Euro 2024 Fantasy: Matchday 5 Scout Picks | Quarter-finals

We’ve put together our Scout Picks for Matchday 5 of Euro 2024 Fantasy, aka the quarter-finals of the tournament.

This is essentially a ‘Free Hit’ XV for Matchday 5 only, with no thought given to later rounds.

We get an increased budget of €105m and can also select five players from one nation.

GOALKEEPERS + DEFENDERS

We’ve had at least five clean sheets, and an average of 6.5, in every Matchday so far.

Now, though, it’s the business end of the tournament. The match-ups are closer to call. Even the bookmakers’ favourites for shutouts in Matchday 5, the Netherlands and England, are up against the joint-third highest-scoring teams of the tournament.

That’s why we’ve gone for five defenders who are capable of producing tidy returns even if the clean sheets fall.

Antonio Rudiger (€5.5m), Pepe (€5.0m) and Manuel Akanji (€5.0m) in particular are ball recovery machines. They play for the perceived underdogs in their respective quarter-final ties, although there’s precious little in it (especially Spain v Germany) and you would not be surprised if all three of their countries progressed.

Ball recoveries Ball recovery points
Rudiger 33 10
Pepe 30 9
Akanji 29 9

Jules Kounde (€5.0m) and Virgil van Dijk (€6.0m) are not far behind the trio above, on 25 and 23 ball recoveries respectively.

Kounde is also the leading defender for chances created at the European Championship, while van Dijk is unbeaten among players in his Fantasy position for shots in the box. Turkey, who the Dutch face next, allowed eight headed chances in their win over Austria. That was over half of their overall total for attempts conceded.

Which brings us to our two goalkeepers, Jordan Pickford (€5.0m) and Unai Simon (€5.5m).

England and Spain are the joint-best sides for fewest big chances conceded, not that hopes are particularly high for shut-outs from either side.

They do, at least, play on alternative days, so should Simon flop then Pickford comes in.

The absence of Marc Guehi (€4.6m), who is even ahead of Rudiger for ball recoveries, made it easier to go with the England goalkeeper.

MIDFIELDERS

Euro 2024 Fantasy: Bellingham's poor stats +

The midfield selection was tricky this week. You would not be surprised if defensive midfielders come to the fore in scrappier, high-stakes affairs, with the likes of N’Golo Kante (€6.0m) and Rodri  (€6.5m) adding to their Player of the Match collections.

Ultimately, though, most of those midfield anchors don’t recover balls at the same rate as the defenders behind them. Kante and Rodri, for instance, have less than a third of the recovery points that Rudiger has amassed.

It’s for that reason that we’ll continue to throw our lot in with more attacking assets for Matchday 5.

Jude Bellingham (€9.5m) is one of them, albeit playing for an England side with the handbrake on. He’s had just three shots all tournament, indeed, so he’s been fortunate to score twice. But there are suggestions that Gareth Southgate is to rip up the playbook for this one, opting for a wing-back system against the Swiss. Bellingham is expected to retain his number 10 role within that. The Player of the Match committee love him. So does Southgate, who has given Bellingham at least 86 minutes in every match so far. Those game-time guarantees are another string to his bow.

Xavi Simons (€7.0m) is more of a gamble. But he comes into the match against Turkiye off the back of his best display of the summer. Two shots, three chances created and seven penalty box touches arrived from the ‘10’ role against Romania, where he looked more effective than he did on the right flank prior to that.

Turkiye are the only quarter-finalists without a clean sheet to their name. They also have conceded, by some distance, the highest number of big chances and expected goals. It’s for that reason why we’re willing to punt on Simons.

Spain are the best attacking side of the tournament so far. Most shots, big chances, highest xG. Germany will be their toughest test yet but based on what we saw against Italy and Croatia, Luis de la Fuente won’t be compromising on those principles.

The issue is always minutes with Spain, as de la Fuente has a predilection for using his squad and making early-ish substitutions. But Fabian Ruiz (€6.5m) and Neco Williams (€7.0m) were sensationally good against Georgia. The pair delivered a combined 12 shots and six chances created, both hauling in a 4-1 win. They won’t get the same space as they did in the last 16 but even against Italy, they joined forces for five goal attempts and seven chances created.

The fifth midfield slot was the one we chewed on more than any other. Arda Guler (€5.9m) was in the mix, as were Granit Xhaka (€6.0m), Ruben Vargas (€6.0m) and Declan Rice (€6.5m). There’s always Germany’s array of options, too, but we’ve included a forward from the hosts instead.

Ultimately we went with representation from the Portugal attack, having overlooked the veteran greedy guts up front. And might CR7’s penalty miss see Bruno Fernandes (€9.0m) get a look-in from the spot? The Portuguese playmaker is another 90-minute man who won’t be taken off by his manager. He’s capable of collecting ball recoveries when he drops deep, too, as well as being the creative central hub.

FORWARDS

Kai Havertz (€7.5m) and Kylian Mbappe (€11.0m) haven’t scored from open play yet.

But both are on penalty-taking duties for their respective countries. They are also racking up the chances. Only the similarly profligate Cristiano Ronaldo (€10.0m) has had more shots than these two (15 apiece). No one has had more shots in the box (13 each). Madness to expect a different outcome and the goals to finally flow? Or keep faith in those good old underlying numbers? The absence of too many form forwards elsewhere makes it a slightly easier decision.

Cody Gakpo (€7.5m) is one of those. One of just two forwards to hit double figures for both chances created and shots, the joint-top goal scorer of Euro 2024 is captaincy material on Saturday.

SCOUT PICKS TEAM CAPTAINCY SCHEDULE

  • Friday 5 July: Williams
  • Saturday 6 July: Gakpo

MATCHDAY 5: SCOUT PICKS