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Euro 2020 MD-1 Fantasy Player Picks

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Are Ronaldo and Lukaku essential?

Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal - Euro 2020 Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It’s here! The most awaited tournament of the year, Euro 2020, is less than two days away. It’s time to buck up and get our fantasy teams locked in. Here are some player picks for MD-1.

A key factor is your chip strategy. Chip strategy in turn depends on the fixture difficulty. Three common chip strategies are being talked about in this year’s fantasy Euro 2020:

A) Limitless in MD-2 + wildcard in quarterfinals

This strategy is one of the most popular ones used by fantasy managers if unsolicited Twitter fantasy drafts are anything to go by. There is a major fixture-difficulty swing from MD-1 to MD-2 as most of the teams having an easy MD-1 have a tough MD-2 and vice-versa.

So the likes of Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Austria, and Portugal have favorable fixtures in MD-1 and face tough opponents in MD-2. The opposite is true for France, Russia, Ukraine, England, and Croatia. Interestingly, big hitters Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, and Spain have favorable fixtures in both MD-1 and MD-3.

In conclusion, using limitless in MD-2 could evade the MD-2 difficulty swing and then reset your team to players well-positioned for MD-3.

Saving the wildcard for the quarterfinals is also reasonable; the number of free transfers following the Round of 16 is a measly three to handle the elimination of half of all players. In case of a shock result (e.g. England felled by Iceland in 2016), you could have seven or more holes to repair.

There are some disadvantages to using this strategy though. Using limitless in MD-2 will mean that your initial team building must focus on players that have easy fixtures in both MD-1 and MD-3. This will mean compromising your MD-1 team to intersect with MD-3 prospects, which could not only result in fewer points but also limit subbing flexibility. For example, Lewandoski (€11.5m- Poland) has an easy fixture in MD-1 and is the best captain on the 4th calendar day. But Poland has a tricky game against Sweden in MD-3 and hence he wouldn’t be a great pick if this strategy is employed.

This strategy could also suffer from rotation by any heavyweight team that wins both of its first two matches and sees a soft MD-3 match as a chance to rest key players. Your perfect setup for MD-3 could be foiled because your picks were too successful earlier. Add that to two rounds worth of injuries and suspensions, and your two free transfers might not be enough to patch a team reverted to its MD-1 selections. YMMV.

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B) Wildcard & limitless both in the group stage

This is an aggressive strategy that could be used by managers who want to attack the group stages to the fullest. Using this strategy is another way to tackle the aforementioned fixture swing. The main advantage of this strategy is that the MD-1 team will not be compromised. Alongside players from teams like Denmark, Belgium, Italy, players from teams that have an easy fixture only in MD1 such as Portugal, Poland and Austria would become viable options when this strategy is used. Playing with this strategy could backfire in the future if not used accurately, as a series of shock results and the lack of wildcard for the quarters could end up weakening the squad for the rest of the tournament.

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C) Limitless in MD-3 + wildcard in quarterfinals.

This is the least talked about strategy in the fantasy community because of how difficult it is to build a squad for MD-1 that can pivot to MD-2 with just 2 free transfers. Perhaps you follow this strategy if you think you can pick players who are “match proof”.

Otherwise, the difficulty swing is a big concern. In MD-2, France, Russia, Ukraine, England, Croatia, and Spain are the teams that have the easiest fixtures. In contrast to this, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Austria, Poland, Spain, and Portugal have the easiest fixtures in MD1. So, if this strategy is to be used, one would load up on Spanish players and hope that the players with the difficult fixtures can outperform players with easier fixtures in one of the matchdays, which is unlikely to happen. There is an upside to using this strategy though as using the limitless chip in MD-3, could manage injuries and rotation to still capitalize on the juicy MD-3 fixtures.

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To learn more about fixture difficulty and how chips work, check out my tips and tricks article that also includes day-wise Ease of Fixture (EOF) analyses for MD-1, MD-2 MD-3. My colleague MiQ has also posted a freestanding article devoted to fixture difficulty.

Now here are some player picks for MD-1 categorized according to the strategy they are best suited for.


Goalkeepers

Gianluigi Donnarumma (€5.5m- Italy)

Well suited for all chip strategies

Italy Training Session And Press Conference Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Italy has kept a clean sheet in each of its eight previous outings. Donnarumma’s excellent communication and shot-stopping skills have played a major part in many of the excellent displays. Donnarumma is certainly worth the high €5.5 m price tag, being supported by arguably the best defense in the world.

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Lukás Hradecky (€4m- Finland)

Well suited for all chip strategies

Finland Portraits - UEFA Euro 2020 Photo by Joosep Martinson - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Priced at €4m, Hradecky is the cheapest starting keeper in the game, which makes him a good budget pick. Although Finland doesn’t have good clean sheet potential, Hradecky can expect to face a load of shots that should produce some save points.

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Unai Simon (€5m- Spain)

Well suited for all chip strategies

Spain v Portugal - International Friendly Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Spaniards have high clean sheet potential for all three group stage matches, but Unai Simon’s starting position is still in doubt, so he’s a bit of a risk. If he starts ahead of De Gea, he could be of great value. Since he has featured in goal for Spain throughout the World Cup qualifying campaign and recent international friendlies, he seems well-positioned to hold the Spanish #1 spot.

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Honorable Mentions

Daniel Bachmann (€4.5m – Austria)

Austria has an easy MD-1 fixture with a high clean sheet probability against North Macedonia, which makes Bachmann a decent pick. But after MD-1 the fixtures get quite tricky for Austria, facing Netherlands and Ukraine in MD-2 & MD-3 respectively.

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Kasper Schmeichel (€5m- Denmark)

Denmark has good clean sheet potentials in MD-1 & MD-3, making the Danish keeper an excellent pick. However, Kjaer and Maehle are cheaper routes to the Danish defense.

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Tim Krul (€4.5m-Netherlands)

The Netherlands has a fairly high clean sheet potential in MD-1 & MD-3, making Tim Krul a tempting pick. With Cilissen out of the Euros, Krul should be the natural starter for the Dutch. In MD-2, the Oranjes have their task cut out against Austria if they are to maintain a clean sheet, especially if Frank de Boer switches to a back five.


Defenders

Joakim Maehle & Simon Kjaer (€4.5m- Denmark)

Best suited for limitless in MD-2 and wildcard in the quarters

Denmark vs Bosnia-Herzegovina - Test Match Photo by Jan Christensen / FrontzoneSport via Getty Images
FBL-EURO-2020-2021-FRIENDLY-GER-DEN Photo by FEDERICO GAMBARINI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Maehle and Kjaer are usually nailed on starters for Denmark, so their relatively soft MD-1 & MD-3 fixtures perfectly fit the MD-2 limitless plus saving the wildcard until the quarterfinals. Adding to this, J Maehle also offers an attacking threat, cutting in from the left-hand side, which is a bonus at his price point.

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Jason Denayer (€4.5m- Belgium)

Well suited for all chip strategies

Belgium v Croatia - International Friendly Photo by John Berry/Getty Images

Denayer is the cheapest way into Belgium’s defense, so his ownership has been rising steadily. He is one of the Red Devils’ three starting center-backs but is priced much less than his defensive partners, making him a valuable MD-1 pick for all chip strategies.

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Pau Torres (€4.5m- Spain)

Well suited for all chip strategies

Spain v Portugal - International Friendly Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Pau Torres is a nailed-on starter for Luis Enrique’s Spanish side, and he is the cheapest starting defender. Considering La Furia Roja’s easy group, all three matches have high clean sheet potential, making Pau Torres an excellent MD-1 pick for all chip strategies.

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Leonardo Spinazzola (€5.5m- Italy)

Best Suited for all chip strategies

Italy v Czech Republic - International Friendly Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Italy’s formidable defensive record and relatively easy group make an Azzurri defender close to essential. With an assured starting position and a decent attacking threat going forward, Spinnazzola is a fantastic MD-1 pick where he faces 29th ranked Turkey on opening day.

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Honorable Mentions

Alessandro Bastoni (€4.5m - Italy)

Could be an excellent budget pick if he starts for Italy, a player to watch throughout the tournament.

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Ricardo Rodríguez (€5.5m- Switzerland)

Being one of the few defenders who takes all set-pieces, even penalties, Rodriguez’s attacking threat makes him a brilliant pick for MD-1.

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Ezgjan Alioski (€4.5m- North Macedonia)

Like R Rodríguez, Alioski is one of the few PK-taking defenders in the game. Although clean sheets aren’t exactly easy to come by for North Macedonia, Alioski can be relied upon for some attacking returns.


Midfielders

Eden Hazard (€10m- Belgium)

Well suited for all chip strategies

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

The price tag of €10m for Hazard might be off-putting, but he has always performed well for Belgium, and his 32 goals plus 33 assists in 107 appearances speak for themselves. Hazard could potentially take penalties instead of Lukaku and be a real differential MD-1 pick. He fits in well with all aforementioned chip strategies if he starts.

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Christian Eriksen (€9m-Denmark)

Best suited for limitless in MD2 + wildcard in the quarters.

Denmark - Bosnia and Herzegovina Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Eriksen is Denmark’s main set-piece taker. He has scored 36 goals and provided 24 assists at the decent rate of 136 minutes per involvement in his 106 appearances for Denmark. Easy fixtures for Denmark in MD-1 & MD-3 make him an excellent pick for managers using limitless in MD-2 while saving the wildcard until the quarterfinals.

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Ferran Torres (€8m-Spain)

Well suited for all chip strategies

Spain v Portugal - International Friendly Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Ferran Torres seems to be the best attacking threat for the Spaniards. Luis Enrique has trusted the young Manchester City winger, and it has paid off with 6 goals in 11 international appearances. Given Spain’s fairly easy group, Ferran Torres is a good MD-1 pick for all chip strategies.

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David Alaba (€5.5m- Austria)

Well suited for all chip strategies

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

David Alaba is one of the best enablers in the game, as witnessed by his 17 % ownership. The versatile Madridista plays in various positions for Austria, including CAM, LW, LWB & LB. He is also on corners & free kicks, and he might even share penalty duty with Sabitzer, which makes him an exciting prospect. His low €5.5m price point makes him a good pick for all chip strategies.

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Domenico Berardi (€6m –Italy)

Well suited for all chip strategies

Italy v Czech Republic - International Friendly Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

If he starts, Berardi could be one of the most underpriced players in the game. He has been Italy’s top scorer for the 2020-21 season, outscoring the likes of highly-priced Immobile and Insigne. All signs point towards him starting ahead of Chiesa on the right-wing. Since we get to see Italy’s MD-1 lineup, Berardi can always be swapped out if he doesn’t. Italy’s fairly easy group makes him an excellent pick for MD-1 regardless of chip strategy.

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Andriy Yarmolenko (€8.5m- Ukraine)

Best suited for limitless MD-3 + wildcard quarterfinals

Germany v Ukraine - Group C: UEFA Euro 2016 Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Although Ukraine faces a tough Netherlands side in MD-1, the easy fixture against North Macedonia in MD-2 makes Yarmelenko a decent pick for managers using limitless in MD-3 + wildcard in the quarterfinals. The Ukrainian has racked up 40 goals and 21 assists in 94 national team appearances at an impressive rate of 119 minutes per. He is Ukraine’s main attacking threat and is also first in line to take penalties.

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Honorable Mentions

Joshua Kimmich (€6m- Germany)

Germany v Latvia - International Friendly Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Kimmich could also be a good budget option in the midfield. Although the 1st fixture against France isn’t ideal, the easy MD-3 fixture against Hungary makes up for this, especially if Germany must play for goal difference to survive the Group of Death. Kimmich is Germany’s primary free-kick and corner taker, so he’s expected to get a lot of assists.

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Robin Lod (€5.5m- Finland)

Lod is Finland’s corner and free-kick taker and has great assist and goal potential for his price. He could be an excellent enabler for MD-1.

Wales v Finland - UEFA Nations League - Group B4 - Cardiff City Stadium Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Forwards

Romelu Lukaku (€11m-Belgium)

Well suited for all chip strategies

Belgium v Croatia - International Friendly Photo by Vincent Van Doornick/Isosport/MB Media/Getty Images

Yes! Lukaku fits perfectly well in all the strategies, making him close to essential for MD-1 and arguably the best fantasy asset to own in the entire game. With a jaw-dropping 76 minutes per goal or assist in 93 appearances for Belgium, the Inter Milan superstar is one of the best picks for MD1. He fits in perfectly if limitless is used in MD-2, as he has easy fixtures in MD-1 and MD-3 against Russia and Finland respectively. In MD-2, although there are other options with easier fixtures, we can count on the big Belgian to deliver some points, even against a tricky Danish side, which makes him a viable option for those that plan to use limitless in MD-3 too.

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Cristiano Ronaldo (€12m- Portugal)

Well suited for all chip strategies

Spain v Portugal - International Friendly Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

The man that needs no introduction, Cristiano Ronaldo has been Portugal’s talisman for years now. The Portuguese winger-turned-striker has consistently produced staggering numbers throughout his career, scoring 103 goals and providing 40 assists at the rate of 95 minutes per return in 174 appearances for his national team. Portugal’s easy fixture against Hungary in MD-1 makes him an excellent option. Although he might not be everyone’s cup of tea because of Portugal’s difficult 2nd & 3rd fixtures, he can be picked for MD-1 and then replaced.

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Robert Lewandowski (€11.5m- Poland)

Best suited for group-stage chips strategy

Poland v Iceland - International Friendly Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Lewandowski is Poland’s main attacker, so if Poland scores, it is highly likely that he is involved. The Bayern Munich man has wrapped up a fantastic domestic campaign and after missing April through injury is now the most in-form player coming into the tournament. The polish maestro netted 66 goals and assisted 23 times in his illustrious international career at a fantastic rate of 101 minutes per involvement over 118 appearances. He is a perfect pick for MD-1 for managers that plan to use both wildcard and limitless in the group stages, given Poland’s relatively easy fixture in MD-1. There are better options for managers that plan to save the wildcard for the quarters as Poland’s fixtures in MD-2 and MD-3 aren’t as favorable.

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Memphis Depay (€10m - Netherlands)

Best suited for limitless in MD-2 & wildcard in the quarters

Netherlands Portraits - UEFA Euro 2020 Photo by Alexander Scheuber - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Depay’s growth as a player has been fun to watch. Since his turbulent time at Man United, he has matured into a wonderful player for Olympique Lyon and the Netherlands. Depay has scored 26 goals and provided 23 assists in his budding international career, a rate of 97 minutes per involvement across 64 appearances.

The Dutch have a fairly decent fixture against Ukraine in MD-1 and an easy game on paper in MD-3 against North Macedonia, the worst-ranked team in the whole tournament, so Depay is a very suitable pick for managers who plan to use the limitless in MD-2 + wildcard in the quarters.

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Honorable Mentions

Harry Kane (€11.5m-England)

England v Austria - International Friendly Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images

Not the best option for MD-1 as England faces a tough Croatian side, but Kane can score against any opposition on any given day, so he’s always an option.

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Ciro Immobile (€10m- Italy)

Although Immobile is Italy’s main goal threat and has favorable fixtures, there are better options at his price point for MD-1. He is the best captain for opening day when Italy faces Turkey, but he isn’t as valuable to own as some of his teammates at other positions.


Be sure to read our 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 visit 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 got you covered for the entire Euro 2020 and more exciting content is coming up. Stay tuned!


What is your chip strategy? Is using the wildcard in the group stage too much of a risk? What MD-1 players have I missed? Which is the best goalkeeping duo for the entire group stage? Which teams’ defense and fixtures are good enough to double up on? What questions do you have? Please let me know in the comments below. Cheers!

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