Just one day to go until the big kickoff. A month of international frenzy and new stars will be upon us – but let’s make sure we have our Euro Fantasy 2012 squads in order first. We’ve previewed Groups A and B, so now let’s dive into Group C:
Group C [Spain, Italy, Croatia, Ireland]
Spain: We’re previewing each group in order of favorites, so Spain obviously comes first in Group C. Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 champions. We are in the midst of a golden era. No David Villa is perhaps a worry, but Jordi Alba – who comes in priced at 6.5M and could earn a starting birth, and Iniesta / Xavi (9.5m each) are obviously potential studs. Up front it’s Spain’s goal shy strikeforce – either Torres, Negredo or Llorente – but your guess is as good as mine. Spain should reach the knockout stages with a clean sheet or two, though repeating as Euro champions may be one step too much this time around. No side has ever retained the European Championship title after winning the previous edition.
Italy: Cesare Prandelli has a highly talented squad, and despite the Italy match fixing probe, should be confident and aiming to qualify out of this group. Federico Balzaretti looks like the starting left back and at 5.5m he could be quite the Italian defensive bargain. Balotelli (8.5m) and Cassano (8m) have the explosive personalities and explosive attacking games to score a few here and there, but they don’t come cheap. De Rossi, at 9m, should start in midfield, but also should be avoided due to his high price.
Croatia: Modric (7.5m) and Srna (7m) are the star midfielders in a team that is deep, and always looks good on paper, but may find the going tough this summer with such a talented set of opponents. Up front, everyone will look to Everton’s star man Jelavic (5m) as a bargain option, but his international goalscoring success rate is not something to write home about – he has only 2 goals in 19 games for his country. Mario Mandzukic is classified as a midfielder (6m) in the Fantasy McDonald’s Game but could be played out of position as a forward.
Ireland: Giovanni Trapattoni’s side have not lost in 14 games and only conceded three goals in that period: Form. Ireland last played in a major tournament back at World Cup 2002 – but Robbie Keane, Shay Given, and Damien Duff are all available from that team: Experience. So could Ireland surprise us with a win or two in this tournament? Perhaps.
St. Ledger and Ward should start at the back and are priced at just 4.5M – bargain selections if you think a clean sheet is on the cards – though that’s unlikely. In the midfield, it’s Keith Andrews who comes in super cheap at 4M but should earn starts as well. And up front it should be Keane (7m) and Doyle (5.5m). Not too many individual star names in this team, but they are well organized and Andrews – in particular – provides good value for the price.