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EURO 2020 Fantasy Football
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Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Matz Sels (Strasbourg)
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Timothy Castagne (Leicester), Jason Denayer (Lyon), Thomas Meunier (Dortmund), Thomas Vermaelen (Vissel Kobe), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica)
Midfielders: Nacer Chadli (Istanbul Basaksehir), Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), Leander Dendoncker (Wolves), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Thorgan Hazard (Dortmund), Dennis Praet (Leicester), Youri Tielemans (Leicester), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Axel Witsel (Dortmund)
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Jeremy Doku (Rennes), Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Leandro Trossard (Brighton)
Best European Championship Finish: Quarter-Finalists (2016)
Belgium head into EURO 2020 as one of the favourites win the whole tournament and it’s easy to see why when you see the plethora of talent within their ranks particularly in attack. Whilst the Red Devils harbour injury concerns over both captain Eden Hazard and playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, who fractured both his nose and eye socket in Man City’s UEFA Champions League final defeat to Chelsea, manager Roberto Martinez is confident both will be ready to feature for his side at the start of the competition. With 37 goals in his past 35 appearances for Belgium, striker Romelu Lukaku is expected to be in the running for the golden boot, whilst a three-pronged central defence with Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois behind the sticks are as capable with the ball at their feet as they are defending. Whilst Belgium may be ranked the number one team in the world at present, this current golden era are yet to add that illusive major trophy to their legacy. Both Martinez and the players will be well aware that EURO 2020 represents their best chance yet to do so and therefore Belgium are favoured to dominate Group B when considering the offensive quality and world class players at their disposal.
Expected Group Placing: 1st place
Goalkeepers: Jonas Lossl (Midtjylland), Frederik Ronnow (Schalke), Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester)
Defenders: Joachim Andersen (Fulham), Nicolai Boilesen (Copenhagen), Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Mathias Jorgensen (Copenhagen), Simon Kjaer (AC Milan), Joakim Maehle (Atalanta), Jens Stryger Larsen (Udinese), Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton)
Midfielders: Anders Christiansen (Malmo), Thomas Delaney (Borussia Dortmund), Christian Eriksen (Inter Milan), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham), Mathias Jensen (Brentford), Christian Norgaard (Brentford), Robert Skov (Hoffenheim), Daniel Wass (Valencia)
Forwards: Martin Braithwaite (Barcelona), Andreas Cornelius (Parma), Mikkel Damsgaard (Sampdoria), Kasper Dolberg (Nice), Andreas Skov Olsen (Bologna), Yussuf Poulsen (Leipzig), Jonas Wind (Copenhagen)
Best European Championship Finish: Winners (1992)
Almost 19 years have passed since the greatest achievement in Danish football history when a Brian Laudrup, Henrik Larsson and Peter Schmeichel inspired Denmark lifted the 1992 European Championship trophy. However, the Denmark side of today are looking to create their own history and they have plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Defensively, they are a very strong outfit and enter EURO 2020 having recorded six clean sheets in their last eight competitive games. Led by the ever-dependable Simon Kjaer at centre-back, Denmark can also call upon one of the best goalkeepers in the competition with Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel an excellent shot stopper and commander of his defence. On the flip side though, Denmark are significantly weaker going forward and lack a potent goalscorer, which could led to their downfall as the tournament progresses. Group B rivals Belgium have already beaten them twice over the past year in the UEFA Nations League and Roberto Martinez’s men are expected to triumph once again when the two teams lock horns at EURO 2020. However, this doesn’t change the fact that Denmark are a strong team in their own right, as proved when they defeated England at Wembley last October and it would no surprise if the Danes were to record three points over both Russia and Finland to finish as Group B runners up.
Expected Group Placing: 2nd place
Goalkeepers: Lukas Hradecky (Bayer Leverkusen), Anssi Jaakkola (Bristol Rovers), Jesse Joronen (Brescia)
Defenders: Paulus Arajuuri (Pafos), Robert Ivanov (Warta Poznan), Thomas Lam (Zwolle), Daniel O'Shaughnessy (HJK Helsinki), Jukka Raitala (Minnesota United), Joona Toivio (Hacken), Jere Uronen (Genk), Leo Vaisanen (Elfsborg), Sauli Vaisanen (Chievo)
Midfielders: Nikolai Alho (MTK Budapest), Fredrik Jensen (Augsburg), Glen Kamara (Rangers), Joni Kauko (Esbjerg), Robin Lod (Minnesota United), Rasmus Schuller (Djurgarden), Pyry Soiri (Esbjerg), Tim Sparv (Larissa), Robert Taylor (Brann), Onni Valakari (Pafos)
Forwards: Marcus Forss (Brentford), Lassi Lappalainen (Montreal), Joel Pohjanpalo (Union Berlin), Teemu Pukki (Norwich)
Best European Championship Finish: Have never previously qualified
Finland enter their first ever European Championship finals as very much the underdogs, however it would be foolish to write them off with their players set to give everything they have to ensure they are at least competitive in Group B. Emphasis will no doubt be placed upon defensive stability as Finland are expected to line up in a 3-5-2 formation, with the wing-backs likely to transition into a back five when the team are out of possession. However, Finland do contain one crucial weapon within their arsenal, a goalscorer! Forward Teemu Pukki netted ten goals for his country in qualifying and has recorded five in his last four competitive fixtures for Finland. The 31-year-old is coming off the back of an excellent season for Norwich, scoring 26 goals for the Canaries in the Championship and should he afforded any clear opportunities on goal, he is good enough to make Finland’s opponents pay. Unfortunately, Finland simply do not boast the strength in depth of the other teams in Group B not to mention the same ability of players all over the pitch despite the presence of Pukki. Whilst they will no doubt put up a strong fight, a bottom-placed finish looks on the cards for Markku Kanerva’s side.
Expected Group Placing: 4th place
Goalkeepers: Yuri Dyupin (Rubin Kazan), Matvei Safonov (Krasnodar), Anton Shunin (Dinamo Moscow)
Defenders: Igor Diveev (CSKA Moscow), Georgi Dzhikiya (Spartak Moscow), Mario Fernandes (CSKA Moscow), Vyacheslav Karavaev (Zenit), Fedor Kudryashov (Antalyaspor), Andrei Semenov (Akhmat Grozny)
Midfielders: Dmitri Barinov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Denis Cheryshev (Valencia), Daniil Fomin (Dinamo Moscow), Aleksandr Golovin (Monaco), Daler Kuzyaev (Zenit), Andrei Mostovoy (Zenit), Maksim Mukhin (CSKA Moscow), Magomed Ozdoev (Zenit), Rifat Zhemaletdinov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Yuri Zhirkov (Zenit), Roman Zobnin (Spartak Moscow)
Forwards: Artem Dzyuba (Zenit), Aleksei Ionov (Krasnodar), Denis Makarov (Rubin Kazan), Aleksei Miranchuk (Atalanta), Aleksandr Sobolev (Spartak Moscow), Anton Zabolotny (CSKA Moscow)
Best European Championship Finish: Winners as Soviet Union (1960)
Whilst many may look at Russia and automatically assume that they won’t provide much of a threat in Group B, 33 goals scored in qualifying suggests that they are not to be taken lightly. Zenit frontman Artem Dzyuba has scored 29 goals in 51 appearances for his country and is set to lead the line for Russia heading into EURO 2020. Head coach Stanislav Cherchesov favours a 4-2-3-1 formation with Aleksandr Golovin deployed as the central attacking midfielder just behind Dzyuba. Defensively, there is cause for concern with Russia having not kept a clean sheet in eight of their last nine competitive matches in all competitions. A side with the quality of Belgium for example, should be set to capitalise on this and Denmark will be confident of success against Russia providing their defence can shut down the service to Dzyuba. However, Russia’s firepower is likely to overwhelm Finland and could still give them a chance of qualification from Group B.
Expected Group Placing: 3rd place