Did You Know You Can Use a 4-3-3? ESPN Euro Manager – Semifinals + Finals Analysis

The title isn’t a trick.  You really can use a 4-3-3 for the final scoring period of ESPN Euro Manager.  It takes a bit of an imagination and little courage to deploy, but changing your tactics could be the differentiator you need to win the cup.

In this week’s ESPN Euro Manager analysis I will explain how to modify your formation and give you the reasoning behind the move. I’ve also provided the logic I used to select my starting eleven.

So here it goes:

Did you know there hasn’t been a 3rd place game at the European Championships since 1984?

There won’t be consolation game this year either!  The players you are starting for the semifinals are the players you are starting for the finals.  Hopefully you are doing well in ESPN Euro Bracket Predictor.

Did you know that a single yellow card does not carry over to the semi-finals?

This means that no player will be suspended for final unless he gets sent off in semifinal or he is serving a longer suspension for an earlier incident.

There are still players like Jerome Boateng (GER) that are sure to abuse the privilege and cost their fantasy managers valuable points. Review the Euro 2012 Disciplinary Records and make sure you minimize your risk of being carded.

Did you know the Germany dropped their 3 main attacking options against Greece?

Mario Gomez, Thomas Muller, and Lukas Podolski were all on the bench at the start of Germany’s quarterfinal match.  Hopefully you followed the 6 Ways to Dominate ESPN Euro Manager and made the appropriate changes to your lineup.

Unfortunately I broke Rule #1 while working on 5 Winning Laws for Adapting to Change in Fantasy Sports and left Mario Gomez in my starting eleven.

Do you know who Spain is starting up top against Portugal?

I don’t either.  I do know that Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabergas each have credit for 176 minutes and two goals.  I know if I was going to use either of the two it would have to be Fabergas.

This isn’t a matter of who’s looked better in the starting role or who I think will start in Spain’s remaining games.  The math dictates that you go with the midfielder instead of the forward.

Fabergas has a higher expected value in ESPN Euro Manager because he earns 2 more points per goal and is eligible for clean sheet bonuses.

GOALKEEPERS

Unless you are predicting scoreless draws in each of the three remaining fixtures, the strategy here is to pick the goalkeeper from the team you think will win Euro 2012.

In order to maximize points from your GK in the final scoring period, you must have a GK playing in the final fixture.  The team that wins the tournament can’t give up any more goals in the final than the runner-up.  Sure the runner-up can technically out score the winning GK in terms of fantasy points, but how likely is that?

Despite giving up the most goals (4) amongst eligible GK’s, I am selecting Emanuel Neuer and Germany to win Euro 2012.

DEFENDERS

I have a few theories here.

There is still tremendous value in inserting counter attacking defenders into your starting eleven.  With the exception of Group Stage 3, a defender has netted a goal during each scoring period of ESPN Euro Manager.  There are 6 defenders eligible for the Semifinals + Finals that have either scored a goal or recorded an assist.

Similar to my GK theory I believe you should carry as many players from one team as possible. Unless you have strong convictions about Portugal and/or Italy making the finals, Jordi Alba (ESP) and Philipp Lahm (GER) are worth starting regardless of who you’re picking to win the tournament.  The most likely finals match up is Spain vs. Germany, and both these players have goal scoring potential.

Jordi Alba is the current points leader amongst active defenders with 23 fantasy points.  Lahm and Pepe (POR) are tied with 22 points.

Because I’m banking on Germany to win, I am starting 3 German defenders along with Jordi Alba.

Starting Defenders: Philipp Lahm (GER), Mats Hummels (GER), Holger Badstuber (GER), Jordi Alba (ESP)

MIDFIELDERS

This is the one spot where you must diversify your starters.  I believe the best way to minimize your risk of missing the finals, but maximizing your goal scoring potential is to combine midfielders from the teams you believe with play for the 2012 Championship. I’m taking Germany over Spain 2-1.

Mesut Ozil (GER) – You may be down on Ozil because he has yet to score in Euro 2012, but he does have 3 assists and 19 fantasy points.  Ozil has started and played for at least 60 minutes during the first four scoring periods of ESPN Euro Manager.

I feel the same way about Ozil that I felt about Ronaldo against the Netherlands.  Something has to give.

Sami Khedira (GER) – Because there is some uncertainty surrounding the status of Bastian Schweinsteiger, I’m going with the only other midfielder that has played in every minute of the tournament for Germany.  Khedira is also 5th in points after netting his first goal of Euro 2012.

Feel free to deploy Schweinsteiger with confidence if he gets the start against Italy.

David Silva (ESP) – The Manchester City midfielder has the most fantasy points (30) in ESPN Euro Manager.  He has provided Spain with 1 goal and 3 assists during their Euro 2012 campaign.  I see no reason Silva should be benched in the final scoring period.

* Cesc Fabergas (ESP) – I’m opting for a 4-3-3 and taking my chances with the midfielder gone striker.  The potential for 15+ points is there, but if I can get 90+ minutes and a goal from Fabergas over the final two games I will be pleased.  Remember my statement about expected value and use the 4-3-3 with confidence!

Starting Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabergas is the key to a dominating ESPN Euro Manager with 4-3-3.

FORWARDS

Perhaps the most difficult spot to choose your starters for the Semifinals + Finals.  To me it’s all about playing time.  You have to be on the pitch to score goals.  It seems simple enough, but selecting starting forwards has been a bit like guess-work.

I liked what I saw from Mirolav Klose, but I have to believe Mario Gomez (GER) and Lukas Podolski (GER) will get the opportunity to lead Germany to Euro glory.  I’m using Gomez and Podolski unless Joachim Löw tries to pull another fast one on me.  Klose is my contingency plan.

Thank you!

I want to thank ESPN Fantasy and Games for creating such an amazing way to follow Euro 2012.  I especially want to thank all of my readers for following me during the tournament.  I appreciate all of the questions and feedback you provided.

You can receive links to new fantasy soccer articles like this one by following me on Google+ or Twitter at @GoProFS24.

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