We have two off-days for us to discuss, contemplate and (as usual) remove players with high potential only to regret it later on! The last day of MD-3 was Wednesday June 23 finalizing groups E & F. The knockout stage begins Saturday June 26 with the Round of 16 spanning four days with two matches per day. These are scheduled in the 17:00 and 20:00 GMT time slots, a decision applauded by most players and coaches who complained about midday heat in the group stage.
Wembley stadium will host two matches this round. The others are scattered around Europe. Puskas Arena attendance in Budapest has been the most positive highlight with approximately 60,000 fans cheering for Hungary, which was clearly reflected in their gutsy performances.
Round of 16 fantasy selections must go through at least the following criteria:
- Viable captain for each calendar day (Essential)
- Player form (Major)
- Fixture difficulty (Major)
- Path to final (Medium unless you hold your wildcard chip)
- Travel time / resting time on MD-3 (Minor)
Path to the final
Important notes to consider before diving into the player picks:
- Maximum players from each nation is now four. This increases by one after each elimination round. A maximum eight can be selected from each nation in the final.
- The number of free transfers before the QF will be three; before the SF and final it will be five.
G. Donnarumma: After three matches, Italy is one of two teams yet to concede in this tournament. The goalkeeper himself is in high spirits with PSG contract talks seemingly finalized pending a medical test. Italy was not severely tested in their group, and their tie against Austria should be straight forward. The road then becomes rockier in the QF.
Hugo Lloris: Tottenham’s French shot-stopper conceded one of the strangest penalties of all time when he punched Danilo in France’s 2-2 draw with Portugal to seal the first place in Group F. France will play Switzerland as one of the easier ties in the Round of 16, and the world champions should pass through comfortably, possibly with a clean sheet.
Other GK picks: Schmeichel and Simon considering neither Wales nor Croatia did well when forced to defend for a full 90 minutes as Denmark and Spain have the quality to do.
However, be sure your 2nd keeper plays on a different day than your 1st! (e.g. Do NOT pick Schmeichel if you start Donnarumma; both play on Saturday!) If cash strapped and trusting Italy, Stekelenburg at £4.7M may be the budget 2nd keeper for you.
Leonardo Spinazzola: High potentials for both clean sheet and assists make him a must-have. His opposition Stefan Laimer is strong with long pass accuracy, but Spinazolla should be able to outdo him in all other areas.
Denzel Dumfries: Astonishing performances, amazing form and a great pick overall. Netherlands may not hold a clean sheet against the Czech Republic, but the Oranje right-back can compensate with assists or maybe even goals.
Victor Lindelof: The Man United center-back is underrated in fantasy because he plays in the center of defense. But Sweden managed two clean sheets in the group stage, one against Spain.
Jordi Alba: The Barcelona left back continues to impress showcasing the extraordinary stamina that characterizes the entirety of the Spanish side. He topped his performance with an assist in the 5-0 thrashing of Slovakia in MD-3.
Robin Gosens / John Stones: They play against each other in the Round of 16. England is one of the two teams to keep three clean sheets, but Gosens has the higher ceiling. Honestly, if England parks the bus and depends on the historic long ball strategy to a target man, then this match is destined for penalty shootout making Stones the better pick (more stamina is demanded of Gosens). However, if England switches to attacking football, then Germany’s strengths will appear in its wings to create chances. Take your pick depending on how you see the match playing out.
Emil Forsberg: The Swedish left-winger is in form and on PKs with three goals scored so far. Sweden is favored against Ukraine, so likely to advance to the quarterfinals. Priced at £7.7M, he’s a strong pick.
Georginio Wijnaldum: Wijnaldum also scored three goals in the group stage, and there is no sign that he will stop anytime soon. The Netherlands is one of the best-positioned teams to reach the semi-finals, so fantasy managers should maximize four players (and wish for more).
Pablo Sarabia: At the low price of £6.5m for a midfielder, Sarabia is a strong pick for Spain against Croatia. I would personally like to see Llorente in his position, but the La Liga champion was given the right-back role limiting his potential. Some may argue that Sarabia only played the third match, so he might not start again, but I believe his fighting spirit is what the Spanish outfit needs.
Nicolo Barella: The Serie A champion and Inter Milan midfielder was rested in the last match against Wales, but he’s going to take back his spot to face Austria. He is the main playmaker at the heart of the Italian side. However, I advise against having more than two or three Italian players this round so you can transfer them out before the expected match up against Portugal or Belgium.
Kevin De Bruyne: The Man City playmaker is arguably the best midfielder in the world, but he is expensive and Belgium’s path to the final is filled with difficult obstacles; he faces high mountains to climb. Picking any Belgian means high risk every step of the way.
Memphis Depay: With two goals and two assists in group play, he might finally be living up to his potential on the national team level. The Czech Republic plays balanced football, so Depay is an obvious pick for this round until the semifinals.
Karim Benzema/Kilyan Mbappe: Playing against Switzerland is expected to be an easy win for the French. I would not be surprised if Didier Deschamps decides to rest a couple of his players. Benzema is £2M cheaper than Mbappe and returned more points in the group stage.
Cristiano Ronaldo: On PKs, CR7 is the only player to score in all three matches. He’s a fixture-proof player who can turn the tide in a second. There is no denying Ronaldo’s value when it comes to points returns, but picking him is both expensive and comes at the risk of elimination against Belgium.
The £105M+ Limit
Yes, £105M, plus. Firstly, we have each been gifted £5M euros to begin the knockout stages, probably because most starting players who played well enough to survive have all gained £0.1M or £0.2M in price. Across 15 players, that’s £5M+. You’re welcome!
In addition (or subtraction), when you sell a player whose price has changed, it seems that you capture his full current price. So if your player has risen from £5M to £5.2M, you have earned a £0.2M dividend. What this all means is that YMMV.
Picking the ideal player at each position works well if you use the limitless chip, but since the number of free transfers is infinite before the round of 16, nobody should be doing that now. The team above actually costs £105.9M, so compromises must be made.
Replacing Ronaldo with Yaremchuk and Sarabia with Hojbjerg is enough to bring down the team cost to an exact £100M while still having a viable captain for each day:
Assume that four Netherlands players and four French players are must-haves, and one needs a strong captain option each day:
This is not a reveal of my team but this is what I have so far. Since I have the wildcard yet to play, my team selection is considering the round of 16 and quarterfinals only. I plan to play my wildcard before the semifinals:
Needless to say, personal gut feeling is also an indicator when deciding which players make up your squad in a given round. The deadline will be after the line-up announcement of Wales vs Denmark, which may not be of much help to anyone, but I may bring in Maehle from Denmark to replace Gosens.
Portugal qualified from the group of death to find itself part of the round of 16 quarter of death. Who will qualify to the semifinals from the quarter death?
This poll is closed
So how did the price changes affect your team? Who’s on your shopping list? Did you add any from my picks above? And did I miss a sitter, so to speak? Where do you see maximum reward? Where do you see risk? Please share your thoughts and feel free to ask questions in the comments!