Dream Team Euros bosses need to realise that transfer management is absolutely crucial from now on.
Blow your load too fast and you risk being left with only three players active from semi-finals onward, powerless to react as you get leapfrogged in your mini-league at the last moment by your smug mate thanks to an Alvaro Morata own goal – or something.
Conversely, failure to act appropriately now could also work against you. If your XI isn’t suitable for the knockout stage then your returns will be limited.
Before we get into some specific recommendations, let’s go over some basic principles.
Firstly, make sure you team is tailored to the fixtures. There’s no point having loads of Belgium and Portugal players in your team because they’re up against each other this Sunday.
Some crossover is fine – Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku is a strong combiantion – but there’s no point having Ruben Dias, Pepe, Kevin De Bruyne and Lukaku because if one pair succeed the other are likely to fail.
Not only that, one of the teams will be going home so too much investment in this fixture will require wholesale changes before the quarters – a similar thing applies to England v Germany.
Secondly, and by extension, you will have to be bold.
There’s no value in playing it safe by hedging your bets all over the shop. Look at the fixtures and judge which teams are likely to progress.
Italy, France and Netherlands all have favourable round of 16 fixtures with the latter also looking at a reasonable quarter-final match-up if you get there.
Nothing is guaranteed of course, that’s the beauty of major tournaments and football in general. You should enough transfers to react to the odd surprise result comfortably as long as you call the majority of the outcomes correctly.
Again, there’s little to be gained from having John Stones, Luke Shaw, Kai Havertz and Serge Gnabry – be bold and pick a side.
Thirdly, think long-term.
Whisper is quietly but the winner of England v Germany will have a favourable route to the final – the same can be said of Netherlands.
The second half of the bracket is noticeably weaker (and therefore more predictable in theory) than the first – your XI should probably reflect this.
Okay, here’s three example transfers applying the logic of our basic principles.
OUT: Ruben Dias (£5m), IN: Presnel Kimpembe (£4m)
The FWA Footballer of the Year was imperious for Man City but Portugal fans will be concerned that their supposedly solid side conceded six goals in the group stage.
Lukaku and De Bruyne is arguably the most fearsome double act at the tournament and so a clean sheet looks unlikely for Dias this weekend.
France are much more likely to repel Switzerland and Kimpembe has played every minute for Les Bleus so far – this swap will also give you £1m to invest elsewhere.
OUT: Harry Kane (£7m), IN: Memphis Depay (£4.5m)
Talk about pulling the ripcord.
This transfer comes with risk as England’s captain is the kind of player who can pull a brace out of nowhere no matter his form.
But with Gareth Southgate employing caution and the Three Lions facing a tough test in the form of Germany, the logical decision would be to target Netherlands’ potential double header of Czech Republic and Wales/Denmark.
The Oranje’s tattooed talisman has two goals and an assist to his name – accounting for most his 26 points – the same total as Lukaku at this stage.
OUT: Thibaut Courtois (£4.0m), IN: Hugo Lloris (£4.0m)/Jordan Pickford (£3.5m)
Even if Belgium’s keeper avoids the Ronaldo treatment in the round of 16 what are the odds he keeps his sheet clean against (what we assume will be) Italy in the quarters?
Courtois, Thomas Meunier and co were excellent defensive options for the group stage but the schedule has turned on them in a big way.
France’s likely route seems far less stressful before the semis so Lloris seems like a smart replacement.
Alternatively, go with the more patriotic option of England’s No1.
The Three Lions and Italy are the only two teams yet to concede a goal at Euro 2020 and if Gareth Southgate’s men can squeeze past Germany then Pickford could be a lock-in for whole tournament!