Euro 2020 tournament differentials - group stages
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MDJ thinks out of the box to summon up some differentials for the group stages of the Euro 2020 tournament.

The FanTeam Euro 2020 tournament is likely to see many teams following a similar template in the group stages, as there are some clear stand-out picks for each position. If you want your team to have an edge, choosing the right differentials will be key. 

In a multi-gameweek tournament, managing your budget is important too and most of the players below are cheaper than the more obvious options and should appreciate in value if they perform as well as expected. 

The players below are my best differential options for the beginning of the tournament. Remember that you have a wildcard to play after the group stage so you don’t need to consider whether your players will make it through to the latter stages at this point. You also have a free transfer to use in gameweeks two and three, if you wish.

The recent changes to the FanTeam scoring matrix bring some different tactics into play too, making attacking players more valuable, even if the team they’re playing for is unlikely to grind out results. You can give yourself a further edge by considering the best rotation pattern for cheap assets during the group stage (check out this fantastic article from FPL Raptor if you haven’t already:

Defender: Denzel Dumfries £5.5m (Netherlands)

The Netherlands have been handed one of the easier groups and should have no trouble progressing to the latter stages.They were solid in qualifying, scoring 24 goals and conceding only seven, and their form since has been pretty good, even if most would acknowledge this isn’t the strongest Dutch side to enter an international tournament.

The squad boasts some attacking full backs who are likely to play a key role in the Dutch attacking play. Owen Wijndal (£5.5m) is worth considering but his position in the starting eleven isn’t completely assured, whereas Dumfries is the only out-and-out right back so should be a nailed-on starter and comes in a fraction cheaper than the other nailed-on starters. 

Dumfries is a regular on the scoresheet for PSV but has struggled to find the net for the Dutch, although he did chip in with some assists during the Nations League last year. Against favourable opposition, he should be good for a couple of clean sheets in the group stages and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rack up some additional points for goal involvement too. 

Defender: Kamil Glik £4.5m (Poland)

Poland are perennial underperformers in big tournaments but are fancied to make it out of the group, despite some patchy form recently. They come into the Euros with one of the most miserly defences in the whole tournament, with only five goals conceded in qualifying and seven clean sheets in 10 games. This makes their backline well worth considering for the games against Slovakia (gameweek one) and Sweden (gameweek three). 

Glik stands out for his aerial ability and as a key player in the team. As a centre back, he’s unlikely to take many shots on goal or get involved with the forward play but he’s averaged around two goals per season domestically and has six goals for Poland so could pose a threat at set pieces. Even if you choose to keep him for bench coverage, I think he’s good value in a solid team at just £4.5m and might even be good enough to make your starting line up for the opener against Slovakia (gameweek one).

Defender: Zeki Çelik £4.0m (Turkey)

Turkey look fairly solid and should progress from the group stage, especially if their defence can regain the form they showed in qualifying where they conceded only three goals in 10 matches (the fewest in the competition), admittedly against some relatively poor opposition. At other times, they’ve been a little inconsistent, for example beating the Netherlands recently in a World Cup qualifier but only managing a draw against Latvia.

If they can pull it together, the Turkish backline looks underpriced, particularly Zeki Çelik, the right-back who recently won the league with Lille in France. He looks likely to start and should provide some threat down the wing. He scored three goals and assisted two for Lille last season and has netted twice for Turkey in friendlies but is yet to score or assist for them in competitive matches.

£4.0m is the lowest price in the game so I think he’s worth considering as your fifth defender, particularly if you think Turkey will do enough to progress from the group.

Midfielder: Lorenzo Insigne £8.0m (Italy)

Italy are one of the favourites for the tournament with a wealth of solid assets to choose from. With many people looking to double-up on Italian defenders, and then perhaps turning their attention to Immobile (£9.0m) and Chiesa (£8.0m) for goals, Lorenzo Insigne could be easily overlooked - a mistake in my opinion.

Insigne has been on good form for Napoli, scoring 19 goals in the league, and has usually managed to carry that form over for Italy, unlike Immobile, whose international form has been a bit more questionable. Insigne scored three goals and nabbed one assist in the four qualifying games he started and is also on set pieces which adds to his appeal. 

Italy have a good chance of returns in all three group stage matches so picking Insigne early could not only lock in some points for your team but may also protect you against future price rises, if Italy progress to the next stage of the competition as expected.

Midfielder: Nikola Vlašić £7.5m (Croatia)

There are a dizzying number of viable options in midfield in the Euros tournament game and I can see a lot of people lining up with five midfielders to try to squeeze out as many points as possible, particularly those that will rack up points for attacking actions. 

You may remember Vlašić as being a bit of a flop at Everton but his subsequent move to CSKA Moscow has been a huge success and he was named footballer of the year in Russia last December. In last year’s Nations League games, he scored two goals in six games, plus an assist, and averaged two shots per game. 

Croatia’s opener against England is likely to be their most difficult game in the group stage and Vlašić has every chance of grabbing a goal or two in the remaining two games against the Czech Republic and Scotland. 

Midfielder: Hakan Çalhanoğlu £5.5m (Turkey)

Turkey look like they could be the dark horses of the competition this time, with a squad that has the potential to be more than the sum of its parts. Çalhanoğlu is a key player for Turkey and is constantly pushing forward in attack. He’s also on set pieces - both free kicks and corners - which maximises his chance of attacking returns.

At 27 years old, he’s in his prime and has probably just had his best-ever season domestically for AC Milan, with 21 goal involvements in 43 games. This mirrors his international returns - 23 goal involvements in 56 games since his debut in 2013, and averaging two or three shots per game.

Çalhanoğlu’s contract with AC Milan expires at the end of June so the Euros are likely to function as a shop window for him. If Turkey hit the ground running, you can almost guarantee attacking returns and I think he’s seriously underpriced at £5.5m.

Forward: Gerard Moreno £8.0m (Spain)

A prolific striker, playing for the one of the favourites to win the competition in a reasonably favourable group, and only £8.0m - sounds like a no-brainer, right?

There is, of course, a catch. Moreno is not an absolute certainty to start, facing stiff competition from Álvaro Morata (£10.0m). He hasn’t started a game for Spain since November. If he does play though, he’s an absolute steal for his price so he’s definitely one to keep in mind for an early transfer in, if you aren’t brave enough to go with him from the start.

With 23 goals and 7 assists for Villarreal this season, Moreno finished third top scorer in La Liga and is in the best form of his career, meaning his making a good case to be named in the starting eleven. His international experience is more limited than Morata, with only 10 senior games under his belt, but he sparkled in the qualifiers with three goals and four assists in just three games. If he’s trusted to lead the line in the group stages, he could be an interesting dark horse for the Golden Boot if Spain do progress all the way to the final. 

Forward: Artem Dzyuba £5.5m (Russia)

Russia haven’t got the easiest run in the group stage, with free-scoring Belgium and steadfast Denmark in their group, but if anything can push them through, it’ll be the influence of their captain Dzyuba.

Top scorer for Zenit in the Russian Premier League, Dzyuba has no problem finding the back of the net internationally either, with nine goals and five assists across the 10 qualifying games. He averages three shots per game and is on penalties too, which is a big bonus in the first Euros with VAR. 

Dzyuba will need to be on top form to breach the defences in Group B but for £5.5m he’s well worth considering for your third forward spot, and looks a good option for the Finland game in particular (gameweek two)

Forward: Alexander Isak £5.5m (Sweden)

Sweden are facing up to life at the Euros without their talisman, the age-defying Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been ruled out through injury. Despite the obvious blow to the team, this could perhaps be a chance for a new star to emerge and Alexander Isak looks the most likely to pick up that mantle.

Isak is only 21 years old but made his senior debut over four years ago. Despite fairly limited minutes on the pitch, he’s managed six goals in 21 games for Sweden so far and comes into the Euros off the back of a good domestic season for Real Sociedad where he scored 17 goals, one of the best in La Liga.

Sweden will be up against it to qualify in a group containing Spain and Poland but Isak is used to playing in a team with low possession stats that relies on the counter-attack so this could actually play to his strengths. The Slovakia game (gameweek two) will also be a great opportunity for him to show what he can do.

Football mad female, long-suffering fantasy football player.

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