Every player involved in the Euro 2020 fantasy football game has been given opportunity to change their entire squad for free with a wildcard being provided at the end of the group stages.
The decision made here before the knockout rounds begin could be the key difference between a winning and losing manager.
For those that have already used their wildcard chip in the group stage, decisions will need to be made with the latter rounds in mind. If not, then the opportunity to trial some players in the last 16 of sides who could get big wins but not go far is an option.
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Netherlands had a brilliant group stage winning all three matches against Austria, Ukraine and North Macedonia and by far one of their standout players was Memphis Depay.
The former Lyon man has now signed on a free transfer to Barcelona and will line-up alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) June 20, 2021
However, he has very much been the main man for the Oranje and has has the third highest points haul after Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick of the tournament.
He has earned 20 points from the 237 minutes played, 2 goals and 2 assists.
Netherlands play the Czech Republic and should they win that, the winner of Wales and Denmark. Other Dutch honourable mentions include Gini Wijnaldum and Denzel Dumfries.
Going into the tournament much was expected of Karim Benzema to be the man to carry the French front line to a strong group finish.
However, he was unable to take his chances in the first two games leaving Les Bleus in peril as they went into the final group match against Portugal of finishing as low as 3rd in the group.
However, a penalty and a fine strike from the Real Madrid man meant that Didier Deschamps team did indeed finish as group winners.
It counts for Karim Benzema!
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) June 23, 2021
Benzema could now have come into form at the perfect time for France as they progress into the last 16. His 14 points so far in the tournament have a real chance improve as they play Switzerland.
France would then play the winner of Spain and Croatia and with Benzema confirmed to be the nation’s penalty taker, it makes sense for him to be a good pick.
Other notable options are the mercurial Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann who have both started with Benzema in each game.
The man who every English supporter wanted to see play in the final group match against the Czech Republic did indeed start and was pivotal in the 1-0 win for England.
Aston Villa talisman Jack Grealish provided the cross for Raheem Sterling to score England the only goal of the game.
The assist king … and #ENG lead!
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 22, 2021
Both he and Bukayo Saka gave England much needed energy, pace and creativity. Grealish’s ability to win so many free kicks in dangerous positions is an attribute few in the game have.
After the performance, and with Mason Mount just coming out of self isolation, he is likely to be in with another chance to start against Germany in the last 16. Yes England have a tough opponent, but should they get past the Germans their run looks favourable with the winner of Sweden vs Ukraine waiting in the quarter finals.
Other notable options are Harry Kane, despite his early struggles, he has always the potential to explode and Sterling. The Manchester City man may not be the most popular amongst the fans but he is certainly the pick of Southgate at this stage.
Italy look like one of the most threatening prospects at the whole tournament having eased their way through a group containing Wales, Switzerland and Turkey.
With Euro 2020 being the first opportunity for Italian striker Ciro Immobile to stamp his boot on a major international tournament he has wasted little time.
2 goals, 2 assists and a bonus point for a strike outside the box has his total on 16 from the 3 games.
Immobile gets his goal
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 16, 2021
Whilst an unused sub in the final match against Wales, he is now fully rested and ready to take on Austria in the last 16.
Austria have conceded 3 goals in 3 games and do look susceptible, especially when David Alaba roams forwards out of defence.
Andrea Belotti’s show against Wales will not have convinced Roberto Mancini to drop the Lazio man and Immobile will be hoping to take the Azzurri into the quarter finals.
Lorenzo Insigne and Domenico Berardi who flank him are two other notable options from the 2006 World Cup winners.
Romelu Lukaku or Cristiano Ronaldo
Finishing off the list is yet another pair of strikers. Belgium have arguably the trickiest opposition of any of the last 16 sides in Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo will be awaiting Romelu Lukaku and co and their Serie A top scorer rivalry will recommence.
Lukaku has 3 goals in 3 games, compared to Ronaldo’s 5 (plus an assist).
Despite the odds stacked against Ronaldo at times, he always seems to have the ability to score goals. 3 penalties this tournament and two tap ins from open play against France, Germany and Hungary show his unsurprising ability to score against anyone.
Lukaku’s dominant displays have seen him bully defenders and power strikes past opposition keepers.
The choice between the two is effectively made by the decision over which side is expected to win. One can imagine whoever will come out on top will be much thanks to their talismanic figures.