6 Ways to Dominate ESPN Euro Manager

Every two years fantasy sports enthusiasts get an opportunity to manage the world’s best footballers in a major international tournament.  This summer you can test your ability to scout the skills of Europe’s best during the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship in ESPN Euro Manager.

Euro Managers must use a 4-4-2 formation during each of the game’s five phases.  Managers will assemble three teams during group play, one for the quarterfinals, and fifth team for the semifinals / championship fixtures.  This year ESPN has given managers free rein to select their starting eleven.  There are no salary caps or player restrictions (outside of their designated positions) so managers must find the right mix of big name talent and role players with favorable match ups to win the competition.  Total football is the name of the game and there are 6 ways to dominate ESPN Euro Manager.

Total footballers like Arjen Robben are ideal midfielders for ESPN Euro Manager.  Photo courtesy of www.soccer-wallpapers.net

1. Don’t Overlook Match Fitness and Player Conduct – Players earn one point for appearing in a match and an additional two points if they play for 60 minutes.  In addition to regularly checking injury reports, Euro Managers must identify each nations regular starters and use players with little risk of being sent off.  Managers lose one point for every yellow card and three points for every red card. Staying on the pitch is a basic, yet essential requirement for your starting eleven.

2. Capitalize on Clean Sheet Opportunities – Shutouts are worth 3 points for goalkeepers and defenders.  Midfielders only earn 1 point for a clean sheet.  To be eligible players must be on the pitch for 60 minutes and their side must maintain a clean sheet for the entire match.  The best time for clean sheet opportunities is during the group stage fixtures when the gap in the competition is the widest.  Look for Group D to shut down Andriy Schevchenko and host nation Ukraine.

3. Maintain a High Saves-to-Goals Against Ratio – Goalkeepers and defenders start losing points when they give up more than one goal.  They lose one point for every two goals that are conceded.  Euro Managers can neutralize the inevitable goal scored against them by choosing goalkeepers that are likely to save a high number of shots.  This means starting big name GK’s against the top teams in Europe.  Spain’s keeper, Iker Casillas, should see a high number of save opportunities against Italy, Ireland, and Croatia in Group C.

4. Counter Attack with Defensive Scorers – Goals are worth 8 points when they are scored by defenders (and GK’s), so you need to have a few counter attacking fullbacks that get involved in the offensive flow of their homeland’s tactics.  Free-kick specialists and aerial threats that deliver powerful headers are must have weapons in your defensive arsenal.  Philipp Lahm (GER), Vedran Ćorluka (CRO), and Gaël Clichy (FRA) will generate goal scoring opportunities out of the backfield.

5. Always Start 4 Attacking Midfielders – ESPN Euro Manager rewards scoring and I am advocating an all out attack from the midfield.  Midfielders get 6 points per goal while Forwards earn 4 points.  Assists from any player are worth 3 points.  Because you start four midfielders vs. two strikers so your goals are going to have to come from attacking midfielders in order to dominate the game.  Arjen Robben (above), Franck Ribéry (FRA), Mesut Özil (GER), and Andrés Iniesta (ESP) are matchup proof midfielders that will contribute to their country’s scoring plays.

6. Ignore Own Goals and Penalty Shots – Own goals occurrences are rare, but none the less they will cost Euro Managers 2 points a piece.  Missed penalty shots are costly (-3 points), but saving them is huge (5 points). The reality is that these situations rarely occur and they are virtually impossible to predict.  Ignore them entirely and use the five strategies I presented above to dominate your Euro Manager group this summer.

The tournament kicks off on June 8th.  I will be back during each phase of the tournament to present my starting eleven.  If you have any questions or need any ESPN Euro Manager advice you can email me at goprofantasysports@gmail.com or find me on Google+ & Twitter @GoProFS24.