Euro Cup Football Sports

W Fansports: Matchday 1 Scout squad

The Scout’s first squad for UEFA EURO 2020 is mainly based around a small number of teams, with Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain supplying three representatives apiece. Pick your EURO Fantasy squad for Matchday 1

Goalkeepers

As ever with the goalkeepers, the key is to pick players who are in action on different days as well as those who have a decent prospect of keeping a clean sheet. With nine of the 11 EURO 2020 hosts having qualified for the tournament, home advantage could also come into play and it’s here the Scout is looking to capitalise. Denmark have kept four clean sheets in their last five fixtures, conceding only one goal in that sequence, so Kasper Schmeichel (€5.0m) is selected for the Group B opener against EURO debutants Finland on 12 June.

Should the Danes not manage to keep a clean sheet, Unai Simón (€6.0m), whose Spain side take on Sweden in Seville two days later, is the second pick. The Athletic Club keeper is vying with David de Gea for the Spanish No1 shirt, but his prospects may be boosted by a clean sheet in the goalless draw against reigning European champions Portugal on 4 June.

Defenders

The defensive strengths of Denmark and Spain, coupled with the home advantage they enjoy, mean both teams are also represented among the five defenders who, with an eye on saving funds for investment further forward, are all priced towards the lower end of the scale. Pau Torres (€6.0m), fresh from helping Villarreal win their first ever trophy in the UEFA Europa League, is the representative from a Spain side who have kept clean sheets in both warm-up friendlies, while Simon Kjær (€5.0m) gets the nod from Denmark.

Another calculated risk is Jason Denayer (€6.0m), who looks to have earned a role in Belgium’s three-man defence and is a low-budget route into a side who could well go deep into the tournament. Also slight gambles are Alessandro Bastoni (€5.5m), whose Italy side get the tournament under way at home to Turkey on 11 June – allowing the possibility for a last-minute reshuffle should the Inter Milan defender not be selected to start – and Owen Wijndal (€5.5m), with the Netherlands opening up against Ukraine in Amsterdam on the back of clean sheets in both their home matches this year.

Midfielders

The midfield also has a familiar look to it, with four of the five players representing countries who have already provided players to the squad. Italy’s run of eight successive victories, with a clean sheet in each, coupled with what is likely to be an attacking role for Lorenzo Insigne (€8.0m), make the Napoli man a key signing, not least for his 19 Serie A goals in 2020/21.

Steven Berghuis (€6.5m) scored one fewer in the Eredivisie for Feyenoord and, though he has managed only two in 26 appearances for the Netherlands, he could well find his scoring boots in Group C, while Spain’s Ferran Torres (€9.0m) has five goals in his last five international appearances and is another player who could profit from a more advanced role.

Denmark’s creative heartbeat Christian Eriksen (€7.0m) managed five goals and four assists in qualifying, and is sure to be central to his side’s prospects again, while Loïc Négo (€4.5m) is both a useful budget enabler and a potential attacking asset in his own right, having scored six league goals this season and having found the net in Hungary’s play-off win against Iceland.

Forwards

Careful guarding of funds elsewhere means there’s the opportunity to invest heavily in the three-man forward line. Ciro Immobile (€9.0m) managed 20 Serie A goals for Lazio this season, to follow on from his 36 in 2019/20, and has struck in three of his last four Italy appearances, including the 4-0 win against the Czech Republic on 4 June.

Memphis Depay (€8.5m) managed six goals in qualifying and eight assists – the latter more than any other player on the road to EURO 2020 – and has five goals in his last three Netherlands appearances, including three in this month’s warm-up friendlies. Romelu Lukaku (€11.5m), meanwhile, might have to make do without the usual service from Kevin De Bruyne and perhaps Eden Hazard on Matchday 1, but eight goals in his nine international appearances in 2020/21, together with his 24 in Inter’s title-winning campaign, make a compelling case for inclusion.

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