Here’s another of our Euro 2020 Fantasy Previews where FFGeek Contributor Rob Reid analyses the Czech Republic including looking at the best player options
Euro 2020 Fantasy Previews – Rob Reid Analyses The Czech Republic And Denmark
We’ll be doing a load of articles for the Euro 2020 fantasy here. Here’s the link to the site
There’s a FFGeek league use the league code 49KWOPI907 to copy and paste into the join league section
Also see my article on the rules
Overall Bookies Odds – 125/1Group Odds – 9/1
Fixtures to target – Scotland (MD1)
The Czech Republic have a strong history in the European Championships qualifying for all 7 tournaments since the dissolution of the old Czechoslovakia, finishing runner-up to Germany in 1996 and reaching the semi-finals in 2004. Karel Poborsky’s audacious scoop lob in the quarter-finals of Euro 96 is one of the iconic moments in modern European Championship history although prior to this Antonin Panenka’s audacious penalty in a Euro 1976 final win for Czechoslovakia is probably the old country’s most famous footballing event.
This time around, expectations possibly aren’t so high but they have a settled side and have players in good from in their domestic leagues. Patrik Schick comes off the back of 2 good seasons in the Bundesliga after an unsettled spell at Roma, young defensive midfielder Alex Kral has settled well at Spartak Moscow and FPL managers all know about the talents of West Ham dup Soucek and Coufal. Will they be able to escape a challenging group for another crack at the knockout stages?
Qualification, form and playing style
I’ve seen the Czechs a few times over the past couple of years in their games against the home nations and what I’ve seen has been a real mixed bag. They were soundly thumped 5-0 by England at Wembley, and yet played really well in the reverse fixture in inflict England’s only defeat in the group. They were also poor away to Wales back in March and yet 3 days before had played well in holding Belgium at home. I’ve also seen them play Scotland twice.
In the first game at Hampden they really should have got at least a point; they dominated this game for significant spells and Tomas Soucek missed a gilt-edged chance from a corner. I would however discount the relevance of Scotland’s 2-1 win in the reverse fixture. The Czechs had to field their entire reserve squad due to Covid issues and even then, they should really have beaten the Scots that night.
In terms of qualification, as just mentioned the Czechs finished runners-up to England in Group A but surprisingly lost away to Kosovo and Bulgaria during the course of this. They only kept 2 clean sheets (both against bottom side Montenegro) and were hardly prolific scoring 13 goals in their 8 matches with 6 of those in the 2 Montenegro games. Their warm-up games haven’t started well either – they may have fielded an understrength line-up, but a 4-0 thumping away to Italy is hardly going to do their confidence any favours.
Coach Jaroslav Silhavy had a lot of sucess domestically with Slovan Liberec and Slavia Prague and favours 4-2-3-1 with an aggressive hard-working high press. Their issue for me in the games I’ve seen them in has been their central defence – they are competitive physically, but look error-prone and not as capable as working the ball out into the midfield.
The other logistical issue for the Czechs are their struggles away from home and with 2 of the 3 matches in their group effectively away games, this may count against them. Their opening match against Scotland is key and if they get a win here, I can see them having the momentum to turn Croatia over in MD2 before their Wembley visit in MD3.
In terms of predicting their line-up, Vaclik should start in goals with Coufal and Celustka looking certainties in defence, though left-back and the second centre-half choice look uncertain. Soucek and Kral should form the defensive 2 in midfield with Darida almost certain to start in the 10 role behind Schick. Predicting the wide men is trickier – Jakub Jantko should play on the left, but I’m not sure who will come in for injured Provod on the right.
FPL managers will immediately be drawn to Tomas Soucek (6.5m). He operates in a similar role for his country as he does for West Ham but does still like to get forward from the defensive midfield role and is a threat at set pieces. Indeed, he netted a hat-trick in a recent 6-2 win over Estonia! I think he is reasonable value compared to others in that price point, but a jump up in price does get you more attacking threat amongst the other nations.
The pick of the higher-priced Czech players I think is Patrik Schick (8.0m). He has 10 goals and 5 assists in 25 games for his country and has a good club record with Bayer Leverkusen this season and Leipzig and Sampdoria prior to this. Playmaker Vladimir Darida (7.5m) may also draw some managers in as their likely penalty taker, but his international record is more modest (8 goals and 9 assists in 71 games.)
Defensively, their record in qualifying and recent games makes them an avoid for me. The game to target for this would be Scotland in MD1, but for me there are better Clean Sheet options at equivalent prices amongst other countries for this MD.
Overall Bookies Odds – 25/1Group Odds – 15/8
Fixtures to target – Finland MD1, Russia MD3
While many people consider Greece winning Euro 2004 to be the greatest Euros shock of all time, I cast my mind back further to Euro 92. Denmark weren’t even supposed to be there – shoehorned in at the last minute as a replacement for a highly talented Yugoslavia team whose nation was being sadly ripped apart by war. And boy did the Danes take their opportunity! They qualified out of a tough group containing hosts Sweden, France and England.
They then turned over the Netherlands on penalties in the semi-finals thanks to Peter Schmeichel keeping out Marco Van Basten’s pen, before shocking the continent by defeating World Champions Germany 2-0 in the final and sending the nation into raptures
For a small nation, their Euro 92 success represents a massive achievement and more recently their tournament performances have been more modest – they failed to qualify for Euro 2016, but did reach the knock-outs in the 2018 World Cup. For me, I really like this current Danish team and I think they are dark horses in this tournament. With their 3 group games at home, I would not be surprised to see them go deep into the knock-out rounds, though the final may prove a step too far.
Qualification, form and playing style
Denmark were unbeaten in qualifying, though were pipped to the Group D win by Switzerland. Denmark won the home game against their main group rivals 1-0 and the reverse was an entertaining 3-3 draw, as the Danes came from 3-0 in equalise in the 93rd minute. They also dropped points in both games against Ireland (which were both 1-1 draws) and were surprisingly held to a goalless draw away to Georgia. More recently though, they have impressively defeated England at Wembley in the Nations League and they begun their World Cup Qualifiers well, winning all 3 games with an aggregate of 14-0 including a 4-0 trouncing of Austria in Vienna. Their most recent warm-up games have been a creditable 1-1 versus Germany and a routine 2-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, with significant rotation present in the second match to give players game time.
Their system tends to flex between a 3-4-3 and a 4-3-3 depending on the opposition, with the talismanic Christain Eriksen’s position of note in each variation. In what the coach considers to be the 3-4-3 Eriksen tends to play as a classic 10 in what looks more like a 3-4-1-2, whereas in the 4-3-3 he is more conventional centre-midfielder in a system that reverts to look more like a 4-2-3-1 when the team is defending.
As for a likely line-up, Schmeichel is a sure starter in goals and Simon Kjaer of Milan will likely be partnered by Andreas Christensen of Chelsea, though Vestegaard provides competition here. Wass and Maehle are both very versatile full-backs/wingers who I’d expect to start with Hojberg and Delaney providing solidity in centre midfield to allow Eriksen the freedom he craves. I would expect the front 3 to be Braithwaite, Wind and Poulsen though there may be competition from Dolberg and Olsen.
It’s probably best to start with Denmark’s talisman – midfielder Christian Eriksen (9.0m). He’s not been in the best form domestically for Internazionale (3 goals, no assists in 26 games this season) but his international record is great. 36 goals and 24 assists in 107 internationals added to fact that he’s on set-pieces and penalties makes him a very attractive pick for their MD1 fixture against outsiders Finland. As for their other attacking players – I really like young striker Jonas Wind (6.0m). He’s fairly green at international level, but has 3 goals and an assist in his 6 caps and an attractive price tag. The other main attackers, Yussef Poulsen (8.0m) and Martin Braithwaite (7.5m) both look a little over-priced – Leipzig’s Poulsen has the marginally better international record but I feel there are better picks in this category and price point.
Denmark are listed as one of the favourites for a clean sheet in MD1 (alongside Italy, Spain and Austria) and they have a number of attractive assets in the goalkeeper and defender categories. Leicester stopper Kasper Schmeichel (5.0m) is a sure starter as is the keenly priced Simon Kjaer (4.5m) in the defender group. I am most drawn though to Atalanta full-back Joakim Maehle (4.5m) – he has 2 goals and an assist in his 9 caps and although he comes with a slight selection risk, I think the prospect of attacking returns makes him well worth a punt.