Euro 2020 Fantasy Tips | Are Portugal Overlooked?
FFHub’s Deputy Editor @FFH_James looks at the current champions of Europe, Portugal, to discern whether or not we should be giving them more weight when planning our Euro 2020 fantasy teams.
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Euro Fantasy Friendlies: Portugal 4 – 0 Israel
Portugal were impressive in Wednesday night’s friendly against Israel.
Under normal circumstances, the current European champions winning convincingly against a lesser (albeit underestimated) nation wouldn’t be of particular note for fantasy managers. The sun shines, the birds sing, Southgate nails his pre-tournament PR and Portugal beat Israel. All is as it should be in the world.
But these circumstances are far from normal.
Familiar Names at it Again
Firstly, we should acknowledge the players that were involved in the goals. João Cancelo (€6m) (one goal, one assist), Bruno Fernandes (€10.5m) (two goals, one assist) and Cristiano Ronaldo (€12m) (one goal).
For reasons that are hopefully obvious, this roster of goal involvements has titillated Euro 2020 fantasy managers. Many of you will already own at least one of these options, but all three will have undoubtedly made cameos in the teams of Draftmas Past.
Whilst not directly involved in the goals, the hipster fantasy options – like Diogo Jota (€8.5m), Pepe (€5m) and Bernardo Silva (€8.5m) – all started and all played well enough to concern those who either won’t or can’t factor them into their Euro 2020 fantasy line-ups.
The fact that Cancelo and Bruno are already established FPL options shouldn’t be ignored either. Ronaldo’s modest celebrity status also goes some way to explaining his 27% ownership. When weighing up the viability of a fantasy option, reputation often plays a bigger role than it rightly should.
Simply put: the Portuguese fantasy assets we might’ve already written off have just made a case for themselves.
How Important is a win Against Israel?
It would be easy – but folly – to look at the 4-0 scoreline and dismiss it. “It’s only Israel,” croons the choir. “Aren’t they the ones who Scotland beat to qualify?”
It’s true that Scotland did indeed beat Israel to qualify, though not by virtue of scoring more goals than them across 120 minutes of football. Instead they needed penalties to decide their fate.
In fact, since that 0-0 at Hampden Park, Israel have got the better of Scotland, beating them 1-0 in the Nations League a month later.
Their form since then has been a mixed bag. Wins against Montenegro, Moldova and Slovakia have been tinged with defeats at the hands of Denmark and Czech Republic.
One thing is imminently clear from a quick scan of recent results, however: Israel is not an easy team to thrash.
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Are Portugal are Going to win Euro 2020?
So far, this is all looking pretty good for Portugal’s prospects. The team that many thought lacked a clinical edge in front of goal have scored four clinical goals against a historically stubborn defence. Not only that, but they’ve done it 48 hours before Euro 2020 kicks off. Is football really coming casa?
Well, hold your horses.
Portugal haven’t had a great year. As @CoysFPL highlights in his Portugal team review, their results have been “mediocre”. They suffered a scare at the hands of Luxembourg and eked out a 1-0 win against Azerbaijan.
They also drew against a 10-man Serbia.
Can they beat the best?
Whilst none of this is catastrophic, it doesn’t exactly scream “Euro 2020 contenders” either. A hypothesis only compounded by their record against stronger nations.
One doesn’t have to scroll far through the annals of Portugal’s results history to spot a pattern of inadequate results against nations ranked above them in FIFA’s rankings. Indeed, Portugal haven’t beaten one of the great footballing nations since the Euro 2016 final.
That would be fine if Portugal were in the sort of group that the likes of England or Spain have been blessed with. Alas, they’ll have to overcome Nations League foes France (lost one, drew one when they last shared a group) and the ever-dangerous Germany if they’re going to progress to the knockout stages.
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Are Euro 2020 Fantasy Managers Overlooking Portugal?
In a word: no.
Nobody sane has completely written Portugal off, but to prioritise their assets above the likes of the Spanish, Dutch or even (dare I say it) the English, is to overestimate Portugal’s capability of beating the top sides.
The reality is that Portugal have found themselves in a group that includes three title contenders. And Germany (just kidding). If England’s ball rather than Portugal’s had been drawn from the goldfish bowl of fate back in December 2019, would England fans be eyeing up a first major tournament win since ’66?
My guess is that if we had Germany and France to contend with, we would’ve already reconciled ourselves with an early exit.
Portugal, I think, are in the same boat. A strong team, yes, but not one that can be depended upon when the going gets tough.
Back them against Hungary, but make sure you have an exit strategy.
Other Euros Content
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