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Thursday 21st Sep 2017

The 2016 UEFA European Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2016, starts this Friday, June 10. The first stage group game will see France square off with Romania at the Stade de France near Paris. Twenty-four nations are competing, which means that there are plenty of choices for your ideal fantasy lineup. Or, perhaps too many players to choose from? Let’s whittle this down to a few key contributors.

Goalkeepers: As baseball pitchers’ stats depend on the defending ability of teammates, a soccer team’s defense is instrumental to a goalkeeper’s performance. The Italian defense, entirely made of Juventus players, is very good, hence Gian Luigi Buffon is the first choice. My second goalkeeper was going to be David de Gea, who has greatly contributed to Manchester United reaching Europa League this year, but it appears that Spain will go with the old hand Iker Casillas, who I trust less. Let’s then take Croatian Danijel Subasic, who, playing for Monaco, will be essentially on home turf.

Defenders: Of the three pillars of the capable Italian defense, I would go with two: Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci. The third, Giorgio Chiellini, was too often injured this past spring to rely upon. For the additional defenders, look at Darijo Srna, Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna. They all know how to send balls into the opponents’ area for those assist points and do not play for Spanish teams. In other words, they are probably not overly expensive.   

Midfielders: The key here is to pick players who know how to deliver goal assists, that is send that final pass, cross, header or shot, which leads to the goal being scored. I suggest that we are mindful of the salary cap when choosing midfielders because the points accumulated by this category are the most difficult to forecast. That said, if you have done your budget right, it is impossible not to own the very expensive Kevin De Bruyne (who may also be classified as a forward) or Paul Pogba. Mid-priced midfielders to consider are Hakan Calhanoglu from Turkey, Julian Draxler (my top choice) and Toni Kroos form Germany, Radja Nainggolan, and Axel Witsel from Belgium.

Forwards: This is where we all end up running out of money, scratch our heads and go back to tweak our teams to fit under the salary cap. That’s just the nature of the beast. You have money for Cristiano Ronaldo? Go for him! He is a sure thing. That said, I do not think that I would provide any valuable service by listing the most famous names. You know who they are. Instead, let’s take a look at some less expensive forwards who may do well in the tournament: Jamie Vardy from the surprising Leicester City, Nikola Kalinic from Croatia, Robbie Keane, who is now with LA Galaxy, Romelu Lukaku from Belgium (who may not be that inexpensive after all), Marcus Berg from Sweden and Artem Dzyuba from Russia.

Note that DraftKings features several leagues that are waiting for your lineups.

Follow Pasko on Twitter @varnica123. His articles about sports in ancient Roman times can be found at www.SportsInAntiquity.com.

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