One of the great parts of the European Championships is that it occasionally provides grudge matches. Switzerland and Albania provided one such offering, and on Tuesday, the Hapsburg derby of Austria and Hungary took place. Thursday provides two grudge matches as England play Wales and Germany squares off against Poland. In between, Northern Ireland and Ukraine meet in what could be an elimination match if either side emerges with a victory.
England and Wales provides the most flair given Gareth Bale has already called out England’s side for lacking the passion the Welsh claim to have in droves. In Bale’s defense, when your entire fan base makes for a thunderous chorus of song during matches, it’s hard to argue.
But it’s also hard to argue against England’s talent, and Bale’s team will be facing an angry Three Lions bunch that threw away two points by conceding an equalizer to Russia at the death. And with the usual media scrutiny facing England, anything less than three points here will immediately start a tortured inquest on the 50th anniversary of its last major title.
Poland and Germany doesn’t carry a similar blood lust, but there is plenty of intensity to go around as some players were born in the other’s country. The reigning World Cup champion can progress to the round of 16 with a win, and with so many high-profile and high-priced players, finding spots for all of them in the FAN XT Euros DFS is proving to be quite the challenge.
Yet some of those players can be shoehorned into the lineup thanks to that other match since it appears goals will be at a premium with the Ukraine and Northern Ireland. The NorIron are likely going to be on the defensive throughout their stay in France, which means selecting playmakers and defenders from the Ukraine can provide the needed cap flexibility to find a goal-scorer or two.
These picks cover the matches for June 16, 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: Andriy Pyatov, Ukraine ($7,250). Given that both teans lacked for offense against superior opponents, goals figure to be at a premium in this contest and a scoreless draw is also a strong possibility. With Ukraine having the better playmakers, Pyatov is the pick here for the potential clean sheet bonus points.
Defenders: Vyacheslav Shevchuk, Ukraine ($7,010). The defenders for this DFS lineup is all about finding them on the cheap to give flexibility for the star power up front. Shevchuk does that and is also on the outside, which means he could find spaces to go forward against Northern Ireland’s 3-5-2 set.
Yarolsav Rakitskiy, Ukraine ($7,530). Rakitsky was the best player on Ukraine’s back line against Germany, and while in central defense, he should be able to emerge as a threat on set pieces against Northern Ireland.
Craig Cathcart, Northern Ireland ($7,190). Another value pick to create flexibility, the hope here is that Northern Ireland does not concede 18 shots and eight corner kicks like it did against Poland. On the left flank of NorIron’s 3-5-2 set-up, Catchart is going to have to try and link with Steve Dallas and Oliver Norwood better this time around.
Eric Dier, England ($7,940). The scorer of England’s goal against Russia via free kick, Dier is a bit pricey as a defender but since he also sits in front of the back four, he’s responsible for distribution to the midfield and did a splendid job in the opening match. Even with the duty of keeping an eye on Bale, there should be plenty of opportunity for him to go forward.
Dele Alli, England ($7,750). Still a value pick at below $8,000, the Spurs midfielder was pivotal to a lot of England’s best moments offensively. Alli’s challenge in this emotionally charged match against Wales will be to keep a cool head when a crunching tackle comes. And in this match, it will come.
Julian Draxler, Germany ($8,380). Somewhat of a forgotten man amid Germany’s attacking options, Draxler often found space for himself against Ukraine and was able to put one of his three shots on goal in his 78 minutes of work. He’ll need another strong effort to stay ahead of Andre Schurrle on the depth chart in Die Mannschaft’s talented midfield.
Andriy Yarmolenko, Ukraine ($8,380). Yarmolenko should be the best player on the field in the match against Northern Ireland and more importantly, if Yevhen Konoplyanka is going to be on corner kick duty again _ he took 11 against Germany _ that means Yarmolenko should be able to latch onto one against NorIron given the Ukraine could exceed that total if it maintains possession.
Toni Kroos, Germany OR Mesut Ozil, Germany ($10,130). This is really the case of six of one, half-dozen of the other. You can be impressed by Ozil’s flair or Kroos’ work rate. Either way, both of them are going to create chances against Poland for either themselves, Thomas Muller or Mario Gotze. There really is no wrong pick here.
Forwards: Wayne Rooney, England ($9,500). With the Manchester United star playing in the pocket behind Harry Kane and Daniel Sturridge, Rooney controlled large portions of the match against Russia. He created chances for others and took a few himself that Igor Akinfeev did well to parry. With the Three Lions conceding after he was lifted for Jack Wilshire on 78 minutes, look for Rooney to play the full 90 this time, and also look for him to sneak closer to goal in a bid to poach one.
Harry Kane, England ($8,880). This is a make-or-break game for the Premier League’s Golden Boot winner since Jamie Vardy is chomping at the bit on the bench. Kane didn’t play that bad a game against Russia, but he also didn’t distinguish himself, which leads to the possibility of him being lifted in this match on the hour if England fail to break down Wales’ defense. Kane’s handling of corner kick duties is also a talking point, but at the same time, if the Three Lions convert even one of those, he’ll continue to take them as long as he’s on the pitch.