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Sunday 24th Sep 2017

The 2016 UEFA European Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2016, has completed the Group Stage and the Round of 16 begins later this week. Three games will be played on Saturday, 6/25, three the following day and two on Monday. Eight games, sixteen teams, 176 players, a lot to choose from, but only the crème de la creme deserves to be on a fantasy team. Let’s see who these players are.

Goalkeepers: As I said in my last article about Euro 2016 posted here on June 7, there are three goalkeepers worth your money. All have advanced to the next round. The top choice is Gianluigi Buffon, who will face the same Spain team that eliminated Italy twice. That said, Spain lost to Croatia in the last group stage game. Is Spain still a powerhouse of a few years back? Is Alvaro Morata, with three goals the last two games and on his way back to Real Madrid, likely to score against his old Juventus teammate Buffon? Intriguing questions. Spain-Italy is a very interesting matchup. David de Gea is my second suggestion mainly because I am not high on the Italian attack prowess. Last but not least is Croatian Danijel Subasic. Subasic blocked five of the last seven penalty kicks and is at a smaller salary than Buffon.

Defenders: Most Euro 16 contests have been low-scoring games. We must review the group stage games to find the best defense. Nobody scored against Germany; France allowed one goal; no goals were scored against Italy when the team was at full strength. From Germany, I suggest Shkodran Mustafi and the very strong Mats Hummels. From France, Bacary Sagna and Patrice Evra. From Italy, there's the usual duo of Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci. Croatia has impressed me enough to bring Sime Vrsaljko to your attention.

Midfielders: Remember that the key here is to pick players who know how to deliver goal assists, that is sending that final pass, cross, header or shot which leads to a goal being scored. Croatian midfielders Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic fully deserve our admiration and a spot on our team. The German midfield is very strong and will face a mediocre Slovakia team. See if you can fit a couple of German players under the salary cap: Toni Kroos, Mesut Özil, Julian Draxler or Bastian Schweinsteiger. From Wales, a team that should not be underestimated, I am going with Aaron Ramsey.

Forwards: It seems that this is the Leicester City year, because its center-forward Jamie Vardy keeps scoring for England. Actually, anyone from England should be a good pick, considering that the opponent is lowly Iceland. Is Robert Lewandowski ever going to score for Poland? He is going Saturday against a stingy Swiss team. Let’s leave him and his high salary on the bench and put our money on Gareth Bale, who scored twice and may carry Wales beyond the Round of 16. Let me point out Ivan Perisic from Croatia. His team will face Portugal. From what I have seen so far, I prefer Perisic and Mario Mandzukic to Cristiano Ronaldo’s high salary. One more name: Belgium will face Hungary, which suggests that Romelu Lukaku may do well.

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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