EURO 2020 Fantasy Football: Differential picks for the final
Thursday, July 8, 2021
There are only two teams remaining, but Fantasy managers looking to go against majority opinion when picking their final squad still have several choices.
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UEFA.com highlights a selection of the less sought-after Fantasy players who could steal the show in Sunday's final between Italy and England.
With Gianluigi Donnarumma the more popular of the two goalkeepers expected to line up in the final, that makes England's Jordan Pickford (€5.9m) the differential choice. Beaten for the first time in the tournament during the semi-finals, Pickford has nonetheless enjoyed an outstanding tournament, having registered five clean sheets.
Despite an ownership figure trailing that of Donnarumma at 38%, Pickford boasts two more clean sheets as well as 11 saves compared to his Italian counterpart's nine. With 33 Fantasy points to his name, Pickford heads into the final as the third-highest scorer among the players remaining in the competition.
While Italy's Leonardo Bonucci is currently the third-most-owned defensive asset, centre-back partner Giorgio Chiellini (€6.0m) has courted much less interest. Much of that is likely down to an injury that kept him out of Matchdays 3 and 4, with many bringing Bonucci into their squads and maintaining him as their Italian defensive cover.
Although Chiellini is the more expensive option, offensively he poses as big a threat as Bonucci from set pieces and, at 10% ownership, the Italian captain may prove a wise play for those looking to overtake their mini-league rivals on the final matchday.
Those who gambled on bringing Emerson (€5.5m) into their side for the semi-finals were handsomely rewarded, with Italy's starting replacement for the injured Leonardo Spinazzola substituted in the 73rd minute when his side were 1-0 up. Although the contest finished 1-1 after extra time, Emerson's early withdrawal meant he retained his clean sheet for a score of six Fantasy points.
A solid performance from the left-back is likely to keep him in the starting line-up and, when taking into account the attacking freedom afforded to him by Roberto Mancini, Emerson's low ownership of 6% is ripe for exploitation among Fantasy managers looking to bring in a differential defender.
From an England perspective, much will depend on whether Gareth Southgate sticks with two starting central defenders or reverts to three centre-backs as he did successfully against Germany in the round of 16. Should Southgate opt for the latter, then Kieran Trippier (€5.4m) is likely to make his third start of the tournament.
The full-back's set pieces and overlapping runs from the right make him stand out as a defender with golden Fantasy potential, even before considering the fact England have kept clean sheets in both games he's started so far. Knowing the England starting line-up ahead of the Fantasy deadline will come in handy here, with 4%-owned Trippier the ideal differential defender to transfer in late on if selected.
After not featuring on either Matchday 3 or 4, Mason Mount (€7.3m) started in each of England's quarter-final and semi-final victories. An assist in the former match was Mount's first attacking return of the tournament and, as a player who's fully trusted by Gareth Southgate, he may well play a key role in the final.
Currently in 16% of teams, Mount has also taken many of England's corners at EURO 2020, one of which led to his solitary assist against Ukraine, and given the threat England pose from set pieces, this could prove to be a route towards further returns against Italy.
Another England midfielder pushing for a start in the final is Bukayo Saka (€6.6m). The 19-year-old winger has impressed many since breaking into the starting line-up against the Czech Republic on Matchday 3 and has started two of England's three knockout games leading up to the final.
It was Saka's assist that led to England's equalising goal against Denmark and, available at a bargain price, not only could he prove an enticing differential option at 2% ownership, he could also be the ideal budget enabler for those looking to spread the bulk of their funds elsewhere. However, as with Mount, hold off on making any transfers involving Saka until the England starting line-up is known.
While both Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa have garnered all the attention among those looking to bring in Italian midfielders, an alternate option worth considering is Nicolò Barella (€7.5m). Owned by 19% of managers, the Inter man has been a regular presence in the centre of Mancini's midfield over the course of the tournament.
With both a goal and an assist to his name, he has shown himself to be an offensive threat too. In order to make up ground on mini-league rivals in the final straight, Fantasy managers may want to take a gamble on a number of selections – and though Barella represents a high-risk option, it could come with a high reward.
The two forwards expected to start on Matchday 7 both command exceedingly high ownership percentages, with England's Harry Kane and Italy's Ciro Immobile currently featuring in over 50% of Fantasy squads. Therefore, those looking for a differential forward option will likely have to rely on an impact substitute.
The most popular option available is Italy's Andrea Belotti (€7.9m), who is in 10% of teams after featuring from the bench in each of the Azzurri's three knockout matches. Belotti came into this tournament on the back of 13 goals and seven assists for Torino in Serie A last season and has proven an immediate threat each time Mancini has called upon his services.
With Immobile's goalscoring touch having deserted him since Matchday 2, Belotti could be the attacking player to write his name into Italian folklore by playing the deciding role off the bench against England. Considering that both semi-finals went to extra time, Belotti could be afforded plenty of minutes on the field to register an attacking return.