And now there are eight. The 2016 UEFA European Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2016, completed the Round of 16 yesterday. Starting this coming Thursday, 6/30, one quarterfinal game will be played each day through Sunday. The remaining eight nations are Poland, Wales, Portugal, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and, wait for it, Iceland, after they surprisingly eliminated England. England exited the Euro 2016! Sorry, could not resist.
Although at this point of the tournament, it is wise to ignore all prior scores, we must look at the future match-ups to select players for our fantasy team. Poland and Portugal square off Thursday. Cristiano Ronaldo and his team are getting better by the day. We should consider Portuguese players. Friday’s Wales vs. Belgium game is a toss-up, which means that both teams may concentrate on playing more in their own area than in the attack. I would avoid this contest. Italian adventure in Euro 2016 will end Saturday; Germany is just that strong. The last game played on Sunday sees France facing Iceland. Even if Iceland has a strong hold on the role of Cinderella, I cannot see them prevailing over France. We should include as many German and French players as the salary cap allows.
Goalkeepers: Two out of three of my favorite goalkeepers were eliminated. My top choice, Gian Luigi Buffon, is still in it and no ball has shaken his net yet. That may change against Germany. Therefore, I am going with Benoit Costil from France and Manuel Neuer from the German team.
Defenders: Hard to believe, but nobody has scored against Germany yet. France allowed one goal plus a penalty kick. Portugal kept Croatia in check. Let’s get a combination of defenders from these three teams. From Germany, I suggest Shkodran Mustafi and Mats Hummels; from France, Bacary Sagna and Patrice Evra; from Portugal, Raphaël Guerreiro and Pepe, who plays for Real Madrid.
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. The German midfield is very strong. See if you can fit under the salary cap a couple of German players out of these four names: Toni Kroos, Mesut Özil, Julian Draxler or Bastian Schweinsteiger. Renato Sanchez from Portugal was elected the best player on the pitch in the game against Croatia and he is worth a spot on your team. Paul Pogba from France should do well against Iceland.
Forwards: For the first time in this tournament, I am going to suggest the name of Cristiano Ronaldo, his high salary notwithstanding. Belgium scored four times against Hungary and Romelu Lukaku was left dry. I think that his turn will come when Belgium meets Wales. Antoine Griezmann of France scored twice against Ireland. A repeat against Iceland? If not Griezmann, then consider the very capable Olivier Giroud. I think that the good Italian defense will muzzle Germany’s centerfielder, Mario Gomez, but that will leave Thomas Muller and André Schürrle to show what they can do, and they can cause lots of damage. Try to place on your roster either one or both of them.
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.