The Copa America kicks into crunch time starting this weekend with the final set of group matchdays. Group A is up first as the host United States need a draw to secure a place in the quarterfinals, though it would likely be facing Brazil as runner-up. Colombia leads the group and has clinched a spot in the round of eight and needs only a draw to secure the top spot in the group. Paraguay can advance with a victory over the U.S., while Costa Rica must rout Colombia to have any chance of advancing.
There are a few things that make picking this lineup challenging. The first part is that the matches are not going on simultaneously, with the U.S. facing Paraguay first. That means Colombia will know exactly what it has to do to win the group before kicking off, and there is a chance it may rest some of its regulars if nothing is at stake and has clinched first in the group. This also means picking Costa Rican players proves a sizable risk because if the Ticos know they are eliminated, they will probably go with a youthful lineup with no chance of advancing in the Copa.
These picks cover the matches for June 10 and 11, using a 4-4-2 formation and salary cap of $90,000 as part of Fan XT’s Daily Fantasy rules for the EURO 2016 tournament.
Goalkeeper: David Ospina, Colombia ($7,500). While he didn’t get a clean sheet against Paraguay, there’s no shame the goal he conceded to Victor Ayala because that 30-yard blast still stands as the goal of Copa America thus far. Regardless of what is at stake for Colombia, Ospina is the best bet for a clean sheet because the U.S.-Paraguay match figures to be an open affair with the potential for lots of goals.
Defenders: John Brooks, United States ($7,580). Brooks has been the best player on the backline for the U.S. thus far, and given the confidence after the 4-0 pasting the Yanks gave Costa Rica in their last match, there’s momentum for a second straight clean sheet.
Jesino Murillo, Colombia ($8,130). Murillo has been a mainstay in this DFS backline, and it will continue here. Steady and effective, he has helped Los Cafeteros limit opponents’ chances, and that should extend to Saturday’s match against Costa Rica.
Geoff Cameron, United States ($7,190). With the U.S. needing at least a draw, it will also likely need at least one goal or even two to ensure survival. Along with Brooks, Cameron is one of the better threats on corner kicks for the U.S., and could provide a big goal from the back line.
DeAndre Yedlin, United States ($7,090). Yedlin improved from the Colombia match to the Costa Rica one, his cross led to the penalty that Clint Dempsey converted to send the U.S. on its way. The Sunderland back is starting to understand how and when to use his pace for his advantage, and he’s showing the ability to send in crosses from the right side into dangerous areas.
Midfielders: Jermaine Jones, United States ($7,160). Jones is coming off arguably his best game for the U.S. since scoring in the 2014 World Cup against Portgual, netting a goal against Costa Rica and playing a strong two-way game. With Michael Bradley laying deeper to distribute in the 4-3-3 formation used by the Yanks, that means Jones is going to again link up with Dempsey, and the two should find some space in the midfield with Paraguay’s Oscar Romero serving a red-card ban.
James Rodriguez, Colombia ($11,380). Two matches, two goals and all-around spectacular play by the Real Madrid winger thus far, and Rodriguez showed no ill effects from the shoulder injury that forced him from the U.S. match. While there is a chance Rodriguez may be rested if Colombia is assured first in Group A before kickoff, his form is too good at this point to risk sitting him and missing a potential goal-scoring bonanza against Costa Rica.
Edwin Cardona, Colombia ($7,340). Cardona has been one of the surprises of the Copa thus far, continuing his stellar form for his club Monterrey into this tournament. He has two assists and has been at the center of everything in Colombia’s attack for distribution. Cardona leads Los Cafeteros with 10 shots, putting four of them on frame.
Juan Cuadrado, Colombia ($8,560). Cuadrado looked much closer to an offensive rhythm in his second match than against the U.S. and has been finding pockets of space to potentially do damage. Given Costa Rica’s soft defense and suspect goalkeepering, Cuadrado should have the space to try some long-range efforts as well as be sent into the penalty area on through balls by Cardona.
Forwards: Clint Dempsey, United States ($7,280). Easily the best player for the U.S. through its first two matches, Dempsey provided a load of fantasy points against Costa Rica with a goal and two assists. He has been masterful at both letting the ball come to him and also finding opponents with short passes in the final third in the Copa, and expect more of the same against Paraguay if he continues to link with Jones and Bradley.
Carlos Bacca, Colombia ($8,560). Atfer being denied by the crossbar late against the U.S., Bacca quickly made sure he wouldn’t go a second match without a goal with a header early versus Paraguay. The AC Milan man has been tireless up front thus far for Los Cafeteros, and will prove a handful for the Costa Rican backline.