On paper, it’s the soccer match FAN XT DFS players have waited for eagerly. Host country France playing its group minnow, newcomers Albania. It’s a contest made more mouthwatering with Albania missing captain and defender Lorik Cana for a red card suspension after being sent off late in the first half against Switzerland.
While Switzerland wasn’t able to add to its early lead against the Kuq e Zinjte despite playing with an extra man for nearly an hour, the way France flowed offensively before putting away Romania 2-1 on Dmitiri Payet’s late wonder strike portends bad things for the Euros newcomers. It may be a match where France picks its number in a bid to secure passage into the round of 16.
The other matches feature the Swiss seeking a second straight victory against Romania to round out Group A, and Russia trying to build on its last-gasp draw against England against a Slovakia side licking its wounds from a surprising loss to Wales in a Group B tussle.
These picks cover the matches for June 15, using a 4-4-2 formation and salary cap of $90,000 as part of Fan XT’s Daily Fantasy rules for the European Championships.
Goalkeeper: Yann Sommer, Switzerland ($7,630). While Switzerland controlled most of the match, Sommer still needed to make a huge save late to preserve the lead and his clean sheet. He may not get a second straight shutout given the step up in class Romania presents, but the Swiss should still be the better team here.
Defenders: Patrice Evra ($7,130) and Bacary Sagna ($7,440), France. Sticking with France’s outside backs for a second straight match is a low-risk, high-reward play with the potential for bonus offensive points. Evra struggled at times against Romania, but Les Bleus should have a possession rate nearing 70 percent for this match and be able to contain anything Albania throws on the counter.
Johan Djuorou, Switzerland ($7,220). The Hamburg SV captain had a solid game anchoring Switzerland’s backline and is once more being utilized as a value pick for salary cap flexibility.
Vasili Berezutski, Russia ($7,190). Quick note here, this is the Berezutski to insert in the lineup since his brother Alexei doesn’t start. Vasili had a strong game anchoring Russia’s well-marsahled defense, which didn’t concede a goal in the run of play against a very talented England side. This contest against Slovakia figures to be more of a chess match that plays into Russia’s more deliberate tempo and should result in another strong game for Berezutski.
Midfielders: Marek Hamsik, Slovakia ($9,190). This pick serves the purpose of getting the best player on the field for a given match in a DFS lineup. Hamsik caused some nervoius moments against Wales early, and would have had a goal if not for the brilliant clearance by Ben Davies. The Napoli star will be challenged by Russia’s well-disciplined back line, but he’s definitely capable of providing a scoring punch.
Nicolae Stanciu, Romania ($7,220). Stanciu was a bit of a revelation in the Euros opener, showing plenty of talent on the ball and taking the match to France’s vaunted midfield. He’ll face a similar challenge against the Swiss, but he’s underpriced here and worth a gamble to see what he gets going forward.
N’Golo Kante, France ($8,250). After watching him simply dispossess opponents of the ball before giving it to Riyad Mahrez to help Leicester City win the Premier League title, Kante proved a pleasant surprise with some offensive chops in the victory over Romania. He should again create scoring chances for Les Bleus, and his tireless running means he might be on the receiving end of some as well.
Paul Pogba, France ($11,060). Despite the Juventus star’s high price tag, Pogba may have felt a little too much pressure in France’s opener _ he tried to play too perfectly at times as opposed to simply influencing the game from the center of the park. The hedge here is that coach Didier Deschamps has calmed down his young star between matches and will be able to patiently pick out holes in Albania’s defense.
Forwards: Dimitri Payet, France ($8,440). Coming off a masterclass performance in France’s win, culminating with his brilliant strike from distance for the match-winner, Payet continued displaying the form that helped West Ham United clinch a spot in the Europa League. The mass of bodies that will defend Albania’s goal might make space in the final third tougher to find, but between his proficiency on set pieces and threat to score on any touch, there’s no way Payet can be left off any XI.
Olivier Giroud, France ($8,690). The love-hate relationship France’s fan base has with the Arsenal striker swung back to l’amour after he netted the match’s first goal. Of course, that came after Giroud was profligate with two gilt-edged chances. What can’t be denied, though, is that he has eight goals in his last six caps _ an impressive strike rate for any player on the planet. Giroud should see plenty of action as a target forward in this match given France will be pumping in crosses and corners at a high volume.
By Chris Altruda