mean a lack of goal threat, especially against the top sides.

Check out Tifo’s tactical preview of Group D for more details.


Group E

Poland

Poland Training Session - UEFA Euro 2020 - Group E Photo by Mateusz Slodkowski/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Playstyle: Direct style, built around the “target man”.

Strength: Firepower upfront

Weakness: Lack of pace in defense

Best Fantasy options: Robert Lewandoski (FWD) , Piotr Zieliński (MID)

Poland is drawn into a tricky group E with Paulo Sousa’s side not quite favorites to make it through comfortably. The Eagles play a 3-4-2-1 formation with Robert Lewandowski leading the line. The Polish team plays lots of quick through balls and long balls while building their attacks, staying compact while defending. Although their attack is excellent, they could fall short on the defensive side of the game due to the lack of pace in their backline.

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Slovakia

Austria v Slovakia - International Friendly Photo by Christian Hofer/Getty Images

Playstyle: Counterattacking, wide build-up

Strength: Defensive resilience, set pieces

Weakness: Lack of a dedicated goal scorer.

Best Fantasy options: Ondrej Duda (MID), Marek Hamšík (MID)

The Slovakians are the underdogs of Group E but are no pushovers. Štefan Tarkovič’s team is a well-oiled machine with Milan Skriniar at the heart of the defense. The Falcons like to draw teams into their half and hit on the break, and they’re very efficient in doing so. Duda and Napoli legend Hamsik are their best creative outlets. Because of their defensive reliance, they aren’t exactly the ideal team to supply attackers, but Slovakia is a good team to shop for clean sheets (and maybe not the minnow against which you want to load up attackers).

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Spain

Spain v Portugal -International Friendly Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Playstyle: Tiki-Taka, with a focus on creating space for the fast wingers to attack.

Strength: Perfect mix of young talent and experience

Weakness: Lack of an experienced dedicated striker.

Best Fantasy options: Pau Torres (DEF), Ferran Torres (MID)

Spain, the favorites of group E, had a smooth sailing through the Euro2020 qualifying campaign, winning 8 of 10 while scoring a handsome 25 goals. Ferran Torres’s meteoric rise has coincided with Spain’s resurgence after the tragic 2018 World Cup campaign. Luis Enrique’s men play 4-3-3 with Busquets or Rodri sitting at the base of the midfield three. There are rumors of a Covid outbreak inside the Spanish bubble, and Busquets looks likely to miss the opener against Sweden. Although Morata is coming off a good season for Juventus in Serie A, he seems not to always hit the mark for Spain, a weakness that could deflate Spain’s attack.

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Sweden

Sweden v Armenia - International Friendly Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Playstyle: Direct, with a focus on maintaining width.

Strength: Hard to score against

Weakness: Lack of attacking fullbacks

Best Fantasy options: Emil Forsberg (MID).

As in the qualifying campaign, Sweden is drawn into the same group as Spain who finished ahead of them in the qualifying campaign. Sweden will be happy to again finish 2nd behind Spain in a tough group. Sweden plays an old-school 4-4-2 formation with disciplined players all around. The likes of Kulusevski and Forsberg add a cutting edge to this Swedish team with their excellent dribbling abilities. The lack of attacking fullbacks will mean the attacking onus will fall upon the wide midfielders.

Check out Tifo’s tactical preview of Group E for more details.


Group F (“Group of Death”)

France

France Training Session Photo by John Berry/Getty Images

Playstyle: Quick transition with a focus on creating space for the wide players to attack.

Strength: Physicality and star quality.

Weakness: Space behind fullbacks

Best Fantasy options: Lucas Hernandez (DEF) , Kylian Mbappe (FWD)

The world champions are once again the favorites to win a tournament. Didier Deschamps employs a traditional 4-2-3-1 with a focus on creating 1v1 situations for his pacy wide attacking players. Playing behind the striker, Antoine Griezmann adds a touch of class to Les blues’ attack. Adding Benzema (still a doubt to start MD-1) to the squad could see Mbappe shifted the right side of the attack where he was clinical in the 2018 World cup. Interestingly, France is undefeated when the midfield pairing of Kante & Pogba have started together! This France squad is ideal in every aspect, but if one was to nit-pick, the attacking adventures of the left-back could cause troubles if the space left behind is exploited, an all too possible event in le Groupe de Mort.

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Germany

Germany Herzogenaurach Training Session Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Playstyle: Gegenpress

Strength: Pace of the front three

Weakness: Quick counterattacks

Best Fantasy option: Thomas Muller(FWD), Serge Gnabry(MID)

The Germans are looking to get back to where they were in 2014; a deep run in the Euros will boost their confidence ahead of the 2022 World Cup. Joachim Löw is expected to field a 4-3-3 with Muller sitting at the tip of a midfield trio in front of Kroos and Gündoğan. With a pacey Werner, Sane, and Gnabry front three, Germany could be very dangerous in counterattacks. Ironically, they’re prone to counterattacking teams themselves; Die Mannschaft has been too easily unlocked by balls behind their backline. Rudiger’s hot form and Mats Hummels’ return will boost their confidence ahead of their tough games in die Gruppe des Todes.

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Portugal

Portugal v Israel - International Friendly Football Match Photo by Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Playstyle: Counterattack

Strength: Firepower upfront, creativity in midfield

Weakness: Space behind fullbacks

Best Fantasy option: Cristiano Ronaldo (FWD), Bruno Fernandes (MID)

Portugal is a perfect mix of youth and experienced winners. Fernando Santos is expected to field a 4-3-3 formation with William Carvalho and either Danilo or Ruben Neves sitting behind the creative Bruno Fernandes. Although they are expected to press high and dominate possession against weaker sides (of which this group has only one!), they generally sit back and have a more conservative approach when playing top teams. Their threat on the counterattack is very high, featuring Bruno’s ability to play a key pass combining with Ronaldo’s clinical finishing ability. A common theme amongst teams having attacking fullbacks is the possibility of the space left behind to be exploited by teams that have the quality to execute fast attacking transitions after recovering possession. Such is Portugal, which could cost them in o Grupo de Morte.

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Hungary

Hungary v Cyprus - International Friendly Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images

Playstyle: Direct, with a focus on crosses into the box

Strength: Aerial threat

Weakness: Lack of creativity in midfield

Best Fantasy option: Roland Sallai (FWD).

A forgotten giant of international football and two-time World Cup finalist, Hungary will look to replicate their excellent group stage performance in Euro 2016 in which the Magyars topped their group to finish above Portugal and Iceland. They play a 3-5-2 formation with a direct attacking style. Marco Rossi’s men play with an old-school striking combo, Ádám Szalai playing as the target man and the creative Roland Sallai playing as a second striker. The supply to the strikers largely depends on the wingbacks who whip in crosses from wide positions. The over-dependence on wingbacks for creativity could lead to their attack being blunted if they decide to sit back against all the powerful opponents they’ll be facing in a Halál Csoportja.


The official possible line-up article for MD-1 is up on UEFA’s website, make sure to check it out before locking in your teams (but keep in mind they are only speculating, just like the rest of us).

PPQ’s Euros MD-1 Rate My Team article is live now, and be sure to read our player picks, tips, and tricks guide, as well as our profiles of Group A, Group B, Group C, Group D, Group E, and Group F. Please, join NMA’s mini-league too!

Then make a point to check out nevermanagealone.com regularly throughout the tournament. We’ll have player picks and rate-my-team articles, as well as a Live Chat post for each match-day. NMA has you covered for the entire Euro 2020 and more exciting content is coming up. Stay tuned!

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Which teams would you target for captaincy and clean sheets? Which teams face open opposition who offer splendiferous attacking points? Who are the dark horses for winning the tournament? Which big team will have their expected strengths snuffed by superior or strategically targeted opposition? Please let us know your thoughts and plans in the comments section below!

Cheers!

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