Euro qualifying is back this week and so is FantasyBet’s £500 Fantasy Competition, which includes the majority of Round 9 fixtures. Clarke also returns with his player tips to help you target those big points returns and snap up those differentials worth taking a punt on to break away from the crowd.
Best Goalkeepers for Euro Fantasy Round 9
A lot of people will pick out Wales as potential clean sheet candidates ahead of their trip to Azerbaijan, though looking at the group’s results and the home and away form of the respective countries, it’s a risky tactic. Wayne Hennessey (£5.0m) is too expensive considering Wales have conceded in every away game thus far, while their hosts have scored in every home fixture, including versus Croatia in Round 7.
Spain are almost guaranteed a shutout against Malta on Friday evening, though it’s still unclear whether David De Gea (£6m)and Kepa (£5.5m) will get the nod between the sticks, so that leaves England’s fixture vs. Montenegro and the Netherland’s short trip to entertain Northern Ireland as your best chance of a clean sheet.
Spending money on an England goalkeeper might feel wasteful with their abundance of quality in outfield positions, but nevertheless, it’s a difficult group of fixtures to predict a clean sheet in and Jordan Pickford (£6m) is nailed on. He’s played every minute of qualifying.
I also fancy Jasper Cillessen (£5.5m) this week. The appointment of Michael O’Neill as Stoke City manager will have shaken the Northern Ireland camp. Even though he will continue to manage the National side, the one thing which stood Northern Ireland apart was their togetherness. That might sound like a footballer-turned-pundit scraping the barrel for analysis on a Thursday night on Sky Sports, but you can’t argue that it will have affected them massively.
Best Defenders for Euro Fantasy Round 9
Whilst we’re talking about the clean sheet potential of the Netherlands and England, the Liverpool duo of Trent Alexander Arnold (£6.5m) and Virgil Van Dijk (£6.5m) are both fantastic premium picks. The former has arguably the best delivery in the Premier League alongside Kevin De Bruyne (and, in my unpopular opinion, Pascal Gross too), while the latter is a big goal threat and excellent in the bonus points system.
One concern is that Gareth Southgate has been loyal to Kieran Trippier (£6.5m) in this campaign. The Atletico fullback has played 270 mins to Arnold’s 90, but as their fixture is the first of the round, you can check the starting XI beforehand and pick the player who is included.
The expensive Sergio Ramos (£7.0m) obviously can’t be ignored with four goals in seven for Spain in qualifying and three goals in his last four starts for Real Madrid. This is a man who had the audacity to Panenka a penalty in the Champions League, despite his teammate being on for a hat-trick. As much as we love to hate him, a home fixture versus Malta is too good to miss.
Italy are currently one of the most in form countries. So far in qualifying they have won every match, kept five clean sheets and conceded just three times in their eight fixtures. It’s difficult to predict the starting line-up, as they have already qualified comfortably and have the opportunity to test new things, but Giovanni Di Lorenzo (£5.0m) was a standout performer in Round 8.
Best Midfielders for Euro Fantasy Round 9
Nicolo Barella (£5.5m) and Jorginho (£5.0m) are great options from Italy if you need that cheaper midfielder to complete your squad. Both have played significant minutes in qualifying and have been included in the rather experimental 29-man Italy squad ahead of their two fixtures.
The pair have picked up two goals a piece so far in qualifying and were on the scoresheet for their clubs in their most recent appearances. Jorginho has the advantage of being the designated penalty taker, whereas Barella plays more advanced and is more likely to register open play returns.
As mentioned before, keep an eye on that England starting XI. There are bargains to be had in their midfield, especially with Sterling being dropped for their first fixture versus Montenegro. One of Mason Mount (£7.0m), Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (£6.5m) and James Maddison (£8.0m) are worth investing in.
Jadon Sancho (£8.5m) is a further option. He has been out of favour at Borussia Dortmund recently and has a lot to prove. If he manages to make the final eleven, he could replicate the form which saw him contribute with two goals and an assist in Round 6.
I never thought I’d say this after eight rounds of fixtures, but Georginho Wijnaldum (£8.0m) is the highest point scoring midfielder in the game (54pts). He has eight goal involvements (5 goals & 3 assists) in 540 minutes and has really flourished in a more attacking role. He faces a Northern Ireland side who will look to hold steady in the face of the imminent departure of their manager.
Eden Hazard (£11.5m) has had a slow start in La Liga, but his last performance was a clear sign that he is beginning to find his feet. Despite not registering a goal or assist in Real Madrid’s 4-0 victory against Eibar, Hazard was in the conversation for Man of the Match and attempted 10 dribbles, seven of which were completed. He will look to carry this confidence onto the International stage.
Best Forwards for Euro Fantasy Round 9
Harry Kane (£12.5m) vs. Montenegro is a clear frontrunner in terms of captaincy in Round 9. He has an incredible goal involvement every 43 minutes for England, which is a total of eight goals and four assists in 520 minutes. He has also racked up 11 bonus points over this period.
Artem Dzuyba (£8.0m) is the only player to have surpassed Kane’s total of 65 points. The towering centre-forward has 14 goal involvements (9 goals & 5 assists) in 696 minutes. Although he will be more confident than ever, breaking down a Belgium defence who are yet to concede an away goal in Group I is a tough task.
There will be plenty of interest in Gareth Bale (£10.5m) once again, though he is apparently playing through the pain barrier with a calf injury, having been ruled out of Real Madrid training. Zidane will not be a happy chappy. I would rather spend that kind of money on Memphis Depay (£10.5m). He is in fantastic form for club and country with seven goals in his last five appearances.
Bruno Petkovic (£6.5m) showed his worth in the Champions League last week with a goal and assist and scored a brace in Croatia’s last home fixture to help them defeat Hungary. Their fixture versus Slovakia will be fiercely contested, though they did hammer them 4-nil in their first meeting in Group E.
Spain will be looking to put on a show versus a Malta side who lost to the Faroe Islands in Round 8 and have conceded 18 goals in their eight qualifying fixtures. Gerard Moreno (£9.5m) has impressed for Villareal this season and played the full 90 minutes in Round 8 for his country.
He’s a gamble at £9.5m, as you will be unable to view the Spain starting line-up before confirming your squad. But remember: if you make sure you have players like Jorginho or Barella ready on the bench, than the risk is lessened. If he does start, he could well be a part of a complete demolition of his Maltese opponents.