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It’s finally here! Euro 2016 gets underway on Friday night when home nation France hosts Romania in Paris. That’s before a three-game slate on Saturday afternoon where Albania face Switzerland, Wales take on Slovakia and the main event sees England lock horns with Russia. The biggest contests on DraftKings take place over Saturday’s slate and there’s a special EUROS $10K Kickoff Special that guarantees $10,000 worth of prizes. It costs just $3 to enter so what are you waiting for…
Yann Sommer – $5,000 – Switzerland – Switzerland kept a clean sheet in five of their 10 games in qualifying and have a defensive unit that has tournament experience in spades. Opponents Albania scored just 10 goals in eight games in qualifying and three of them came courtesy of a forfeit win against Serbia, meaning they only actually scored seven times.
Matus Kozacik – $4,500 – Slovakia – As long as the injury status of Gareth Bale is up in the air, taking Slovakia’s ‘keeper feels like a sensible plan. Wales don’t score goals when the flying winger isn’t fit and firing and, save for just over 20 minutes in the 3-0 defeat to Sweden, Bale has not kicked a ball in anger since limping through the Champions League final. Slovakia have conceded just two goals in the last three games and Kozacik kept a clean sheet last time out against Northern Ireland. If Bale does play, be very careful when selecting Kozacik.
Other choices: Joe Hart (England; $4,900).
Kyle Walker – $4,900 – England – If you read into the England squad numbers as an indicator of who will start the opening game, Walker’s presence as number two suggests he will be in at right back ahead of Nathaniel Clyne. The Spurs full back was one of the few to come out of Thursday’s friendly win over Portugal with any credit and continually bombed forwards in the same way as he has done at White Hart Lane all season.
Ricardo Rodriguez – $5,100 – Switzerland – Wolfsburg’s full back, who is still just 23 years old, has been on the verge of a big transfer for some time and a big performance for Switzerland at Euro 2016 will seal it. The Swiss are known to defend very resolutely yet Rodriguez will be encouraged to get forward against an untested Albanian team. Rodriguez also gets plenty of set piece opportunities and it all adds up to a solid set of reasons to take the Swiss full back.
Chris Gunter – $3,400 – Wales – Wales can’t play any worse than their 3-0 friendly defeat to Sweden last week and, even with that defensive performance, Chris Coleman will stick to playing Gunter at right back. The three centre back system he employs means the wing backs look to get forward and Gunter has never been afraid to do that.
Other choices: Stephan Lichtsteiner (Switzerland; $4,600), Dusan Svento (Slovakia; $3,900), Naser Aliji (Albania; $3,600)
Marek Hamsik – $8,000 – Slovakia – Much of the heavy lifting for Slovakia will be done by the Napoli man who has two goals and three assists in the last four appearances for club and country. That includes a goal against Germany on May 29 and comes at the end of a season where he had six goals and 11 assists in Serie A.
Dele Alli – $7,200 – England – Russia have confirmed that their only holding midfielder, Igor Denisov, will miss the opener due to injury and that falls into the hands of Spurs’ young prodigy Alli. He ended the Premier League season with 10 goals and nine assists, averaged 2.2 shots per game and 11.4 fantasy points per game. In two England appearances since the season’s end he has added an assist and links up particularly well with team mate Harry Kane.
Xherdan Shaqiri – $7,400 – Switzerland – Unplayable at times for Stoke this season but wildly frustrating at others, Shaqiri is Switzerland’s talisman and part of a team expected to win its opening game against Albania. Remember that just two years ago the little magician scored a hat trick at the World Cup and he was also the top scoring Swiss player in qualifying with four goals. He should have a good day here to warm up for bigger tests to come.
Other choices: Aaron Ramsey (Wales; $8,100), Shkelzen Gashi (Albania; $6,300), Robert Mak (Slovakia; $6,000)
Gareth Bale – $9,800 – Wales – Wales’ best player needs to be firing for them to do anything in this tournament and after his injury-riddled performance in the Champions League final, he remains a doubt. Even so, the ability this guy possesses makes him an must pick when starting and the Euros will give him motivation to perform beyond any injury he is carrying. He is better than any defender Slovakia possess. Just watch his status come game time.
Harry Kane – $10,800 – England – In two years he has surpassed every other England striker to become the player you can’t not include in the starting line-up. Russia’s back line is creaking with old age, they are without Denisov at defensive midfield and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev has had some absolute clangers at recent tournaments. Combine that with Kane’s shot count, which is always high, and the Spurs man will be out of the traps like a rabid dog.
Other choices: Artem Dzyuba (Russia; $8,200), Admir Mehmedi (Switzerland; $6,400)
UTILITY APPEALAleksandar Kokorin – $5,700 – Russia – With the optimism surrounding the England team already hitting fever pitch, it’s easy to forget that the Three Lions’ defence is still very weak. This plays into the hands of Kokorin, who has taken to playing a support striker role behind lone front man Artem Dzyuba. Kokorin has two goals and an assist in the last three internationals and is a snip at this price. If Kokorin misses out, which is unlikely, replace him with one of Russia’s cheaper, wide midfielders.