With seven matches still remaining to be played, Euro 2020 has already broken the record for goals scored. Indeed, 29 goals were scored in the round of 16 alone. Unfortunately, my fantasy team notched only two, plus three assists. Such is the life of a fantasy manager.
I assume that, like me, many of you started hoarding Dutch and French players in anticipation of those teams advancing clear to the semis. I had four players from the Netherlands, three from France and one Swedish player. They were all eliminated of course, along with a German and a Portuguese for ten. What a bloodbath!
Captains mostly disappointed in the Round of 16 too. I jumped from Ciro Immobile to Denzel Dumfries to Kylian Mbappe before finally landing on Emil Forsberg. Forsberg salvaged my armband, returning a passable 7 x 2 = 14. Still, my Round of 16 score is my lowest yet, a lackluster 47.
Luckily, I still have my wildcard chip to play, so there is no point in saving it any longer. I could build a team of 11 players using my three free transfers plus a hit, but I feel like this is my chance to climb the ranks, so I will take it. Here’s how my team looked after the Round of 16:
England conceded zero goals, and Italy conceded just the one freak goal against Austria. Denmark kept 2 clean sheets in a row with strong defensive showcases. So considering that I must choose goalkeepers who play on different days, my options for goalkeepers for the quarterfinals are:
- Gianluigi Donnarumma (€5.6 m, Belgium vs Italy)
- Jordan Pickford (€5.7 m, Ukraine vs England) OR Kasper Schmeichel (€5.0 m, Czech Republic vs Denmark)
Picking either Pickford or Schmeichel will depend on how much budget I have available after I am done with the rest of my team.
Considering the same statistics mentioned above and my personal philosophy to avoid same team duplication within a position, here are my defender picks for the quarterfinals. I am going all in with wing-backs since assists and goals are the theme of Euro 2020:
- Leonardo Spinnazola (€5.6 m, Belgium vs Italy)
- Jordi Alba (€6.2 m, Switzerland vs Spain)
- Thomas Meuneir (€5.7 m, Belgium vs Italy)
- Luke Shaw (€6,1 m, Ukraine vs England)
- Joakim Maehle (€4.7 m, Czech Republic vs Denmark)
This position is tricky, with players’ returns often varying greatly from one round to the next. I deeply regret not fielding Federico Chiesa, Pablo Sarabia and Raheem Sterling in my Round of 16 team. Although I had a gut feeling against them, they all ended up producing the goods. This time I am ignoring all stats and numbers when selecting my midfielders and forwards. The only value under consideration here is the risk of elimination:
- Pablo Sarabia (€6.7 m, Switzerland vs Spain)
- Federico Chiesa (€7.0 m, Belgium vs Italy)
- Mikkel Damsgaard (€6.1 m, Czech Republic vs Denmark)
- Raheem Sterling (€9.7 m, Ukraine vs England)
- Andriy Yarmolenko (€8.7 m, Ukraine vs England)
As soon as I begin thinking about forwards, I start having flashbacks to the Matthijs De Ligt handball that destroyed so many fantasy teams. The thought makes me nervous about having more than three players from any one team at this stage.
- Romelu Lukaku (€11.3 m, Belgium vs Italy)
- Alvaro Morata (€9.1 m, Switzerland vs Spain)
- Patrick Schick (€8.6 m, Czech Republic vs Denmark)
Minimum confirmed elimination: 4 players (If Italy, Denmark, England and Spain win)
The Belgium vs Italy match is high risk and would cost me an additional eliminated player if Belgium wins. That would put me at five, which is the number of free transfers for the semifinals. Any upset could cause additional losses, but I should be able to field at least 12 players in the semifinals without suffering any 4-point hits.
This has been by far the hardest and most surprising fantasy game I have ever played. Ordinarily I would stock up on five English players against Ukraine plus three Spaniards, three Danes and two each from Italy and Belgium, but I cannot trust this competition in which anything can happen and favorites self-destruct.
Nagging thoughts are tempting me to transfer Morata out to bring in Immobile, increasing my number of Italians to four. However, I am reminded to never gamble with a Sicilian when death is on the line.
I will be monitoring Kevin De Bruyne’s condition and readiness to play; confirmation that he is fully fit is the only way I can be convinced to bring him in. Here is my current selection, with €0.0 m left in the bank:
Without a doubt, England has a better chance than Italy to qualify, so my team may end up looking like this with €0.1 left in the bank:
Going back and preparing myself for quick changes if and only if KDB is ready to play with €1.6 m left in the bank:
I am pretty satisfied with my first option, which includes four Italian players. Also, the fact that there is exactly zero money left in the bank gives me a reassuring feeling even though it obviously has no effect on how the players will perform on the field. Here are some questions that linger in my head:
- Did I miss any important players?
- Am I wrong to field more Italian players even though my pre Euro 2020 prediction was Belgium to lift the trophy?
- Is Chiesa going to start? If not then will he be given a chance to play? If the chance is given, can he outscore the higher quality players from Belgium?
- Will Dolberg start again now that Poulsen is fit again?
- Will Grealish get enough minutes? Will Kane crawl back into his midfield shell?
- Can Lukaku produce anything against the tight Italians? Can Immobile against the Belgians?
Please let me know what your thoughts. I look forward to your feedback since I would really like to break the 55 point ceiling that I hit on three match-days (the fourth time registering 47). And feel free to post your own roster, then ask the Never Manage Alone community to please “Rate my Team”.
Which of the three lineups would you go for if you had the wildcard?
This poll is closed
The first one with four Italians
The second line-up because it’s coming home to England!
Number three if KDB is fit, and we’ll know Italy’s line-up
None of the above, read my comment below...
How much deadwood is in your squad after the Round of 16? Do you still have a chip to play? If not, will you take hits to field a full squad, or are you content to play with less than 15? Please share your team and transfer plans below!